Last month I was lucky to visit the Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks for the first time. It was relaxing, educational, and fun. And I learned a thing or two from the trees.
1. Certain things have been here way longer than modern man and have survived through thick and thin; this should give our lives perspective. The giant sequoia trees I saw were literally thousands of years old. The General Sherman Tree, the largest known tree on Earth, is 2,500 years old. These trees have lived through all the major wars of history, enormous natural disasters, and huge changes in climate and civilization around them. Compared to that, what is our relative importance? What can we learn from their survival?
2. A giant sequoia comes from a tiny cone. In the picture above, the cone for the giant sequoia is the small egg-shaped one, whereas the other cones that are much bigger come from (eventually) much smaller trees like pine. This goes to show that you can't judge one's full potential from one's modest beginnings and that sometimes the biggest things come from the humblest starts.
3. Sequoias need fire to live and grow. Fire is necessary for their survival and replication. At one time firefighters stopped forest fires too early, and this harmed the tree population; now they know the importance of allowing natural fires to do their work. Fires increase the temperature of the cones that fall from the tree, which burns away the outside and activates the seedlings inside to allow reproduction.
4. Sequoias help each other out. They grow deep roots underground and share water with each other. This is how they are able to survive extremely long periods of drought.
5. People tried to cut down giant sequoias that grew for thousands of years for their wood, just to discover they weren't really usable for that purpose. How do we avoid such mistakes in the future?
I realized I never posted the videos of the Authors at Google talks I've helped set up so far. I have another very exciting one coming up later this month, so I wanted to first post the ones I've done so far.
Below is the first talk I ever set up. I had the pleasure of hosting Donnie Eichar, author of Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. We talked about science, hiking, crazy trips to Russia, and various spooky theories of how the Dyatlov Pass mystery could be solved.
I was lucky to spend a weekend in Seattle recently, and it was my first time to really experience the city. I found it to be a really lively, quirky, and eclectic place. It seemed to have so much condensed in so much less space than I'm used to, which was cool.
I liked the huge variety of restaurants (I heard they even had several chocolate and bakery tasting tours in the city). I loved the arrays of quirky shops one after another (like Bella Umbrella [an umbrella store], a hat store, an Afghani clothing store, a lavender store, a magic shop, a dog shop, a Mexican folk arts store [all around the same block]). I thought the fish throwers in Pike Place were cool, and I liked the first Starbucks with the original, more risqué, logo. It was sad how the first Starbucks was so packed with tourists that it didn't even have tables to enjoy your coffee there.
Tea tasting at a Chinese tea shop was fun. The actual tea was pretty inexpensive.
I saw several "teriyaki + nails" places: Japanese food on the first floor and nail salon on the second floor (but sharing the same banner space in the window making it look like it was teriyaki nails).
Aqua Restaurant and Steelhead Diner: mmm good.
Post alley: Got to add some gum to the famous (and slightly disgusting) gumwall and caught a really funny improv comedy show by Unexpected Productions.
Space Needle and monorail were cool.
Grayline Bus Tour and Underground Tour (showing the city fire and reconstruction) were cool.
Fran's Chocolates: Loved the chocolate portrait that was 5' x 7' made of chocolate. Had the best hot chocolate I've ever had in the U.S. at this place. Salted caramels were great too.
Lots of dogs everywhere! I heard about some area within Seattle that has a 2:1 dog:kid ratio.
Chihuly garden and glass exhibit: Really cool museum.