Archive for September, 2011


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I am sick. I have a sore throat, runny nose, and my head hurts like there is a Frenchman living in it. I stayed at home all day yesterday and got much better until an afternoon hike to the Y with the cubs. I wanted to die. I hike the Y 3 times a week but I was not sure I was going to make it to the top yesterday. Zero energy.
I have really grown to adore our cubs and I have been wanting to take them to the Y for months now. They had a great time–they saw a tarantula (I had no idea they lived here and am not really thrilled by the discovery) and, of course, blood (one of them took a nose dive down the trail…it was inevitable…I told them not to run only 35 times).
Well, I hardly slept last night and this morning I did not even have enough energy to cut a curtain fabric. David was very sweet and did it for me. However, then we went from his cute self to his protective self and took the fabric with him to work, so I would not spend the day sewing and overdoing it. Hmm. Now what?



General Life Update

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Last Friday was our 5 year wedding anniversary.
I love you, David.

You are my honey.
You are my friend.
You are my lover.
You are my everything.

David arranged a romantic getaway for us in Pine Valley. We had a great time–hiked Signal Peak via Brown’s trail. The view is fantastic. You can see all of southern Utah and all the way to Arizona and Nevada. But, gosh, the hike is brutal; especially, in 90 degree heat with an insufficient water supply. When we hiked Timp three weeks ago, I could not wait to do it again; I hope it will be years before me and Signal Peak meet again.

Other news….
- We made our hand prints in the new concrete laid in the driveway
- I did great on the GMAT and am SOOOOOO happy that whole affair is over
- David has been working very long hours but is making strides on his project
- We had a Litster cousin get-together Tuesday night in a Thai restaurant
- I decorated the inside of the house for Halloween. The hallway is witch central, the living room is filled with crows and bats, and I have twenty spiders all over the kitchen.
- I applied for a new job. Wish me luck.
- Today we are taking the cub scouts up the Y. I bought a whole new box of Costco chocolate chip cookies to motivate them.



The Smell of Fall

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I love the fall.
I look forward to watching the leaves turn red, orange, and yellow. I look forward to watching them fall. I look forward to watching the wind caress them and blow them all over the yard. I look forward to raking them into giant piles.
Fall seems very peaceful to me, it seems wise.
I adore pumpkins of all colors and sizes. I can never have enough of them around the house.
I cant wait till David takes me to buy our hay bail.
I love the smell of fall. I love the way the the cold mornings nibble on my nose. The magic in the air. I take a deep breath. I want it to permeate my whole body. Every single cell even in the tips of my toes. It calms me.
I love going on walks in the fall and getting just cold enough that I can feel my cheeks and nose turning red. I love coming home to the warmth of the house and the smell of apple cider, pumpkin pie, hearty soup, and beef stew.
I live for the first time I open the storage containers of fall decorations and the smell of pumpkin, cinnamon, and cranberry candles that has been locked inside for 12 months rushes out. I just stand above the boxes sucking in the moment. I am so caught up in it. I want to stand there forever.
Decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving is a sacred experience for me. Spiders and turkeys. Gosh, I love them.
I got married on the September 23–the first day of fall.

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists

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David: Imagine the mysteries Angry Birds could solve.
Sandy: Middle East Peace brought to you by Angry Birds.

Video-game players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years, and those scientists say the accomplishment could point the way to crowdsourced cures for AIDS and other diseases.
“This is one small piece of the puzzle in being able to help with AIDS,” Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, told me. Khatib is the lead author of a research paper on the project, published today by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
The feat, which was accomplished using a collaborative online game called Foldit, is also one giant leap for citizen science — a burgeoning field that enlists Internet users to look for alien planets, decipher ancient texts and do other scientific tasks that sheer computer power can’t accomplish as easily.
“People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” Seth Cooper, a UW computer scientist who is Foldit’s lead designer and developer, explained in a news release. “Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans.”
Unraveling a retrovirus
For more than a decade, an international team of scientists has been trying to figure out the detailed molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. Such enzymes, known as retroviral proteases, play a key role in the virus’ spread — and if medical researchers can figure out their structure, they could conceivably design drugs to stop the virus in its tracks. The strategy has been compared to designing a key to fit one of Mother Nature’s locks.
The problem is that enzymes are far tougher to crack than your typical lock. There are millions of ways that the bonds between the atoms in the enzyme’s molecules could twist and turn. To design the right chemical key, you have to figure out the most efficient, llowest-energy configuration for the molecule — the one that Mother Nature herself came up with.
That’s where Foldit plays a role. The game is designed so that players can manipulate virtual molecular structures that look like multicolored, curled-up Tinkertoy sets. The virtual molecules follow the same chemical rules that are obeyed by real molecules. When someone playing the game comes up with a more elegant structure that reflects a lower energy state for the molecule, his or her score goes up. If the structure requires more energy to maintain, or if it doesn’t reflect real-life chemistry, then the score is lower.
More than 236,000 players have registered for the game since its debut in 2008.
The monkey-virus puzzle was one of several unsolved molecular mysteries that a colleague of Khatib’s at the university, Frank DiMaio, recently tried to solve using a method that took advantage of a protein-folding computer program called Rosetta. “This was one of the cases where his method wasn’t able to solve it,” Khatib said.
Fortunately, the challenge fit the current capabilities of the Foldit game, so Khatib and his colleagues put the puzzle out there for Foldit’s teams to work on. “This was really kind of a last-ditch effort,” he recalled. “Can the Foldit players really solve it?”
They could. “They actually did it in less than 10 days,” Khatib said.

