Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Your sample has completed the DNA analysis phase of testing. However, during quality control your initial results failed to clearly indicate your haplogroup. We must perform additional testing to accurately determine your deep ancestral lineage. This is not uncommon, but will delay the posting of your results by two to three weeks.
We appreciate your patience. Please also note that this delay is a sign of the Project's success in increasing the diversity of samples in our database.
If we find that there is a problem at any point during the processing of your sample, you will receive an updated message when you log in to check your status.
Monday, December 7, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I swabbed the inside of my cheeks then put the swab in a solution and shipped it to NatGeo.
They received it and started running their lab work. In their words:
The cells are broken open by incubation with a protein-cutting enzyme overnight. Chemicals and the samples are transferred into deep well blocks for robotic DNA isolation. The blocks of chemicals and samples are placed on the extraction robot. The robotic DNA isolation uses silica-coated iron beads. In the presence of the appropriate chemicals DNA will bind to silica. The robot then uses magnetic probes to collect the beads (and DNA) and transfer them through several chemical washes and finally into a storage buffer, which allows the beads to release the DNA. At this point the beads are collected and discarded
So soon I should have a complete map of where my ancestors came from (on my Dad's side) going all the way back to Africa. Did they come out of Africa, turn right to Australia? Were they part of the group that split off and headed to Asia and across the Bering Straight? Maybe they were the European contingent (likely).
Thanks to Steve Jurvetson for introducing me to this.
Here's his map. As you can see his ancestors ended up in Scandinavia.
Here's more info on the Genographic Project if you're interested.
A Landmark Study of the Human Journey
Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.
The Genographic Project is seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project is closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories.
The Genographic Project is a five-year research partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells. Dr. Wells and a team of renowned international scientists and IBM researchers, are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots. The three components of the project are: to gather field research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world; to invite the general public to join the project by purchasing a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit; and to use proceeds from Genographic Public Participation Kit sales to further field research and the Genographic Legacy Fund which in turn supports indigenous conservation and revitalization projects. The Project is anonymous, non-medical, non-profit and all results will be placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
According to the 'About' Page it's a "showcase for people around the world to document their lives and cultures. Anyone can submit one large, captioned image to each of Pictory’s editorial themes."
I just submitted this picture in the "My Most Meaningful Image" catagory. It pales compared to the other submissions but it means something to me and that's all that's required.
Here's the blurb I wrote for it:
I was somewhere in Nevada and two weeks into the journey that I'd wanted to do since I was a kid.
I started out in Washington DC and turned around in Seattle. The Bonneville Salt Flats were not too far up ahead with the Rockies further on. It was a hot day, 105.8F, with a slight breeze.
After hours of riding with the muffled drone of my bike's boxer engine I pulled over to the side of a desert highway to enjoy the silence.
I got off my bike, grabbed my camera, and stood in the middle of the road.
I knew as soon as I shot it that after 5000 miles of American scenery, including many of the most beautiful national parks, this shot is the one I'd remember most. This is the one that will get me back on the road again someday.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
This is really cool. I wonder if this portends a trend to retro-fit classic cars with modern electric drive systems. First Neil Youngs LincVolt and now this. It's awesome.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I assume this was sent in jest.
I hope you don't get your "facts" from comic books, movies and TV shows.
On Tue, michael brashier wrote:
During your lecture on the Sun we discussed how the temperature of the Sun dictates that it will emit roughly equal amounts of all wavelengths of light which makes it appear yellow/white.
Thus if the sun cooled down by approximately 1000K it would have a more reddish appearance.
Given the fact that Superman gets his power from the light of our yellow sun and conversely his home planet of Krypton had a red sun which drains his strength, can you please explain what characteristics of fusion within a star would produce super-human strength giving light at 5500K but not at 4000k?
The difference in temperature between a yellow star and a red star appears to correspond to a 100nm change in wavelength. Therefore it would appear that Supermans strength and bulletproofness are functions of a very narrow slice of the visible light spectrum.
