Jul 31

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World, by Benjamin Schumacher ????

This was a hard series to rate, in that, while holding my interest, I fell asleep at the end of about all 24 of the lectures. Schumacher was not boring, so I couldn’t fault him. He also generated enough interest on my part to pull out some light reading books by Richard Feynman on Physics, and enquire about more substantial quantum mechanics textbooks. He brought back memories of Physical Chemistry which I took for one year in college, in which we used the essentials of quantum mechanics quite heavily for our calculations, but of which the third term was spent doing simple solutions of the Schrödinger equation for the hydrogen atom. It seemed a little strange trying to teach quantum mechanics without mathematics. So, it ended up being more a “Quantum Mechanics for Psychology Majors” class, something which nobody could really take seriously. Dr. Schumacher covered the history of quantum mechanics, some of the basic ideas, and discussion of how quantum mechanics differs from how we see and experience the macroscopic world. I found the discussion of his work in quantum informatics to be most interesting. Should he edit this course for a new edition, I would like to see him a) include more mathematics, even if it is not totally understood, b) speak more about the history of quantum mechanics, especially in the most recent several decades, and c) include more discussion of sub-atomic work, such as quarks, muons, etc. and discuss how they tie into the quantum mechanics discussion, and d) discuss more fully how relativity and quantum mechanics conflicts and interacts in understanding the universe.

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Jul 30

26JUL2010   Total travel time 2:49, 68 km, 120 m ascent, 2958 cal.
I finally have been able to break away for a week to do some cycle touring. Russ A and I were dropped off in Darrington by Lucas, who rode about 40 miles with us. We spent the first night in the park lawn of Newhalem, having grabbed dinner at the country store, which closes about 5 pm. We were able to order some cold sandwiches, and even a beer. I was then able to finish Pat Buchanan’s book, and finish writing a review for this book on Betsy’s iPad, which she so graciously let me borrow. I’m beginning to love these little devices, as they are perfect for travel, since all I need is some word processing, and occasional Internet connection on WiFi. It is awesome at holding a charge. I thought that I’d never like the bugger, but I now prefer this over my laptop for travel, which is heavy, an energy monster, and not as versatile in many ways. I especially liked the iBooks option, which is a color improvement over the Kindle. The General (Pat C) had a Kindle on our ACA trip last year, and I was quite interested in it’s ability to provide availability to multiple books.

27JUL2010   Time 8:40 distance 120.3 km 1594 m total ascent, 6680 cal
Today was a most challenging day. We started from Newhalem, WA and rode to Winthrop. In the process, we needed to cross the North Cascades, and the pass is not an easy one. Actually, there are two passes, Rainy and then Washington Pass. After completing Rainy Pass on fully loaded touring bicycles, we were getting pretty beat. By the time we arrived in Winthrop, we were exhausted. It didn’t help that the last ten miles was greeted with a very strong head wind. Russ and I survived, especially owing to the spectacular scenery on the Passes. We might be invalids tomorrow!

28JUL2010   Time 3:11, distance 67 km, ascent 166 m, cal 2259
As one could see, today was an easy day. We needed it after yesterday, and today was also quite hot, especially in the afternoon. So, we rode from Winthrop tp Pateros. I am now looking out on the Columbia River. We went swimming in the hotel pool to cool off, and am able to relax. We’ve encountered a number of foreign cyclists on the route who are hitting the North Cascades, and it is interesting how much this part of the world attracts everybody else, yet this is only the second time I’ve ever been across the North Cascades highway. The cycle ride itself was reasonably flat, but the heat was still oppressive, as we followed the course of the Methow River before it flows into the Columbia River at Pateros.

29JUL2010  Riding time 4:40 distance 93 km, ascent 381 m, 3250 cal.
Travel today was between Pateros and Wenatchee, WA. The route followed the Columbia River all the way, though it was rolling hills, some as much as a persistent (2-3km) 5% grade. We started at 6 am in the morning, but by 10 am the heat was already quite sweltering. I couldn’t have ridden too much longer today because of the heat. The morning was absolutely gorgeous with sun glowing on the sides of the cliffs beside the Columbia River. We passed multiple fruit stands, affording us an opportunity to purchase fruit for the road. Peaches never tasted so good! Finally, in Wenatchee, we were able to catch the Trailway bus back to Tacoma. We wanted to take the train, but they would not allow us to check on our bicycles in Wenatchee, so, we took the bus. At first, Mr. Sourpuss at the checkout counter told us that we could not take our bicycles, but a very nice bus driver let us stick the bicycles In the luggage compartment anyway. So, it was a fantastic cycle trip with a fantastic friend.

I again did not take nearly enough photos. There isn’t much diffent that I’ll need to do for further road trips except to get in better shape. I hope that the issue is simply that of being a novice in cycle touring, and the more I do cycle touring with friends, I’ll be able to plan better, and utilize the time to not force mileage, but to enjoy each mile ridden. This will take time and experience. Further mid-summer trips should be planned for the coast, and not in eastern/central Washington. Maybe we could do part of the Pacific Coast route next summer.

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Jul 27

Bach Organ Works, performed by Simon Preston ?????

I was a little leery of getting yet another set of Bach Organ works, since both the Peter Herford and Helmut Walcha sets are superb. Preston offers a change of venue, with many of the Bach pieces not performed in a perfectly traditional manner. Yet, the performances were entirely compelling, and most interesting to listen to. Oftentimes, syncopation or variations in volume or tonal presentation made a completely different piece than is traditionally heard. This is a very worthy purchase for the Bach lover. Quite honestly, I think that Bach would approve entirely of this performance. Remember that Bach quite often re-worked the pieces of other composers in order to hear them in a fresh manner. These works are definitely fresh, and bring an intense amount of life and vitality to what might otherwise be considered fairly boring works.

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Jul 26

Pat Buchanan, Day of Reckoning, 26JUL2010 ?????

Buchanan, in his inimitable style, discusses the many things on his mind that he feels is wrong with America. His sweep of subjects is quite large, covering the destructive ideology of multiculturalism and racism, the loss of a public morality, our inability to develop a clear policy toward immigrants that supports American interests, the serious trade imbalance in the name of “free markets”, the loss of America’s industrial base, American imperialism throughout the world, with disastrous consequences on our friends and dose who are not our enemies, specific foreign policy blunders also being mentioned, from our recent treatment of Russia and Iran, all attesting to a direction that very well will lead to the downfall of the USA. This book is a valuable book for those who regard Ameica as home, and who choose not to expatriate. Highly recommended and an easy read.

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Jul 21

Bicycle riding in Eastern Washington, the Palouse-Dayton, Walla Walla Region 15-18JULY2010

Russ, Luke, and I as well as Peter decided to head off to eastern Washington to do some cycle riding.

The above photo includes Pete, Howie, Jake, Lucas, and Russ standing in the Blue Mountains after visiting an old family hunting site.

We stayed with a relative of Russ, Howie, who has a cabin in the Blue Mountains of eastern Washington, next to his charming bruder Jake.

Howie is on the left, Jake on the right. We did short and long rides each day. The weather was gorgeous, though a bit hot for my liking, being up to 33?. The Palouse contains not only the Blue Mountains, but wheat fields as far as the eye could see. You can see our motley crew resting by a wheat field.

Each evening, we cooked up a meal, and Lucas would retreat to study. Study? My goodness, he has forgotten that he graduated from college!

Reality hit, and he had to pack off back home…

Total mileage was

15JUL 24.5 km, 414 m elevation gain

16JUL 120 km, 1173 m elevation gain

17JUL 95 km, 576 m elevation gain

18JUL 38 km, 325 m elevation gain

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