Thursday, December 31, 2009

Think Big

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”—Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1864-1912)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Genographic Results Delayed

I'm kind of bummed. The Genographic Project failed to find my haplogroup. It's gonna take a couple more weeks.
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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Gift

Monday, December 7, 2009

Human Genographic Project

My DNA has been isolated. In a few weeks I will know the route my ancestors took in their migration out of Africa. I signed up for the Genographic Project. It's a great project run by National Geographic that is mapping the migration history of the human species by using the DNA of hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

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

My Family of Elves

This thing is addicting.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Country Elves

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, December 4, 2009


I love this site.

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

Home Energy Use

I dropped my energy use by an average of $8/month from 2008 to 2009. Nice!

Sometime soon I will calculate how much trees, carbon emissions, etc that saves.