A ship may be safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Paris, France
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The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:
Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
Friday. 8.10.07 9:19 pm
She crouched down further behind the barrels. What was she going to do now? Would invisible people notice if she came walking out, visible? That is... could they see one another? She had no idea how such things worked. It was certainly something they had failed to cover in her science class, along with everything else that seemed helpful for the real world.
There was only one way to find out. After all, nothing could be as strange as the place she had just come from, and these people seemed friendly enough. All she had to do was reach the edge of town- and then... then?
She squeezed out from behind the barrels and walked boldly into the crowd, her feet sinking into the shimmering golden sand that seemed to coat everything. Some of the invisible people seemed to turn towards her as she walked, but nobody moved to intercept her and nobody cried out at her.
Which way out of town? She decided to ask someone. Was everyone looking at her? No, just a few here and there, she thought. But she couldn't see their eyes, anyway, so how could you tell?
She should ask someone who looked like they knew where things were... someone who didn't look too busy, either. It was so difficult when you could not even see whether their face was kindly or their eyes focused on some important task. This was much more difficult than asking things of normal strangers, which in her opinion was already scary enough.
Tentatively she approached what looked like a large, floating dress wearing a fancy hat and carrying a parasol next to a finely tailored three-piece suit with a smart-looking walking stick.
"Excuse me very much," she said in her most polite voice, the one she always used with her father's important University guests, "Can you tell me which way it is to the edge of town, if you please?"
The large hat turned down at her. "My goodness," it said, or rather, the lady beneath the hat said, addressing the front of her jumper, "what an ostentatious accessory you have, young lady."
She looked down at her clothes. She was wearing a simple red jumper with a white undershirt, black socks, patent leather shoes and the red scarf her grandmother had knitted for her. That didn't seem very ostentatious at all.
She bowed apologetically. "I'm very sorry, ma'am." It seemed very frightening to stare at the blank space where the woman's face should be. One could not even guage her expression!
The hat jerked back suddenly. "Oh, my, I quite forgot that they talk! It's been so long since I've journeyed to any country where that is the style!" There was a fit of laughing, which seemed to contain more than one ladies' voice.
She looked around, startled, to see where the other voices had come from, but the other people in the marketplace seemed abnormally quiet and still.
"Why does it stare into empty space?" asked a different voice from the direction of the invisible woman, seeming to address again the front of her jumper instead of her face. "I've never heard good things about them," said a muffled female voice. "Just between you an me, I think they're a little tacky."
She stared wide-eyed at the dress, unsure of what to say. What did they mean when they said "it". What was staring into empty space?
"Why won't you answer me?" said the second voice, speaking from the vicinity of the dress. A velvet-glove emerged from the dress's sleeve and plucked at her jumper. "Hello!?!" said a fourth voice from the glove itself.
The glove flew back into the sleeve as if it had been burnt.
"Why.... I think it's DEAD!" it cried.
For a moment there was a pause, like a great taking in of breath as everyone in the marketplace drew back from her a single step. Then chaos was unleashed. Before she could even protest the hat gave a loud scream and fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. The dress leaned heavily against the three-piece-suit, dropping the parasol and leaving both velvet gloves hanging momentarily in the air. The muffled voice from within the dress began screaming in loud sharp bursts- and would not stop screaming. The three-piece-suit made a lunge towards her, but it could not make a proper move as it was burdened by the weight of the fancy dress and in many different pitches of men's voices it was trying to soothe the screaming voice from the interior of the dress.
Suddenly she was struck from behind by something hard and small. A radish! The urchins and the shop keeper had both turned from their argument and were throwing radishes at her! Without thinking, she started to run, blindly dashing away from the advancing mass of clothing and into any open space.
"MURDERER!" someone shouted, "It must have killed them!!"
She looked up too late to avoid running into a knot of customers emerging en masse from a nearby stall. They grabbed her fiercely with their sleeve cuffs and pant cuffs and anything they could muster and threw her to the sandy ground. She wrestled against them-- their strangeness, their many voices, their lack of faces- their lack of hands, their lack of anything human besides clothes! Clothes!! Sand was filling up her shoes and getting in her ears and eyes. A large amount went spilling down the back of her neck.
