An end and a beginning

11/01/2010

What follows is the last post, for now, in Quantum Forest. It is also the first one in the ‘yet to be named’ (codename conuco) new place. I just need to get rid of all the ballast, rescue what I still like from here and then nuke the place.

Very few things last forever. Forever used to mean a hundred or a thousand years—even the universe had a beginning and will have an end; today it could mean three, five years. One of the reasons things last so long (or so little) is the need for self-consistency.

Consistency can be good when we are true to our best, but it can be a drag when we want to become better. I have to break now with over six years of ‘backward compatibility’, which means starting over. Elizabeth Bishop wrote:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

The art of losing, the art of letting go, the art of dharma practice aren’t hard to understand, but one needs a life (or two) to master them. Starting over is the first step of the life to master.

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The sentinel

5/01/2010

What?

Our pet feline taking care of the house from the roof.

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New year flowers

1/01/2010

Flowers

Simple flowers in my backyard.

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Back from Sweden

17/12/2009

I am back in Christchurch from my last trip of the year. This time was Sweden, where I was the opponent of a Ph.D. student (now Dr Berlin).

SwedenTrip.gif

The last 40,000 km for this year; take that extra C02.

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Ten year plan

3/12/2009

At the end of 1999 I spent a month putting together a simple vertically and horizontally integrated model of forest industry (using Matlab). During the same time I documented the work, which with minor modifications turned into a paper published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research (reference 11§). Later, in early 2001, I wrote a conference paper that explained why breeding objectives were often not properly defined in tree breeding programs (reference 12§). That was my last direct work on the topic looking at pushing some boundaries, although references 23 and 31§ still explored marginal applications for breeding objectives.

At the time I could see several flaws with my 1999 model, flaws which have only become more apparent with time. There are more traits that should have been included (e.g. wood stiffness at the sawmill level) and I identified but never included re-optimizations of the system that are bound to happen when making good genetic progress. In addition, everything was done with bioeconomic models, which do have some economic limitations.

Lately I have been working with a student really looking at the problem again and, although we still have some pending issues, we have had a fresh look again. It has been ten years, but sometimes we need distance (or lag) to see things under new light. References 41 and 43§ are the beginning of a more comprehensive look at breeding objectives.

Funnily enough, when looking at the use of my papers in ‘Web of Science’ I have identified an interesting pattern. Papers that adopt a different/alternative approach tend to take around five years to start being referenced. By then, I have just moved away from the topic and it may take me five more years to come back with something new. This is my five + five years cycle for research topics.

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Olvidalia

21/11/2009

Traveling between wooden temples, with columns that took centuries to growth in height and diameter, I try to understand the barriers. Why do we stop just before reaching the summit? Why do we try to solve the same problem, in the same way, all over again? (Needless to say to no avail).

Temples have a strange symbolism, because their walls represent our failures, our defects. The same walls contain the following inscription:

It is not external things that restrict us; it is our minds that are attached to things that restrict us — Ryōshun Nakano.

The problem is that if we forget the restrictions we could actually solve the problem: a whole industry of pessimism down the drain.

temple.jpg
Walking in Kyoto.

This is a translation of something I wrote here§. Olvidalia is a made up word deriving from Olvidar, to forget.

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Brilliant trees

20/11/2009

Christoph Niemann’s illustrations§.

gingko.jpg

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Now I understand the Nobel prize

15/10/2009

sorenson2.jpg

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Calm

2/10/2009

CalmInKyoto.jpg

A moment to think and relax (Kyoto).

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Small steps, huge steps

30/09/2009

<rant>

I love when organizations pretend to catch up with the outside world and try to sound all hip and convinced. Let’s all be sustainable and sustain this, sustain that. And they take puny steps and separate rubbish in three different bins and move the time cost of that separation to their most expensive employees. But they are on the high ground because, you know, they care about being sustainable. Except when they don’t.

They may have the chance to support an idea with the potential to change two industries that operate at the landscape level. But the idea is too simple, it does not sound revolutionary enough, it does not have the appropriate level of ‘hipness’. And they drop the ball, and we continue operating in the same way. But ’sustainability’ is a priority.

</rant>

Well, now I feel better.

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