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
The Advantages of Having No Friends
Friday. 8.13.10 7:34 pm
Yeah, back in my first year of graduate school I had no friends.
So I spent all my time writing essays on Nutang and creating art. I got back into drawing, I wrote stories, I tried out things in pastels.
I haven't drawn anything in ages.
So tonight, in lieu of figuring out what people are doing, I've downloaded a bunch of stock photos from Deviantart and I'm going to go artify myself in an undisclosed location where there are no people. And no cell reception.
I need some alone time.
::Update:: My friends want me to plan and organize their Friday night, because they are apparently ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE OF PLANNING ANYTHING.
EVERY FRIEND I HAVE: "Uh, huhn, I guess it's not going to happen then, because it seems like nobody wants to really plan it... that's too bad... it would have been really fun.... what should we do instead? Do you have any ideas? What's open? Oh really... that sounds fun... is it far away? We don't really have anyone to drive, unfortunately, I could drive but I don't really want to... I guess we're just not going to get to go... that's too bad..."
Sweet Alien Hideout on Mars
Thursday. 8.12.10 11:29 am
This is definitely where I would live if I were a Martian. Or Osama Bin Laden.
One-Hundred Things for Di-Di
Thursday. 8.5.10 11:07 pm
1. The main reason I like math is because I like drawing little symbols and vector arrows.
2. I like drawing flowers because usually if you screw up a little bit it still looks like a flower.
3. I really don't like walking past construction workers on the street because I feel very vulnerable.
4. If I were a doctor, I would probably be a dermatologist because I have great pity for people with skin problems. I would still be grossed out by their skin problems, though, which is why I am not a doctor.
5. I am left-handed, and pretty ambidexterous.
6. I used to love playing Riven and Myst because I had to copy foreign-looking schematic diagrams and symbols and vectors (see #1)
7. I used to go into Petz chatrooms and tell people that I abused my Petz just to get them riled up. I would always pretend I had no idea what their problem was.
I guess I was a troll before trolls existed.
8. When I went online in the late 90s I always pretended I was a seventeen-year-old male, 5'10 with sandy hair and green eyes.
9. My favorite flower is the snapdragon, because I like squeezing the back of the flower and saying "MAHMAHMAHMAHMAH".
10. I love learning languages.
11. I think my main asset as a PhD student is the ability to do extremely tedious tasks for long periods of time.
12. When I was in Antarctica, my recurrent fantasy involved waking up in the middle of the night, putting my bare feet on a warm wooden floor, and walking to the bathroom. I guess that's what happens when your bathroom consists of a bucket located on the other side of a steep hill in sub-freezing temperatures.
13. I never write about people who I think might read my blog, even if I might think about them a lot.
14. I only like doing things that lead to me gaining lasting skills. This is why I prefer to play video games over watching TV (I didn't say the skills had to be important). This is also why I think long-distance running is pointless, because you're only in shape as long as you keep running.
15. If I could always repair and refurbish my current Toyota Camry, I would never desire another car.
16. I hardly even answer my phone because I hate it when other people answer their phones when I'm hanging out with them.
17. One of my main talents is my ability to fall asleep like a brick the moment my head hits the pillow.
18. I think of my friends as plants in a garden and I have to go around the garden every day tending to them, checking the soil, and touching their leaves so that they know I still care about them.
19. When I am thinking, I like to run my fingers through a box of tacks.
20. I have always been one of those people who thinks that this world might be a dream and when you die you'll just wake up.
21. I am very proud of Di-Di for all of his many successes. I am always telling people about him, beaming with pride, and hoping people don't ask me how we met.
22. My favorite teacher of all time was my 8th grade history teacher Mr. Edwards because he was so kind.
23. I love baking things.
24. I can't help but subconsciously imitate whomever I'm talking to, especially if they have an accent.
25. In high school I used to secretly hope that my parents would turn out to be sleeper spies and one day we would suddenly have to leave the country forever without telling anyone.
26. I am not afraid of falling from great heights; I am afraid I will jump.
27. I wish all obituaries and headstones would tell you how the person died.
28. I used to hate Mars until I found out that it had clouds.
29. As I've gotten older I've come to realize that being nice is more important than being funny.
30. I decided to become a geologist after a chance encounter with an upperclassman geologist who had just returned from two conferences in Mexico and Hawaii.