On this issue science seems to directly contradict the facts presented in the comic books, movies, and TV shows.
It was all CD based. My idea was that magazine subscribers would receive a CD in the mail from Time, Rolling Stone et al., and put the CD in the reader.
My design was bifold to replicate the aesthetics of a real book as much as possible.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
- 0: Speeding tickets
- 44: average miles per gallon
- 19: states travelled through
- 5: National parks visited
- 2: Number of tires purchased
- 100: pounds of gear and equipment carried
- 749: Pictures taken (keepers)
- 1: Number of times rained on.
- 3: duration of rainfall in minutes
- 12073: Highest elevation in feet
- 4: Number of nights in a Motel
- 9: Number of nights tent camping
- 14: Number of 32oz gatorades consumed
- 96: inches of Subway sandwiches consumed
- 105.8: degrees highest temperature measured on the road, Green River, UT 4:40pm July 23rd
- 59.3: degrees lowest temperature measured on the road, Glacier National Park, MT 9:00Am
- $369.75: amount of money spent on fuel
- 110: Number of Twitter/facebook status updates
Friday, July 24, 2009
National Park. My plan was to blow right past it in favor of Monument
Valley 150 miles further down the road. However when the temp hits 106
degrees you tend to re-evaluate. The cost benefit equation becomes
So I pulled into the Arches National Park visitor center and marveled
at it's rock models, interactive displays, and air conditioning. The
ranger told me the campsites were sold out so I thought I would just
tour the park, take pictures, and camp outside the park on the
I saw the sites and took tons of pictures of red rock formations. I
even got lost briefly on a hike to an arch.
Late that evening I came to the campground. They appeared to be full
but the "reserved" area had some openings. Sure enough the nice park
rangers let me camp for the night in the reserved area. I didn't have
the $20 cash so I had to use an old check I keep in my wallet. I was
pleasantly surprised when I unfolded the check and saw the image of
Arches National Park on it.
Thankfully the temp dropped steadily as the sun went down. It fell
through the 90's, mid 80's by nightfall, mid 70's by midnight when I
woke up to star gaze.
Arches offered the best star gazing of my trip. Hopefully the pics
come out. You could see the milky way from horizon to horizon. If you
look straight up in such a way that the surrounding countryside is not
in your field of vision you could almost convince yourself that you're
The pics will be posted to flickr.com/michaelb1
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
shows me soaking my riding jacket in cold water. It was bone dry again
after about 30 minutes on the road but it kept me cool. Being wet at
70 mph WILL keep you cool even in 100 degree heat.
After a great weekend in Seattle I am heading SE to the Bonneville
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
that forced to ride on a 20 degree tilt on I90 made for a very
pleasant camping experience.
I rode up to the automated camping teller at about 730pm. It allows
you to pick your campsite by number but doesn't show you a
corresponding map to match the number with a location. I picked 76.
I set up camp, had a cup o noodles and jerky for dinner, and prepared
to do some star gazing. There wasn't a single cloud from horizon to
horizon. I wasn't dissapointed. I took some great photos with my best
low light lens set to the slowest shutter speed. Some photos, which
only capture a small portion if the sky, have hundreds of stars in
them. I havn't seen that many stars since I was at sea 13 years ago.
I have no idea where I am heading today other than west. I know I'm
running out of time if I want to be in Seattle on Friday.
Yellowstone and Glacier NP's are the only must see spots left on my
agenda. There's a lot more sites I want to see but I gotta start
making cuts on the list.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
highlight of my day so far.
Right when I got on the bike I noticed that it wasn't handling right.
Even though I was only riding 5 mph through the park I could tell
something was wrong.
My rear tire only had 5psi in it. So I went to a car shop a mile away
and filled her up. That got me to Sioux Falls.
From there I searched 'motorcycle repair' on Google Maps and started
calling places. Apparently NOBODY will patch a tire due to liability
So here I am at a bike shop trading $500 for two new tires.
