So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Cherry Hills Vil, CO
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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
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre à la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
An entry about my actual day
Wednesday. 3.14.07 12:07 am
Today turned out to be a pretty good day for me. I went down just on time to leave for the conference, Lillian had picked up a blueberry muffin for me before they ran out so that I wouldn't starve and fall asleep during morning session (and it worked!--- plus morning session was actually interesting...) It was about the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter, which is our sort of newest Mars orbiter. It has a really amazing camera which gets down to like 30 centimeter resolution. That means that if you were to lie out like you were making a snow angel on the surface of Mars, we'd be able to see you in our images (from ORBIT!). We've been targeting it at different places and finding little pieces of spacecraft all over the place (the Voyager landers, Mars Pathfinder, the two MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity, all of their heat shields and air balloons). We still can't find the lost European rover the Beagle, poor dear, but the Europeans insist that we aren't looking in the right place.
Then I got an email! yay! For lunch we ate mexican for the third time in three days, then we went to the afternoon session. Here my advisor was going to present some pretty gutsy interpretations and we didn't know how the community was going to react. He finished his talk and he always talks for too long so there wasn't any time for questions but there were tons of people lined up to ask questions because everyone was really riled up about the talk. My friend Joe had the talk immediately after, and his was short enough so that people could ask questions, so people addressed one question to him and then this really respected Caltech modeler got up to the mic and we didn't know what he'd say, and he said he had not really a question but a comment, and we waited in suspense and then he said that he was absolutely so impressed with Joe's talk and my advisor's talk and that the results were stunning and our interpretations were great and that he'd been looking high and low for a good Earth analog for these features on Mars and he'd asked everyone he knew and that these were the most amazing and persuasive analogs he'd seen and that we should be proud. And we were accordingly very proud.
Then I got another email! :D
After that we were riding high on a cushion of beaming praise and some of us went and ate ice cream for dinner and I had double dark chocolate with crushed oreos and then we went back for the poster session. At first I wandered around, meeting some people and looking for a spot out of the way where I could read my book, but then I got distracted talking to this charming old British modeler guy whom I'm hoping to collaborate with on some Mars volcanism stuff. We talked about jet engines and various kinds of turbulently convecting plumes. I'd sent him some comments and questions about the draft of his paper and he'd corrected his paper to include some of my suggestions (MY suggestions! someone cares what I suggest!!?). He said that at one of my questions he'd been puzzled because he could have sworn that the answer to my question was already in the paper. Turns out he'd done the whole calculation and written it out, but he'd put it in a folder in December and forgotten to type it into the paper at the last minute! I guess not even the reviewers had mentioned that, eh? So he put it in and he and my advisor acknowledged me at the end for my "valuable input" or something (I haven't read exactly what they said yet, my advisor just told me that they'd put it in).
Then I went around, talking to people, feeling smug because I was part of "my advisor's group" who knew all about the crazy martian features when everyone else was just trying to collect themselves off the floor after the implications of my advisor's talk had been realized. Sometimes I purposefully turned my nametag around so that they would tell me how they were sure the problem hadn't been solved and that my advisor couldn't possibly have the answer, without knowing that secretly I was like, "but ohO! What if he does?! What if I have been talking about this for weeks?!!"
I also ran into my planetary hero: B. Lucchitta, who is this amazing Italian woman who discovered every single thing like 20 years before everyone else did. I mean, everything. She mapped Ganymede, she talked about wrinkle ridges on the moon, she invented lineated valley fill on Mars from extremely coarse resolution viking data... she's amazing. I agree whole-heartedly with pretty much everything she ever wrote. Whenever I think to myself, "Man, this person really knows what they're talking about" then it always turns out to be her. And I met her!! Yay! I told her that I admired her work and how I kept reading these papers that people did in the 80s saying exactly what she did in the 60s only acting like they figured it out first. She told me that that was exactly what happened, and the fact that I knew that meant that I was a good researcher and that it meant that I actually read books and went to libraries instead of trying to find everything online. She said recently she'd reviewed a paper and told the person a bunch of references and they had the audacity to write back and ask her to send them all the reference-links online. She was like, "GO TO THE LIBRARY!!!! AGHHHH!!!" Wow. So cool. She's a real person!!
