Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mt. Rainier's tease

Everyday, when I drive to work on lake Sammamish parkway, I see Mt. Rainier, at least the glaciers. OK, not everyday, but most of the days when the weather is good, and the air is clear. Its majestic glaciers are an awe inspiring and breathtaking sight.

The mountain is about 2-2.5 hrs drive from our house. So, whenever we plan on visiting it, we look for it while driving on lake Sammamish parkway, and if we can see it clearly, we go ahead with our plans. Everytime, we did that, we ended up hitting clouds when we arrive at Paradise or Sunrise. That got me thinking. Is it our luck or some kind of phenomenon in action. I noticed that even if the sky is clear with no clouds in sight, and we can see the Rainier glaciers from miles away, once we get close to the mountain, we hit low lying clouds around the mountain obscuring our view from the closer vista points. Dang. This got me to do some research in basic geography and precipitation, and here is what I found.

The process of formation of clouds on and around mountains is known as orographic lifting. This is the process of cloud formation due to the topological changes, and the movement of air. Air gets lifted due to the topological changes and as it rises, it drops in temperature which spurs condensation, thus forming clouds. Simple, huh. Now that I understand this, I have a special interest in the clouds around Rainier. The next time I visit Rainier, I will be looking forward to clouds rather than their absence.

Stop and smell the roses....

As we grow up, many simple things cease to amaze us. The daily grind takes away the amazement that we once had as kids. Our daughter reminds us, almost everyday, of all the wonderful things around us.

Both e and my wife love the outdoors, and the Puget sound area offers a lot of it. Ever since we moved to the North West region, we have been trying to get our daughter into hiking and nature appreciation. We go out on hikes almost every weekend, which is made easy by the abundance of trails within a half hour drive from our house. While hiking, as with everything in life, we take a macro-perspective of things. We get excited by the mountains around us, we get excited by the huge evergreens lining our corridor. Our daughter was getting excited by the slugs on the ground, the small insects on the leaves, the moss on the bark or the twigs lying around. Maybe, it is because of her perspective (literally, since she is a small person), or maybe it is her curiosity about everything around her. Everything is new for her, and she wants to explore them all. We should make an effort to maintain the curiosity into our old ages.

Another interesting observation I made was that we, grownups, are aiming at the end, be it a lake or waterfall at the end of the trail, the summit of a mountain, or a magnificent vista point. Kids, especially 3 year olds, do not care as long as they are having a good time. Yes, we do talk about the "it is the journey, not the end goal" philosophy, we should reinforce it in all aspects of our life.

It is time to take my daughter out for a walk and smell the roses.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Tour de France

Who is not captured by the events of Tour de France these days. It feels like almost everybody is monitoring the race, and how Team Discovery is faring. Seattle metropolitan area (aka, puget sound) is very bicycle friendly. I have a few colleagues who ride their bike to work. Everyday, during my drive to work, I encounter several riders, hopefully on their way to/from work. I am getting inspired by all this to go buy a road bike and start negotiating the hills of puget sound. One day, I might even think of riding the RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day!). Looking at the list of riders who accomplish this every year, I feel there is hope for me someday. Yeah, someday.

I stumbled upon a fellow Sammamish resident who pens this hilarious blog. I love his writing style. Don't miss the interview with Lance, and the personality test.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Survival of the cutest...?

Sometimes I think God made babies cute and beautiful so that they survive the initial years. Nobody feels like harming anything that is beautiful. Beauty evokes a sense of admiration and drives away all other negative emotions.

When I was a kid, I found out that one of my friends had an old violin in his attic. My interest in musical instruments persuaded him to get it out of the attic. The case was dirty with all the dust from years of neglect. We took it outside to dust it off. As soon as I opened the case, a couple of small eggs fell out. These were lizard eggs. As soon as the eggs hit the ground, they broke and two tiny lizards came out. The lizards immediately ran and hid behind nearby bushes. I was amazed. How could an animal, a few seconds after birth, know what is dangerous and what is safe? The lizards must have that information imprinted in their genes, so that they instinctively know these things. I have seen day old or even minutes old off springs of several animals, and the lizard was the only one with these instincts. Of course, others had different basic instincts, but not this advanced. The lizard may not be advanced compared to us, but it does come into this world far more advanced than many other beings (including humans).

Human beings are the most vulnerable when born. They do not have the basic instinct, but for sucking. They are so fragile, they would not survive in the wild even for a day. No wonder mortality rate was so high in the primitive world. It takes humans almost close to a year before they are capable of anything that is self-preserving. Of course, they do have an annoying cry that can drive anyone crazy (no wonder military is experimenting with the sound of a baby cry as a weapon), but not enough to defend themselves from preying animals.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Acquired taste

As a kid, I had never tasted custard until I was 5 years old. I think it was vanilla flavored custard that I tasted first, and when I did, it tasted like one of those growth syrup that are given to kids! Yucky. I almost threw up. The reason, I had tasted vanilla flavored syrup before I tasted custard. So, my mind had made up its mind that the syrup is yucky and I was forced to drink it for its good qualities. Later on in life, when I tasted the REAL thing, my brain registered it as yucky.

So, I concluded that the order, in which you expose your kids to things, is very important in setting the right perceptions. I was never exposed to fish as a kid, and when I smelt it first, it felt horrible. My brain equated that particular smell to cow dung (that is what fresh cow dung smells like, for those of you farm environment deprived), which was already programmed into the yucky category.

Whenever our daughter's daycare is serving fish, I feel uncomfortable walking in. Since, the smell makes me uncomfortable, I used to think that she also felt the same. Actually, she did not. The very first time she registered the smell, she saw her classmates eating the source with joy. So, her brain programmed the smell as a good tasting snack smell. This is how the culture barrier is broken!

Sometimes, grownups acquire tastes to certain things even though it is repulsive at first. These are acquired tastes. Children can also acquire tastes as long as they are exposed to positive thoughts.