University of Washington
A screen shot shows how the Foldit program posed the monkey-virus molecular puzzle.
One floppy loop of the molecule, visible on the left side of this image, was particularly tricky to figure out. But players belonging to the Foldit Contenders Group worked as a tag team to come up with an incredibly elegant, low-energy model for the monkey-virus enzyme.
“Standard autobuilding and structure refinement methods showed within hours that the solution was almost certainly correct,” the researchers reported in the paper published today. “Using the Foldit solution, the final refined structure was completed a few days later.”
Khatib said the Seattle team’s collaborators in Poland were in such a celebratory mood that they insisted on organizing a simultaneous champagne toast, shared over a Skype video teleconference.
“Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance that we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem,” Khatib and his colleagues wrote.
The parts of the molecule that formed the floppy loop turned out to be of particular interest. “These features provide exciting opportunities for the design of retroviral drugs, including AIDS drugs,” the researchers said.
Looking for new problems to solve
The monkey-virus puzzle solution demonstrates that Foldit and other science-oriented video games could be used to address a wide range of other scientific challenges — ranging from drug development to genetic engineering for future biofuels. “My hope is that scientists will see this research and give us more of those cases,” Khatib said.
He’s not alone in that hope. “Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries,” Zoran Popovic, director of University of Washington’s Center for Game Science, said in today’s news release. “We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school.”
That’s something that Carter Kimsey, program director for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Biological Infrastructure, would love to see happen. “After this discovery, young people might not mind doing their science homework,” she quipped.
One caveat, though: Playing Foldit isn’t exactly like playing Bejeweled. “Let’s be honest, proteins aren’t the sexiest video game out there,” Khatib told me. Give the game a whirl, and let me know whether it’s addictive or a drag.
Tale of a Contender
The final decisive move in the Foldit Contender Group’s solution to the monkey-virus puzzle involved twisting around that floppy loop, or “flap,” in the structure of the enzyme. The paper published today notes that one of the Contenders, nicknamed “mimi,” built upon the work done by other gamers to make that move.

Speed-of-light experiments give baffling result at Cern

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Puzzling results from Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have confounded physicists because subatomic particles seem to have beaten the speed of light.
Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.
The results – which threatens to upend a century of physics – were put online for scrutiny by other scientists.
In the meantime, the group says it is being very cautious about its claims.
They will be discussing the result in detail in a conference at Cern on Friday afternoon, which can be viewed online.
“We tried to find all possible explanations for this,” said report author Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration.
“We wanted to find a mistake – trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects – and we didn’t,” he told BBC News.
“When you don’t find anything, then you say ‘Well, now I’m forced to go out and ask the community to scrutinise this.’”
Caught speeding?
The speed of light is the Universe’s ultimate speed limit, and much of modern physics – as laid out in part by Albert Einstein in his theory of special relativity – depends on the idea that nothing can exceed it.
Thousands of experiments have been undertaken to measure it ever more precisely, and no result has ever spotted a particle breaking the limit.
But Dr Ereditato and his colleagues have been carrying out an experiment for the last three years that seems to suggest neutrinos have done just that.
Neutrinos come in a number of types, and have recently been seen to switch spontaneously from one type to another.
The team prepares a beam of just one type, muon neutrinos, sending them from Cern to an underground laboratory at Gran Sasso in Italy to see how many show up as a different type, tau neutrinos.
In the course of doing the experiments, the researchers noticed that the particles showed up 60 billionths of a second sooner than light would over the same distance.
This is a tiny fractional change, but one that occurs consistently.
The team measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 15,000 times, and have reached a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.
But the group understands that what are known as “systematic errors” could easily make an erroneous result look like a breaking of the ultimate speed limit, and that has motivated them to publish their measurements.
“My dream would be that another, independent experiment finds the same thing – then I would be relieved,” Dr Ereditato said.
But for now, he explained, “we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result – because it is crazy”.
“And of course the consequences can be very serious.”