Then I talked to Debra and Sylvan for a really really long time, especially Debra because she's thinking about coming here and working with my advisor. My advisor kept drifting over to hear what we were saying and then putting his hands up and saying, "Oh! don't mind me I won't interrupt, I don't want to stop your conversation!" and then he would drrrift away. He wants Debra to come and work for him. She's scared to hell of him of course, as anyone would be, seeing as he's rather famous and also a little famous for being a character. She said that he seemed so nice and down to Earth and didn't seem at all like people made him out to be. I remember when he made me nervous. I wonder if people like that are aware at how nervous they can make prospective students. I also got to see my old undergrad advisor who was a former student of my current advisor, and the current advisor of Debra.
Then I came home and I'd gotten another email!! :D
Tomorrow we're getting doughnuts for breakfast and getting there early so we can get good seats for the Mars Exploration Rover talks which start at 8:30. Can't wait to see what kind of interesting data those crazy martian rovers have collected! I think they might have another session on Saturn's moon, Titan, too. Titan is pretty amazing because it is the only planet besides Earth (and maybe Mars in the distant past) that has active fluvial processes. It appears that Titan has a whole mess of lakes that are full of liquid... and rivers, and seas, and clouds and rain... but the liquid would be methane-nitrogen instead of water!! All the rocks on Titan are made from water ice and hydrocarbons (which could run your car for a month!) instead of silicates like all the rocks on the Earth!!!
Anyway, all together a pretty amazing day. I only almost fell asleep in lecture once, and I saved myself by leaving the room and checking my email. :D
I ain't never been to Texas
Thursday. 3.8.07 7:20 am
guess what, y'all?
I'm comin' to Texas on Friday for the big planetary conference and I'm stayin' for a week and a day! Hi-ho, warm weather!!! Houston, here I come! yee-haw!
Working at the olfactory
Wednesday. 3.7.07 11:44 pm
So apparently they've previously done these studies on Drosophila (the typo de fruit fly) which indicate that if you constantly keep them on the edge of starvation, they live longer than their well-fed counterparts. Interesting.
Well, a little more recently they did a study that says that if you let them smell food, say, in the next room, or through a mesh, then most of the benefits that they get from being starved all the time are lost. They still live a little longer than well-fed flies, but much less long than starved flies who can't smell food. Just to be consisent, if all the flies live in the same room with a room with food adjoining, the flies with their olfactory organs disabled or removed will live longest.
So I guess there are two questions to be asked here: First, would you let someone keep you almost starved all the time if it meant that you would live a longer life?
For me the answer would be a resounding no.
The second question might be a little harder. Say that it is a given that you are kept at the brink of starvation. Nothing can be done about that. Would you give up a little bit of your longevity to be able to smell the smell of food in the next room? Maybe you wouldn't, because smelling the food and not being able to eat it would just be like torture. But think about it- you wouldn't be able to smell the little bit you would be able to eat, either. What if you had to give up taste, too? Would you give up your senses of smell and taste for longevity? What if you were 40 you were suddenly dying of a mysterious ailment and you obviously have many years yet ahead of you and somebody gave you the chance to escape by death by trading your senses of smell and taste (even if you weren't starving)? Would you do it?
Where the Wind Blows Forever
Tuesday. 3.6.07 8:14 pm
There are times I canâ€™t stand this world anymore
Like a prisoner I watch the birds fly
There are times I can feel I could reach out for more
Then I lay in the grass and I stare at the sky
If I could fly away over the fields
I wouldnâ€™t stay in this place any longer
And if I could fly away over the sea
In my songs I would write how it is to be free
Where the wind blows forever
Iâ€™d try to go
Where nothing else matters anymore
Thatâ€™s where I belong
To the places unknown
There is my home
When I open my eyes the dream is gone
I will never be able to fly
Then I raise my head to the place thatâ€™s my home
And I lay on the ground and I start to cry
And then again I can see
All this beauty around
I will stay in this world
With my feet on the ground
Like the other ones (everybody else) and Iâ€™ll never be
Like a bird flying over the sea
The Lonely Corridors of my own Mind
Monday. 3.5.07 6:39 pm
I read this story about this woman who got hit by a car when she was 18 or something... that day she'd broken up with her boyfriend and gone out on the town... she was walking across the street when a drunk driver hit her. She was in a coma. Years went by. Decades went by. Her parents were very attentive, and then one day they just freaked out and ran away to live in a trailer park in Arizona for a couple of years. They finally got themselves back together and moved back to their hometown and resumed care of their daughter, but they worked with therapists and people to slowly remove her from their lives, so that they'd only visit her every so often. They had to figure out how to live a normal life (and provide a stable home for her little brother!).