I had planned to replace both in Seattle in 4 days but I had not
planned on spending $500.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Basically I crammed mire stuff into the hard cases to make the duffel
Last evening I was racing the sun and the campground was the finish
line. The sun won. My concilation prize was a night at the motel 6 in
I hope to make Sioux Falls by night fall.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
He helped me pack my gear and even gave me the best invention ever: a net made of bunjie cord. This thing will change my whole trip. You just stack things up and stretch the net over it. Poof! Done.
Marc since I gave you web address hopefully you're reading this. Thanks again and be careful working those gas lines. Maybe we will meet again on the flip side of my trip.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
my iPhone I am laying in a tent at a campground in Baltimore Ohio. So
I made about 400 miles today. Not a bad start but I need to do better
Today was intended to be a shakedown day when I could learn the
easiest and most efficient way to do things to make the trip go much
I learned that The Weather Channel app for the iPhone is a critical
piece of software. I noticed some dark clouds on the horizon so I
pulled over and checked out the forcast. The app is location aware so
I didn't have to bother looking up the local zipcode. I could see on
the radar that the rain band would not cross my path. I didn't have
to worry about putting on rain gear.
The phone was also very helpful in finding a campground. You simple
click on google maps, current location, then search for 'campground'.
Little puns drop on the map where the local campgrounds are. By the
way, KOA wanted $40 for a tent site. Seriously.
I met a guy at a valley overlook in Virginia that at one time rode his
bicycle from California to Pennsylvania. THAT'S a road trip. I also
met a woman that named her gps Myrtle.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
embarking on solomoto ( I'm just going to call it that. 'my solo cross
county motorcycle road trip' takes too long).
There are a lot of nice bikes here including a BMW HP2 with a $27k tag
hanging on the handlebar.
Monday, July 6, 2009
google maps so that you can share it with the world. I'll use this for
my trip. Check out my embedded map at michaelb1.com.
The good: it's free which is $100 cheaper than the Spot tracker.
The bad: Like all iPhone apps it does not run in the background so
you have to leave it on to allow it to log and upload your coordinates.
I just tested it out today and it works well. Looking forward to using
it on the solomoto trip.
HANDLEBARS: BMW's Boxer: A Classic Design Is Updated and Refined
By STUART F. BROWN
The flat-twin engine has been a distinctive BMW attribute for decades,
but a devoted following does not mean the company has lost interest in
View Cross Country Via Motorcycle in a larger map
I'll travel through 16 states, stopping at a bunch of parks. The highlights:
- Yellowstone NP, WY
- Grand Teton NP, WY
- Glacier NP, MT
- Monument Valley NP, UT
- Devils Tower, WY
- Badlands NP, SD
- Mount Rushmore NP
- Little Big Horn, MT
- Rocky Mountain NP
- Mt Ranier NP, WA
- Bonneville Salt Flats SP, UT
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
All this stuff....
Packed into this:
The side bags will hold 22lbs each. The top case holds 11lbs. I was able to put most the heavy stuff (read expensive) in the saddle bags. Best to keep the heavy stuff low. This includes the laptop, camera, etc. The giant duffel holds my tent pegs, chair, and some other knick knacks.
The test ride was successful. You gotta treat bikes like a lady. In this case it means not laying her down, mindful of the extra 70+lbs of baggage she is carrying.
6 Days until I head west.
I just finished the site for my cross country motorcycle website, michaelb1.com. Since hopefully my Mom will be visiting the site to see what I'm up to let me take a minute to pretend that she cares how it works and explain it to her in laymans terms.
Soooo...all the data I create on the road will be automagically uploaded to the big internet cloud in the sky via my iPhone and MacBook. What I cannot upload cellularly I will use the nation's libraries and McDonalds free wifi for. The cloud analogy is not mine but I'll stick to it for this post.
