Monday, August 27, 2007

A fond acknowledgment

Of all the folks that I've played music with, somewhat formally. I think that means repeatedly on stage in front of strangers. A tip o' the hat to you all and thank you. It's been a fun three years performing in Reno.

Paula Adkins
Chad Bowen
Leroy Bowers
Michael Chambone
Ed Crandall
Jim Denoncourt
Michael Franz
Dave Gleason
Cindy Gray
Vicki Haas
Luke Hoffman
Adam Jaffe
John Kent
Chad Kortan
Joseph Martini
John Mordachi
Tom Moss
Ron Moyes
Karen Roemmich
Scotty Roller
Daryl Salley
Norris Shultz
Rick Sparks
Mike Therieau
John Von Nolde
Mike Young

apologies to any I forgot.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I’m a songwriter / I'm leaving Reno

I have much to tell you all. I'll get into it when my plans become something more than completely up in the air. My last local shows as a member of Hellbound Glory are this month. There are 3 last chances for you to see us near Reno before I'm gone on August 29th. I will travel east with Leroy for some shows in Idaho and Montana playing mandolin.

Did you know for many years prior to 2003 I wrote and updated up my musical biography? It's still out there and takes the story up to me joining Hellbound Glory in '05. It could use some work, but it exists.

My problem with songwriting is perfectionism. Here's a song about a job change (from PG&E to WLA), but I realize that it's eerily similar to my current path. Maybe I'm always the same. This 'song' was written all at once without edits on a train home from San Francisco. I've never finalized the melody. I'm not saying it's good, I'm saying, here it is. It ain't perfect. That is just going to have to start working for me. There are probably sixty or so of these in a binder that reads 'Songwriting' down the spine.

from 5/24/99
Here goes, things gotta feel right
I've sweated and fretted
And been up all night

I'm gonna hold on to that feeling
That's smarter than thinking
For we can't know what is best
Give that figuring a rest

Follow your heart they say it knows
My mind asks for a word
In front of me the true path flows

Can't lose sight of your needs
Happiness has no prize
And not measured in little deeds

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I'm here catching up? at work, listening to Mike Marshall's very cool mandocello performance at the D'addario website(type in Marshall). Absolutely worth seeing all of those clips. A friend here at DRI is also working, an archeologist, and stopped by. Turns out she was at the same and only concert that I've seen Mike Marshall three years ago. He filled in for Tony Rice in Chico while appearing with Peter Rowan. I was with my neotec colleague Rich Briggs. Spiderwebs anyone?

So her stopping by at the printer on my desk, her interest in mankind, and my recently posed mathematics, got me to finish up these thoughts.

Before I go into it, I am into my family history. I am American to the point until records are untraceable in every single direction. People always want to claim some foreign nationality, but in my case, I am American, pure and simple. I've been wondering 'how many generations could I conceivably keep track of?'. If I had total accounting of all ancestors, my answer is about 9 generations. That only gets back a few hundred years. Coincidently, to the American Revolution.

- - -

At the family reunion, I got to talking to a brilliant electrical engineer relative Jerry Wells; a great guy too. Talking about this question I realized the number of direct ancestors for each of us is a power function of 2 raised to what I'll call the 'generation number'. That should makes sense - two people are required to make a new one, hence the base of 2. As a reasonable convention, I have two parents. So they are 2^1, generation 1.Generations go up by one: grandparents 2, great-grandparents 3.

Number of direct ancestors = 2^(Generation Number)

For six generations I have 64 direct ancestors. 7 generations is 128 folks, 8 generations is 256 folks, and so on. Taking things a lot further, suppose that new generations occur, on average, at 25 years old. Then:

Generation number = years considered / 25

There are 4 generations per 100 years, Let's look at the Mayflower, landing in 1620. That's about 400 years ago, and 16 generations ago, yielding 65,536 direct ancestors from that time.

Now if we take 2,000 years ago (an obvious choice) that is 80 generations. The number of direct ancestors whose DNA each of us carry is on the order of:

Generation number = (2,000 / 25) = 80
Ancestor count = 2^80 = a huge number. How huge?

Well, I get 1.2 x 10^24. When you consider that a billion is 1 x 10^9, it is an incomprehensible number of ancestors. Other incomprehensible numbers are found in geologic time on earth, on the order of 4 billion years. So the number of billions in 10^24 is way way too many to think about. It's more than a billion squared (a billion billion).

Again, in 2,000 years (who will argue that people haven't been here since then?) =1.2 x 10^24 reproducing people. To go back to 200,000 years, the dawn of homo sapiens, Excel blows up. I can get it to calculate 10,000 years ago, the beginning of the Holocene, at 400 generations and get 2.6 x 10^120 ancestors. The highest even numbered generations Excel will calculate is 1,023 (or -1 + 2^10), corresponding to 25,600 years ago. The result here 9 x 10^307 people reproduced to make me!

It's been 14 years since my real introduction to geologic time as a geology undergrad, and by now I'm pretty comfortable with geologic time scales. To add in 111 additional exponents to the number (10^9 and 10^120), just to go back 10,000 years of humans? Yikes.

Well, given that the world population is currently on the order of 7 billion, (7 x 10^9), And just for me, one person, there are 10^24 people responsible only in the last 2,000 years! Makes you wonder.

Just some thought for food, er, food for thought.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Kentucky Family Reunion

Right now I'm in Nashville unwinding after a long drive and a nice visit with an intense bunch of Wellses. Soon I'm off to the Station Inn around the corner to check out the Sunday bluegrass jam. I was going to eat, but who needs food when there's bluegrass?

A few days ago, I was on my way to Redding, California when the sun set Thursday night outside of Red Bluff.

After driving home to Reno, I flew to Nashville, then drove to Lexington Kentucky. I visited my friend Rich Koehler's father's hangout, Merrick Inn, where the sun set Friday night. They loved his dad so much, that after he was killed in an automobile accident, they put a headstone outside the place.

Not long after, I met up with my great Aunt Lorene. The next morning, we headed to West Liberty on Saturday, after stopping in Mt. Sterling to pick up her cousin Zelda.

Here's me with my Grandpa's sisters, Lorene (86), Louise (91), Ida Mae (96). We all had a nice visit and I met my mom's cousin Wayne, and spent some time with Donnie, son of her cousin Lynette. Here we are, those those directly descended from Edmund B. Wells, the founder of West Liberty, Kentucky.

Anyone else considered the differences in the expressions "Up Beat" and "Beat Up"? Same two words. Food for thought. Or is it thought for food?

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