One day the father picked up the phone and someone said, "Hi Dad."
It was their daughter. She woke up. 20 years had gone by. She still thought she was 18, but she seemed to know about events like 9/11, which she could only have known by listening to the TV in her room while she was in her comatose state.
After reading this story, I began doing some research on comatose states. (uh, instead of research on volcanic ash falls.... leave me alone!)
Obviously this girl's case was way different than Terry Schiavo, whose mind was total jell-o. Through the years she'd moved her eyelids now and then, and her parents had done some physical and swallowing therapy with her so that those muscles wouldn't turn to glop. She still can't swallow well, but she's making progress.
They say that there are tons of different kinds of comatose states, from the "for all practical purposes dead" kind like Terry Schiavo to people who are even more aware than this girl Sarah Scantlin, who are literally locked inside their unresponsive bodies, totally aware of everything around them but unable to move. So maybe like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill- I got the impression that that was the way hers was. How she was able to like kill people and do karate after letting her muscles pond and atrophy for weeks or months is unknown. That usually isn't part of the recovery, if there is one.
The articles say that that kind of comatose state is definitely the worst kind from a philosophical perspective (usually from a medical perspective it is good because it means you aren't totally braindead) for the person in it as well as for the family, who knows that the person is "stuck" in there. One man thought that this was the state that his son was in- and since he had nothing to gain from being in the hospital, they just brought him home and treated him like a normal member of the family, even though he couldn't respond to anything. They took him out with them and took him on vacations and had birthdays for him and read to him and took pictures of him... and lo and behold eventually he woke up and he was so grateful because he was completely conscious that entire time, and it's like he still got to be a part of their lives even though he couldn't relay to them that he was there.
As I said though, it would be the best state to be in if you were planning on making a full recovery, even though I'm sure during the interim you would wish multiple times that you weren't so conscious. Sarah's mind is coming back, but she still thinks she's 18 and it's going to be a bit of a shock realizing that she isn't anymore. They did say that she could recognize old friends who had aged 20 years, which is pretty good. She kept asking after the family pets, who were of course long dead.
But talk about BOREDOM! Talk about LONELINESS! I first started thinking about this in terms of blindness, but that kind of coma would be so much worse.
Now I am alone in here, free to explore only the lonely corridors of my own mind, sifting through boxes in search of the rainbow, finding only scattered memories that fade everyday just as the light surely faded from my life. Deep within my own skin, at the bottom of a well, willing myself to climb out but endowed with arms I cannot operate. Powerless.
And blindness..... not the failure of focus, for which the conscious brain has forgotten the pathway, but the slow fading of the light, the rapid confusion of twilight, grasping at colors and images in desperate self-arrest down a steepening slope towards a void of blackness.
In other news, today my colleague was showing us his final poster for the conference and I spotted three or four pretty bad misspellings (centerimeter, accumilation, occurence) Our advisor wanted him to reprint it because the poster quality was bad because of the printer. This wasn't such a huge deal because he'd already made the poster into a pdf and he could just send it again at higher resolution. There was no way for me to bring the misspellings to notice without doing so in front of our advisor, which I felt like was in bad taste, so I just didn't mention them at all. I never know what to do in cases like that. Obviously had he solicited criticism I would have offered these corrections, and equally obviously if he hadn't intended to print it again I would have totally let it go. Should I have mentioned them?
Oftentimes, Scott makes me feel like this:
Sunday. 3.4.07 9:14 pm
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