Then there was a shout, a shout which emanated from her but at the same time certainly did not emanate from her at all.
"Get away! Get away! You hear! She didn't kill us! You hear! We're very much alive!"
The jackets and workshirts that she had been tussling with got to their feet, shrugging their headless shoulders and turning to one another. She was pulled up by her jumper... quite literally pulled up by it as she was certainly untouched by anything else.
"I am quite sorry." said the voice, coming decidedly from her jumper itself, which was now dirty beyond belief. "I believe you thought that we were dead. We are not. Thank-you for your concern, but my goodness, what a reaction! We had employed this human to ferry us through this country so that we could rest ourselves from our long travel. I am sorry, I am a foreigner and not used to the customs here. I did not realize that our human would find trouble. I understand that you are not used to seeing humans here."
The crowd rustled amongst itself in its strange, thatchy voices. Some apologies were mumbled, and they began self-consciously brushing themselves off.
The three-piece-suit finally came foward. He was cradling the lady's hat in the crook of his sleeve. "Please, young lady, let me apologize," he said, addressing her jumper, "we have heard stories about human beings wearing about suits of lifeless clothing... you can imagine how horrifying that would be... I am so sorry for our error. Please know that we welcome foreigners in our peaceful land, and I hope you do not judge it by our hasty actions."
She curtsied involuntarily and gave an awkward bow.
"Of course no offense has been meant, and none shall be taken," replied her jumper generously. "If you will kindly point us to the way out of the city, all will be forgiven."
This Webcomic is My Life
Friday. 8.10.07 8:07 pm
Thursday. 8.9.07 9:42 pm
"Wow!" said my advisor, looking over my shoulder at where I was pointing on Mars.
"You've made a discovery!!"
Somehow I wasn't really that excited about my discovery. I don't even know what my discovery implies, and now I have to write an abstract about it for a conference in Moscow that I'm not even going to.
My advisor reassured me earlier that he wasn't going to just make me into a "mechanic", someone who knows how to do everything but never gets to really interpret and discover things in her own research (because that's kind of what's happening right now with the Mars General Circulation Model). Well, frankly, I'm much better at being a mechanic, and I get a lot more pleasure out of it than I get out of "making discoveries". I like helping people better than I like being "famous". My perfect job would be if someone gave me a problem, I went out into the field and did all the field work, came back home, analyzed it all in a lab, made figures, wrote a lit-review, methods, and results, and then somebody else came along and praised me profusely, wrote my conclusion, and ran away with my paper to do with it as they pleased. They could really just write the whole paper if they wanted.
That is to say, I like figuring out how to solve problems... I don't really care what the answer is. Does that make me a bad scientist? Hmm... I think this means I'm going to have to go into industry....
Hot hot heat
Thursday. 8.9.07 12:35 am
If were to write a series of books based on my friend Toku and his adventures in America, the first one would naturally be "Tokuhiro Comes To America" and there would be one called "Tokuhiro Goes to New York City" and of course "Tokuhiro Goes to the Beach" and maybe "Merry Christmas, Tokuhiro!"
But the book that would be about today would be called
"Tokuhiro Saves the Day"
because that is precisely what he did.
It was after work, around 6:30 or so, and I was still working as I often am, between checking the rates of U-Hauls and reading the Onion, of course, and Toku came down into the lab. He was so sorry to bother me, he got across, but the RELAB was very hot. The RELAB is a laboratory run by some of my favorite professors which measures the spectra of small objects (oftentimes meteorites and lunar rocks and soils). It is very expensive and delicate. In fact, in order to enter the RELAB you must don little white booties and spin yourself in through one of those darkroom doors. The fact that it was hot was a little disturbing-- after all, some of the instruments in there are dedicated to measuring things in the near IR part of the spectrum... heat! Toku indicated that it is usually not hot in there. So Toku found the closely guarded code to the door and we booted up and spun around into the lab, where it was about 79 degrees, even though the thermostat was set with a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 60 degrees F. There was even a humidity guage... I began to think that someone liked to strictly regulate the heat in this room and that something had gone quite awry.