31. I have to know a guy for a least six months before the idea of kissing him even enters my head. Which makes dating in modern America difficult.
32. I think almost all beverages are a waste of calories except milk.
33. I have a magic oven that cooks everything 10-15 minutes faster than it should.
34. I owe my knowledge of the french language almost completely to my high school french teacher Monsieur Cronin.
35. In high school I played softball and soccer, ran track, and did Tae Kwon Doe.
36. In elementary/middle school I played soccer, basketball, and softball.
37. In college I took archery, rock climbing, track, sabre fencing, three levels of latin dance, two levels of social ballroom dance, fly fishing, break dancing, fire dancing, and weight lifting as gym classes. I took so many gym classes that they stopped giving me credit for them.
38. My goal in college was to graduate with a degree in "general adventuring".
39. I love throwing theme parties.
40. I still carry around a card with Maxwell's Equations on it in my wallet that my AP Physics teacher gave our class during high school.
41. I have been Open Water Scuba Certified for 11 years, but I have only been diving twice.
42. When I talk about Ranor to any of my groups of friends, I only refer to him as "Ranor" because they all know who I'm talking about, even if they've never met him.
43. I want to visit Norway, Finland, Morocco and Egypt.
44. I have taken classes in French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.
45. My little sister has the largest and deepest imagination of anyone I have ever encountered.
46. I have always wanted to dress as a Tetris piece for Halloween.
47. 47 is my college's special number. I see it everywhere I go.
48. My Tae Kwon Doe master said that you should always walk around with your abs flexed, so I do.
49. The two things for which I judge people most unforgivingly are stealing and cheating on their s/os.
50. One time I kissed a guy who had a girlfriend. Every day I wish I could find the girl, grovel at her feet, and beg her forgiveness for being such a heinous bitch.
51. One of my least favorite activities is coming up with a "group mission statement".
52. I hate the taste of alcohol. It makes me feel like I'm pouring poison down my throat.
53. Sometimes when I'm at the dentist I pretend that I'm being tortured at a POW camp. "They didn't... even... ask me... any questions...."
54. One of my favorite activities is mini-golf.
55. One of my favorite places in the world is Ocean City, Maryland.
56. I'm from Denver, and I'm always representing.
57. I like humidity because I associate it with being on vacation.
58. Nothing makes me feel more free than a big sky and an open road.
59. I am a INTJ on the Myers Briggs personality test.
60. My least favorite chore is taking out the trash.
61. My favorite ninja turtle has always been Donatello. I guess that makes me a science nerd, eh Di-di?
62. I was the 2004-2005 Pomona College DDR Champion, for title for which I received a $25 gift certificate to the local record store.
63. I don't like fruit pies, cinnamon rolls, pastries, tarts, or almost any other dessert that doesn't have chocolate in it.
64. I love cinnamon toast. I will probably make some today. That counts as a breakfast and not a dessert.
65. One time a guy cheated on me with another girl but he hadn't actually bothered to tell me that we were going out, so I wasn't particularly upset. The girl and I laughed about it quite heartily later on.
66. I wish I could be a famous writer. Then I would hang around with my famous writer sisters and we could have writing retreats in the mountains.
67. I am always comparing myself to catalog and internet t-shirt models, because of all models they seem the closest to ordinary people.
68. It never occurred to me that black people were any different than white people until my various schools drilled into my head that they were different and that I was automatically a racist just because I was white. I used to just think that they were really tan.
69. Getting to this number just sent me off on a 15-minute internet search about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
70. I am the designated cake-baker at the office.
71. Whenever I imagine my future husband, he has short brown hair, is wearing sunglasses, smiling, and sitting at a table on a veranda with his back to the sea. I can't really tell what his face looks like except that he has a strong jaw.
72. Whenever I am moving apartments I open the window and play Andante Sostenuto From The Violin Sonata In C Major, by Mozart while I am packing boxes.
73. I am not easily irritated. Except by computer mice that have slow tracking. That makes me want to throw something through a window in a violent rage.
74. When I'm driving, I see everything as an impersonal "hazard" that I must avoid. I think of this as the "video game" mentality of driving. This mentality greatly reduces road rage because you can't get mad about a computer-generated car cutting you off, it is merely another challenge of the game.
