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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bonneville Dam – Columbia River

One nice thing about the universe is that it pretty consistently follows rules. As hard as I have prayed for exceptions to the rules and as much as I would like the rules to submit or bend to my wishes, I guess I appreciate how they don’t. Consistent rules make science possible. When matter and energy act in a characteristic manner, it becomes possible to figure out what happens next.

Careful observations lead to experiments which lead to greater understanding of rules which sometimes leads to new interesting ways to manipulate matter and energy.

Observation: Golfer dies after lightning strike.
Hypothesis: Sky-god hates golf, golfers, or golf clubs.
Experiment: Initial attempts at making golf club shaped lightning rods.

Observation: Excessive cat petting results in mini lightning bolts.
Hypothesis: God may be a cat.
Experiment: Worship cat and see if life improves.

Careful scrutiny of disparate phenomena have resulted in today’s modern water-powered turbines which create millions of volts of electrical power by turning thousands of live cats against rotor housings lined with shag carpet

Original Power House on the Oregon side of the river

A universe that follows rules sometimes seems like a cold, heartless place where skeptics pooh-pooh supernatural interference, homeopathy and omnipotent invisible beings that spend inordinate amounts of time determining whether you are naughty or nice.

The same power house but this time viewed from the reservoir side.

It’s a universe where reason tends to look condescendingly towards carelessly described ‘miracles’ of escapes from tornados and train-wrecks and addiction filled lives.

2nd Powerhouse viewed from Table Mountain Trail

The real ‘miracle’ is an intricate universe where the rules are complex enough to allow for the ‘breath of life’ to animate creatures of dust...

…where love repeatedly winks in and out of existence like fireflies in a field…

Hubble Space Telescope Image – Gravitational lens

…where stars and galaxies coalesce in a headlong rush away from some unexplainable beginning…

Spillway – Bonneville Dam

… where clever monkeys impose their imperfect will on their poorly understood environments.

Lichen – Rock on Bradford Island

Quite without wits, a fungus appropriates photosynthetic algae in a symbiotic, perhaps parasitic relationship that allows them, together, to survive on rock or sterile soil or even in space.

Fish ladder – Bradford Island

Having electrical power is good.
Killing an entire species of salmon is bad.
Clever monkeys begin to seek balance.

Fish Ladder – Second Powerhouse – Washington Shore

Transmission Lines – Bradford Island

Beacon Rock in the background – View from Bradford Island

Bonneville Fish Hatchery – Tanner Creek – Oregon Shore

“For every 1000 salmon that Bonneville Hatchery releases, only three return as adults.”

-Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife-

White Sturgeon – Sturgeon Viewing Center – Bonneville Fish Hatchery

Rainbow Trout – Rainbow Trout Ponds – Bonneville Fish Hatchery

An opportunistic sea lion feeds on fish in the vicinity of Cascades Island. Opportunistic clever monkeys seek its death warrant. Balance, it seems, depends on your point of view.

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