So now all this data is swirling around in the cloud. That's where michaelb1.com comes in. If you don't mind we'll keep the cloud analogy going. This internet cloud is made up of everyone's data. Data = rain. Michaelb1.com is my rain collector.
The cloud is actually a bunch of sites scattered across many servers all over the internet.
- Flickr.com host my pictures
- YouTube and Vimeo have my videos
- this site (Blogger) hosts my blog
- Loopt shows my geo-position
- Google maps is storing my route information
- Amazon has all my gear listed with convenient links so you can buy stuff and I will get kicks-backs from Jeff Bezos
- and my tweet of course, come from Twitter.
Michaelb1 gathers up all the data from those myriad sites and sticks them on one page for your convenience. So Mom, it's like having your own personal rain cloud above your new garden.
I hope it passes the mom test. It has to be simple and informative. Anything less and she doesn't want to see it.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
First, I want to see Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, The Rockies, and as many of the in-between places that I can. Two, my wife bought me a motorcycle last year and from it I learned that I really enjoy riding motorcycles. Three, it'll be an adventure. In my mind you don't need much more reason than that.
I'm pretty excited about the trip. I've been planning it for weeks, getting the gear, upgrading my motorcycle, finding the best roads, etc. Many of the blogs I read in my research, like chitownrider.com, motomaps, and advrider.com, are written by people that are equally enthusiastic about motorcycle road trips.
The reaction of my friends, family, and acquaintances has been a little less encouraging. Here's some of the reactions I got when told people about my trip:
- "Your wife is letting you go?"
- "Are you having a midlife crisis?"
- "Do you have a death wish?"
- "It's gonna suck"
- "You're doing to be sore and uncomfortable"
- "You're going to freeze your ass off"
- "You're going to sweat your ass off"
- "it's going to be really expensive"
- "That's very dangerous"
- "You'll die alone in the middle of the road 100 miles from nowhere."
As you can see the typically reaction falls somewhere between incredulity and promises of pain, suffering, and death. Some even suggested that the trip would be a total waste of time if I was not completely comfortable the entire time.
WTF! I'm a 36 year old man living in America! Are we not the descendants of explorers and adventurers? Are we supposed to stay home and never do anything ever again? I mean seriously, WTF? It's not like I am driving my motorcycle across Iraq and Afghanistan. It's North America, home of Wal-Mart and the world's largest ball of yarn. I'll see Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the Great Plains, The Rockies! Is that not worth sweating once in a while, getting minor back pains, or sleeping on rocky ground?
To anyone else thinking about making a similar trip:
It's not a mid-life crisis. It's just your human DNA. Neil Armstrong was 39 when he walked on the moon.
Also, there's no shame in solo travel explore. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. A 25 year old Charles Lindbergh didn't have a co-pilot when he flew across the Atlantic. Don't wait, do it now. Also, send me a link to your blog about it.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Last weekend I took my first real ride on my new bike. I took it though Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The BMW R1200R handles much better than the Honda VTX. It should as it is designed to and the VTX is designed to just cruise.
On the way home from Tom's Run Relay I cruised through gorgeous valleys and many small towns. As a side note I only say one rebel flag hanging in a yard.
I've made a few adjustments to the bike since I got back from this road trip. I ditched the windshield because I like to feel the wind. I'll probably put it back on for my cross country trip. I also installed some handlebar risers. My riding position was just a little bit too forward leaning. The risers fixed that very effectively. I also intalled a GPS mount on the handlebar. I plan to purposely get lost on this trip but I want to be able to find where I'm going sometimes.
Love the new bike!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Today I got my dream bike, a BMW R 1200 R. My Honda VTX 1300 R is a great bike. In the year I owned it I got a sense of what I am looking for in a motorcycle. It's great for cruising and it looks really good plus it is solid as a rock as far as reliability goes. The BMW is sportier, safer, more efficient, lighter and it's just more suited to the kind of riding I do.
I bought it off Craigslist from a lawyer in Maryland. He really took care of it and rigged it for touring even though he mainly used it as a commuter. He added a lot of aftermarket accessories to make his commute easier which will benefit me greatly on my cross country trip.
