Thursday, August 05, 2004

Home at Last

Yep, that's right folks, back in Lansing. We arrived last night (Wednesday) at about 11:30 pm. I thought it would be easier to upload pictures from home, but apparently the fault wasn't entirely with trying to do it while tearing across the country. It must just be a pain in the butt to upload pictures to this site from anywhere. Anyway, I am trying to upload some now, and if it works, you can go to the link in the last post and see if anything was able to get uploaded.
Must sleep now, will be a change to sleep in a bed for eight hours- I'll probably go into shock.
Thanks for watching
well, somehow, a few pictures did manage to post- I have no Idea how that happened. They aren't any cool ones of the coast, but I'll put those up later.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

overdue posting- too much fun to bug with typing!

Sunday night- after touring San Francisco by driving down Lombard, ascending Coit Tower, and crossing the Golden
Gate bridge, we headed south for the scenic drive along the coastal hwy 1. On the way we stopped in Gilroy, the garlic capitol of the world, for some authentic cheap Mexican food. Played at the beach at Monterey bay, and then caught the hwy 1. It's a very winding two-lane road extending from just south of San Francisco to beyond Los Angeles.
The drive was spectacular, with frequent stops at scenic overlooks. At Sand Dollar beach we caught pictures of sea anemonies (sp?) and a great sunset over rock outcroppings in the Pacific.
We had about eight hours to spare in our journey to San Siego to pick up the robot, so we opted to flop out on the high overlook and get a little sleep. The roadside park closed at 10 pm, but we figured that the rangers probably didn't care about locking the gate on a Sunday night.
We woke up around 3:30 am and headed south, catching the sunrise as we entered Los Angeles. Caught a chorizo scrambled breakfast while we waited on an oil change for Colleen's jeep, and then headed the rest of the way San Diego.
We picked up the robot from BioSurplus ( and managed to shoehorn it into the rear of the Jeep along with most of our gear. M. Howard from BioSurplus was a great help, and also nice enough to give us the grand tour of their little facility. They basically buy/sell/consign equipment from the busted or reorganized biotech companies. They showed us a $130,000 100-liter bioreactor, still new in the crate. Some biotech startup company bought it and folded before the unit made its way across the ocean. You can buy it for a song-- just check out their website. From what I have seen and from their service, I highly recommend their company.
BioSurplus has several pieces of equipment that are like this- new or used a couple times, and then the company folds and liquidates what is left. It's a clear indication of investors' excitement over the biotech and drug discovery market. Some of the equipment is custom designed, high-throughput robotics, enough to fill an entire room. And then the whole outfit either folds or gets taken up by a mega-company buyout. The frequency of failure is pretty high, but the stakes make the gamble worth the risk.
From biosurplus we decided to try out Black's beach, based on the recommendations from a few different people. This beach has a reputation as clothing-optional. We stopped by a motorcycle cop and Colleen asked him how to get to this beach. He was tickled that a girl wanted to go there, and got out his map book and helped us draw a map.
The beach was amazing- one of the highlights of this trip. The water was warm and beautiful, with paragliders and hang gliders soaring overhead. We played in the waves, and Colleen taught body surfing. We sat enraptured for a while, enthralled with the scene, and likely burning in the sun. I daydreamed about moving out here and starting up another biotech company, so I could hang out on the beach and learn to surf.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Ahhh, civilization!

Civilization has showers... Colleen is crafty enough to get on Google from the back seat of a moving vehicle, find a truck stop in San Francisco with showers, and get directions, first failing online with MapQuest and then succeeding with calling the truck stop on the cell phone. So now we're all clean and happy, and refilling at Starbuck's Coffee.
Our technology:
(3) digital cameras
(3) cell phones with associated car chargers
CD player with cassette adapter and 12V power adapter
Digital MP3 player
Laptop with Verizon wireless hookup and 120 vac inverter for car use
(thanks Rich!) (
Our tangle: about a dozen cords

And then something goes "Beep" in the dark... what was it?

We made it to San Francisco in great time, especially considering the wonderful detour through Denver to visit Colleen's parents who were there visiting from Florida. We loved the drive out from Denver along Hwy 70-- there is a stretch of highway sculpted into a 12 mile long canyon, along with several stops where people can play in the Colorado river. A lot of care was given to designing a highway that blended with the natural features of the canyon.

(we'll post a link to online info, later)

We're off for some sightseeing, and then a drive south along the coast toward our destination in San Diego. We've been having so much fun that our destination has barely entered our thoughts!

Saturday, July 31, 2004

So long, and thanks for all the poodles

Hi ho again, treporting to you live from cyberquest2004 on-line news . . .

It is about 1:30 am Michigan time- and we are driving past Salt Lake itself now (smells like fun, according to Dean). We about to go into the vast unknown of the Nevada well, Nothingness, so if you don't hear from us before morning, don't panic, resume your regularlly scheduled Sunday morning routine and we will be back and updating next time we get near colorado we noticed that a city.

A Qestion for the Plant Biologist Out there . .
)Or anyone else who has an opinion)

Background: while driving into Colorado we noticed that all of the sunflowers were facing us. 100% of sunflowers surveyed, and we surveyed thousands, were facing East, all bright and pretty as we were approaching.

So is this question of orientation 1. dependent on activation by the sun- do sunflowers grow facing the east in a chamber where light would appear from all sides?

or are sunflowers already oriented without an activator- which would lead to an excercise in frustration for anyone who was studying how they were oriented by the sun.

2. Why do they do this? Google came up with a lot of suggestions- defense, protection from the hot Southern sun (why not face north then?), insect pollination, etc.- does anyone know really why they do this?