So I called. I called everyone I could think of. The head of the relab was on a ranch in New Mexico for the summer. The second in command is in Japan. We called almost every professor in the planetary department with no success. Then I called all of the students who had ever worked in RELAB. No success--- they were all supposed to be playing frisbee until 9 pm! Then I called all of the technical staff. Then the administrative staff. I finally got one of the secretaries who was like, "What? I don't think we can do anything. I'll call someone tomorrow if you want. But write me an email, because I'm definitely going to forget about whatever it is that you said was going on by tomorrow." I got a hold of some random students, who suggested some other people to call, but I couldn't reach those people, either.
We went back up to the lab, where in a half an hour the temperature had climbed to 83 degrees.
Surely there was an emergency number? Toku said that he emailed the second-in-command in Japan, since he checks his email a lot. I had no idea what time it would be in Japan. Toku thanked profusely me for my help accompanying his words with a series of short bows but worried that I worried too much. He told me that he would attend to the problem himself from now on because he hadn't meant to disturb me when I was busy. I looked at him dubiously but I agreed that I'd go home and since he works late I told him to check on the lab later tonight and call me if it was "very very hot".
As a last effort, I sent an email out to everyone that I had called and some people who I hadn't (namely the Professor in Charge of Everything), explaining the problem. It was she who finally wrote me back (the only one out of the lot to respond at all). She called the emergency number that had been escaping me and a crack team of the building maintenance team was dispatched to fix the problem immediately. Her email was littered with exclamation marks.
So as far as I know, everything is going to be ok.
And all because of Tokuhiro, who Saved the Day.
Tuesday. 8.7.07 10:02 pm
When she opened the tiny door the flood of noise that had been heretofore muted sprang into lively eddies of echo throughout the small shaft. Her way seemed blocked once again, this time by several large, dusty barrels which had been pushed up against the opening. Through the barrels she could just see little flashes of color as people milled about outside. A marketplace!
She could hear a multitude of strange, rasping voices like thatch on burlap, hawking their wares. Birds this way! Here, some fish! Five! said a woman, Not a penny less!
What a relief to be in a marketplace! No more sneaking about, a real crowd of people out in the sunlight, friendly people, going about their business like nothing at all had happened! She pushed at the barrels with her hands. They were very heavy. Smoothing the bottom of her jumper under her legs and sitting back on her hips, she braced her arms against the frame of the door and pushed heavily with her legs. The barrel slid a little way out. She gave another push, and it gave another inch, turning slightly along its rim. She slipped down from the door and into the space behind the barrels.
From here she could see the marketplace. There were a great variety of tiny carts and shops, each shadowed by its own awning and obscured by its own mass of customers. The were carts selling great heaps of vegetables, including a cart selling only radishes. There were so many radishes they overflowed onto the ground and the shopkeeper was angrily defending the edge of his domain with a broomstick from a group of little urchins who squatted in the dust nearby.
But this is not what she noticed about the marketplace.
The people... if they could be called people... were not people at all, but only the clothes of people, animately moving about the scene as if filled by flesh. But they were glarely empty of anything like living bodies. Why, but they must be invisible people, she thought, a wave of fresh sweat breaking suddenly across her brow.
The shopkeeper at the radish stand was nothing more than a study brown work apron, a pair of coarse brown trousers and a stiff white shirt. He wore a key round his upper arm on an elastic band. His cuffs were wrapped around the broom, which he continued to wave erratically at the young... rags... that's all they were, a pile of dirty rags and faded t-shirts, darting out and fetching radishes, which disappeared into the folds of their clothing. That's all they seemed to be, her mind said, checking itself. Invisible people!
Everyone (Helena) was doing it...
Tuesday. 8.7.07 8:08 am
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