- hard saddle bags (lockable)
- trunk bag big enough to hold my helmet.
- extra lighting up front and in the rear
- blinking brake lights
- red LED brake lights around the license plate
- highway bars which will be invaluable to me after many long miles on the road.
- heated grips
- onboard computer
- power plug for charging accessories
Friday, May 22, 2009
I'm thinking of upgrading my ride to a bike that is better suited for touring. This weekend I'm going to take a look at a BMW R 1200 R a guy is selling on Craigslist.
The BMW has several advantages over my Honda many of which will be particulalry handy on a long trip. For one it has anti-lock brakes. Also the brakes are linked so when I slam on the front brakes it also engages the rear brakes. This keeps the bike from nose diving as much and reduces the risk of going over the bars. Another cool feature is the "Telelever" on the front fork. Basically this little piece of engineering de-couples steering and suspension. The forks of most bikes handle both of these tasks doing neither optimally. There's similar hardware in the rear called the "Paralever". It keeps the rear wheel where it should be at all times.
The bike has a lot of creature comforts as well: heated grips, on board computer, tachometer, water proof hard cases. As a matter of fact it comes with a trunk bag in addition to the cases (not pictured). I can't wait to test drive it this evening. Theoretically the upright seating position will be more comfortable on long trips because the riders legs are directly beneath him/her. The rider can use his legs to absorb big bumps. On a cruiser like my Honda the legs are out in front of the rider. This puts your spine directly in line with the suspension such that it absorbs all the bumps and potholes.
What I like most about the BMW R 1200 R is it's versatility. Take off the bags and it makes a great city bike or all-purpose cruising bike. Put the bags on and you have a commuter / touring bike.
Check out www.chitownrider.com if you want to see some great pictures from a guy that takes his R12 all over the country and beyond.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I just created a set on Flickr that is dedicated to pictures of my cross country motorcycle trip this summer. I really need to come up with a name for this trip so I don't have to type out " my cross country motorcycle trip this summer" everytime.
Here's a link to the set.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
On the advice of a friend I stopped by REI yesterday to get some gear for my cross country motorcycle trip this July. Motorcycle camping is a lot like back country camping; you need to pack light and small.
REI has a heavily promoted annual sale. Don't expect to save a ton of money over online retailers but you will get the benefit of seeing, touching, feeling before dropping a C note on a sleeping bag.
Case in point, I walked into REI with the goal of purchasing the cheapest best sleeping bag I could find that would allow me to sleep through the night in Glacier National Park in July. After consulting with the shaved headed goatee'd salesman I bought the North Face Cat's Meow sleeping bag for $121. That's a pretty decent price but not cheaper than you can find online.
I'm not complaining though, the price was good and the sales guy helped me out a lot.
As I will be camping most nights of my 3+ week journey I thought I'd go ahead and get everything I need now at REI instead of little by little over the next month and a half. That may have been a mistake, we'll see.
Here's what I got (click links if you care enough to see the brand and model):
- Camping pillow
- LED lantern
- Dorky head lamp LED thing
- a couple water resistance ditty bags
- Sleeping bag (see above)
- sleeping pad
- Spare gas can for those long stretches of road
- quick dry Sham-Wow type camping towel
Now all that's left is rigging the bike for travel. I need to figure out a way to attach my large bag to the rear fender and saddle bag brackets. Then there is the power plug which I need to charge my cell phone and gps.
I got the North Face duffel from eBags for $130. It's huge so it should hold all the gear I need. I got the white one thinking any extra visibility would help. I plan to add some retro tape to the back and sides as well.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Of course I will be editing this list over the coming weeks as I figure out distances and such. I want to sleep in a National or State Park every night if possible.
- sioux falls
- Badlands NP
- Mt. Rushmore NP
- Yellowstone NP
- Glacier NP
- Mt Ranier NP
- Olympic NP
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