Of course, our personal favorite is the conspiracy theory-
There is no orientation of sunflowers, but that the tourism office of Colorado sends someone out every day to pull up sunflowers that aren't greeting people coming into the state from Nebraska. We even saw evidence for this type of regulation- apparently the poodle is well designed to aid humans in this task, this ancient breed of dog has been helping humands for centuries to aid in the orientation of sunflowers. Through breeding selection, most of the sunflowers seen today are naturally predispositioned to facing the incoming traffic- so the poodle has practically worked itself out of a carrer, explaining the reticent temperment of the dog today.
Thanks again Rich, for the use of the computer we would have never been able to find out this valuable information about sunflowers and their relations to poodles.

I'm off to try to put up some pictures.

Quick update from the CA crew

Are we there yet?
Nope, not quite, what an exciting time. It should probably be illegal to have this much fun in 1 1/2 days.
Just approaching Salk Lake City now, midnight Michigan time.
I saw on the weather map y'all are getting rain- I hope you are enjoying it. Weather here & there & everywhere (since we were getting Beatles ads on our blogspot I thought I'd give the ad engine a confirmation that it is doing a good job- anyway the weather has been anywhere from 67 to 100, depending on shade, elevation, how much deoderant I remembered to put on, etc.
So . . Dean & Mike have a game for y'all. . .
we've had several interesting sinage encounters (not of the trigonometry bent- but enough of that tangent)
Here's an example that SOft beef rejection will appreciate:
Somehow, nothing satisfies like beef.

but for the game:
the first one to post a comment with the correct answer to these two questions
gets a beer bought for them at the Peanut Barrel-
The bottom of the sign seen said,
"M&M Co, Protectors of the World"
1. where was this sign seen?
2. What does M&M co make?
Will try to post again soon

Friday, July 30, 2004

Hey Rich . . .

computer help!!So . . .Here's hoping that I can get online long enough to get this posted and maybe even get a reply (no reply- only if you're the Beatles?)Ok- so when we try to connect through the aircard- I get an error message that says, "Unable to connect, please check your username or password"I restarted it once and was able to get on again, but that trick hasn't worked twice. We Can connect via Quick2NetSM, occasionally, but it doesn't stay in service for long, at least not long enought to get any pictures up, and just getting text up is a challenge. Any advice?
Thank you,

Corn Anyone?

11:59 pm
MileMarker 242
On the Web Again. . .
Ok, so there were a few technical difficulties, but looks like we are now fully operational and ready to start blogging our way across Iowa.
Sorry for the delay,
but . .

She's comin' around folks and ready to play the next edition of beat the technology before it outsmarts me again.

There have been a few important things to update y'all on.
First, we decided (at least partially) on a route.
I called my parents last night to tell them I was going to drive out to California, and they happened to be in Denver
helping my sister move into her apartment- they said, "well, if you drive through Denver meet up with us and have lunch/dinner/breakfast/3 am snack.
So, wanting to see the mountains anyway, we decided that driving to CA on the spur of the moment wasn't enough of a challenge let's try to rendevous (sp?) with
with someone who is also traveling halfway across the country (from Alabama) - see- I come by it totally naturally - it's in the genes (but wait, I'm wearing shorts).
So the plan is to head out 80 Towards Denver, then see where we are on time and decide from there which way to go.

A second major update you should be aware of . . .
we figured out the meaning behind the song "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"- Yes, for all you Thomashits, this is a refrence to the one and only SPARK, the wonder drink of true
scientist everywhere- you know, you can't knock success, I think I'm going to buy a case before my prelim.

Ok, not really the song is actually about overweight dudes in cowboy boots. Truely, not a pretty image (probably not as bad as the tubgirl thing- don't know I still haven't looked at it- and I believe y'all so I won't)
Anyway, one major mystery of the world down, a few hundred left to go. 42. (If only we had a wicket)

So right now Mike is driving us through the treacherous hills and turns of middle Iowa- Dean is sleeping to some NewAgin Cajun music.

Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by Traffic

Album: Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
Date: 1971
Lyrics: View Lyrics

Songfacts: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
Jim Capaldi started writing this in Morocco, where he was getting ready for a movie with actor Michael J. Pollard that never got made. Said Capaldi: "Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.' For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The 'Low Spark,' for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The 'Low Spark' meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level." (thanks, Adam - Lake Forest, IL)

And they're off!!!

6:30 pm Friday on Hwy 80...we just saw a sign, "Animal present when flashing"-- some sort of car-deer collision prevention system.
Getting online has been a challenge- the Verizon link is still pretty spotty.Looks like we're going out via Denver to rendezvous with Colleen's parents, who are there for only a few days.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

junk, the universe, and everything

This all started with an online find of a Cyberlab C200 "robotic crystallization workstation".  This means a medium-sized gantry robot with several tools hanging on the z-axis.  These machines were designed for the high throughput protein structure farms (like pharmaceutical companies), with a corresponding price tag.  Today, a few years later, these same machines are already antiques, but antiques of a great design.
So, finding one online was great, but the price of shipping from San Diego to Lansing, Mi was excessive.  I mentioned the predicament to Colleen, and she proposed a road trip.  I checked the 'math' with Mike, and he basically said "Hey, can I go?". 
And then Rich Wiggins, hearing about the trip, offered the loan of this wonderful little laptop with Verizon internet in exchange for us doing a little blogging along the way.  Thanks Rich!
So here we go, about 20 hours 'til departure, sitting in the Peanut Barrel finalizing the details.


California HOOOOOOOO!

ca_ date_29_July2004_6:52, pm
Location: Peanut Barrel, Planning Session . . .