Article from: BBC


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PROVO — Ouch! Talk about salt in the wound.

An Arby’s sign in Provo couldn’t have nailed BYU’s performance Saturday in LaVell Edwards Stadium versus its bitter rival any better than this.

“Bring in BYU stub for a free turnover,” the sign reads.

BYU fans got their fair share of turnovers during the game as the Cougars handed the ball over to the Utes a whopping seven times in the 54-10 drubbing.

Coincidence? Yes.

Prophetic? Absolutely.

Depressing? I don’t want to talk about it.

But hopefully most BYU fans can simply laugh about it.

If not, eat a scrumptious Arby’s turnover- it’ll at least hide that bitter taste in your mouth, even if only temporarily.

Timp Hike (Labor Day) via Timpanooke Trail

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Timpanogos Trail Panorama 46




Timpanogos Trail Panorama 40Timpanogos Trail Panorama 22





The Adventure

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David says to think of it as an "adventure".  I am usually all for euphemisms and denial but this time the cruel fact is…we are in deep shit.
(Insert your ooohs and aaaahs here and swear you will never let me around your children.

At around 7, discovered about a half inch of water in the laundry room. Bummer. Turned off the washing machine and grabbed brooms to push the water into the floor drain and contain the situation.
Hmmm…. water not foamy and definitely not smelling of clean linens–instead murky, raw sewage that is unstoppably coming up the drain.
Crap. Yes. Crap.
Got it somewhat under control, called the landlord to get a plumber in asap on Monday, and went to bed.
At 11 woken by smell that would scare a skunk. Water about 2 inches deep and spilled into the bathroom and the kitchen pantry. Drew the bleach bottle so quick could have starred in High Noon. David alternated between his shopvac and two brooms. Food ruined, computers and rugs are biohazard.
No water, no toilet.
Curse words: English

Sewage pipes clogged with roots. They would have to dig.
No water, no toilet.
Curse words: English, German.

All utility lines marked on the driveway.
No water, no toilet.
Cursewords: English, German.

Half the driveway is ripped out. Concrete smashed. My heart beats to the sound of a jackhammer. George’s parking spot is occupied by a bulldozer. One of the plumbers forgot to cap the sewage line in the hallway–the apartment smells like public latrines after Ozzyfest.
At the end of the day we are told that the water line is also corroded and will have to be replaced. The water main is in our bedroom. Everything has to be moved out.
Water and toilet not back on till night.
Curse words: Czech.

Blur. A 3ft hole in the bedroom. The entire driveway a WWI trench. House in shambles. Laundry room floor covered in dry sewage, told not to clean up as "it may back up again".
Time till GMAT – one week.
Water and toilet on and off.
Curse words: Armangeddon.
General mindset: not healthy,  215 negative thoughts an hour.(conservative estimate)

Going to the temple tomorrow morning to seek a sanctuary and repent of vocab, thoughts, and peeing on the neighbors’ lawn.

Love you all.





























David in our bedroom.


Apple now has more cash than the U.S. government

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Maybe the cash-strapped U.S. government should start selling iPads.

According to the latest statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s less than what Steve Jobs has lying around.

Tech juggernaut Apple had a whopping $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June, according to its last earnings report. Unlike the U.S. government, which is scrambling to avoid defaulting on its debt, Apple takes in more money than it spends.

This symbolic feat — the world’s most highly valued tech company surpassing the fiscal strength of the world’s most powerful nation — is just the latest pinnacle for Apple, which has been on an unprecedented roll.

Its Macs, iPhones and iPads remain hot sellers, its stock has surged past $400 a share and Apple just became the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume.

There’s been a lot of speculation about what Apple might buy with its piles of cash — Facebook and Sony being two of the more high-profile examples — but the company doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to make a move.

“We don’t let the cash burn a hole in the pocket or make stupid acquisitions,” CEO Jobs said last fall. “We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry because we think there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.”

Offering Uncle Sam a short-term loan is probably not one of them.

My random favorites

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Dad and his seal buddy










Dad ready to hike













Mom (yes that is her), Dad and I not ready to hike






















Our favorite dish…hot dog with mashed potatoes






































My victory