75. When I went to camp for the first time, my parents gave me a pocket knife even though they didn't want to because they said I would cut myself. I fancied myself a whittler and I tried to whittle faces into old sticks whenever I had free time. I eventually cut myself pretty badly with the knife, but I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want my parents to find out that they were right and end my burgeoning career as a whittler.
76. In seventh grade I wore a Bob Dole hat to school on hat day and my teacher told me I had to take it off. I protested that it was hat day, so she told me that I could keep it on as long as I wore it backwards so she didn't have to see it. This was the first, but not the last instance of The Institution trying to curtail my freedom of speech.
77. I really want to go to the Lop Nor in China to see the yardangs.
78. One of the reasons I don't want to be a professor is because all of my professors ignore their grad students and make their lives miserable, and I don't want to follow in their footsteps.
79. I love the sound of the wind through the leaves.
80. I like people who always accept things that I offer them, like rides or food.
81. I believe every person can understand every concept, the difference is only in how many times they would have to have it explained to them and how long it would take for them to grasp it. Thus most knowledge comes through persistence, not intelligence.
82. I think the greatest happiness comes from a feeling of usefulness and independence.
83. One of my favorite German words is "Wagonstandanzeiger", which means "Sign that indicates where the train car is located".
84. I am a Christian.
85. One of my proudest moments was when my paper about Mercury was featured in the Nature "Research Highlights" section.
86. In seventh grade I had to give an impromptu speech about dogs. I pretended like I worked for an animal rights organization that was against ear-cropping and I begged the people in my class to the point of tears to stop cropping their dogs' ears. I have no idea what the people in my class thought of me.
87. I tend to be friends with a lot of "un-cool" people, which seems to make my "cool" friends uncomfortable.
88. One of the worst speeches I have ever given was also in 7th grade, when I gave a speech about Angkor Wat. We were supposed to only memorize talking points and not whole sentences, but I ended up getting really nervous and repeating myself a lot. I was really mad at myself because I was very passionate about Angkor Wat and I didn't want my poor performance to bias my classmates' opinions about it.
89. I used to pronounce cerulean "soo-ler-an", and when I later heard people talking about "cer-eel-ian" I thought it was a similar but slightly different color.
90. Whenever I think about how my older sister has inspired me, I think about her reading "Lafcadio: The Lion who Shot Back".
91. For someone who loves the wind as an object of study, I rather dislike it as a meteorological phenomenon.
92. I love people and think that they are inherently good.
93. Everytime I put on sunglasses I sing that line from Jack Mannequin's "Holiday from Real": "Put my glasses on so no one sees me."
94. Right before I go abroad, I always imagine myself getting kidnapped by guerillas and held in a prison for many years. When I finally return to civilization I have a 1000-yard stare and I hardly ever speak to anyone. People whisper about me behind closed doors and wonder what it was that happened to me out there in that jungle, but they never ask and I never tell them.
95. I go out of my way to avoid shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's because I think they are pretentious.
96. When I was in elementary school I saw a Young Indiana Jones TV episode where some archaeologists broke into the tomb of a mummy despite the curse that was written over the door. They left a random Egyptian man to guard the tomb overnight and when they returned his entire body was burned so that the only thing that was left was melted flesh. For about ten years after that, I could not close my eyes to sleep without seeing the image of that burnt corpse on the insides of my eyelids.
97. I did not see the Man in the Moon until I was in college. I'd seen "Moulin Rouge" and the man in the moon was singing a song and I thought to myself, "IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE JUST HIS FACE????"
98. Someday I'd like to have a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Golden Retriever.
99. I've never had any desire to go ice-climbing, though everyone who knows me always says that they think I'd be the kind of person who would do that sort of thing.
100. I got stuck on this after #15.
I challenge ranor, Helena, elessar, and middaymoon
Friday. 8.6.10 11:13 am
Sunday. 8.1.10 8:04 am
I think I might have met a male version of myself.
Me: And when you walk down the street at night?
Him: I think of all the ways that I would fight a mugger if he attacked me.
Me: And when you get on an airplane?
Him: I identify the people I think I can count on in the event of a terrorist attack, or the people I think I'm capable of saving if the plane goes down.
Me: And when you're driving down the highway next to a semi truck?
Him: I think that with a single twitch of a muscle, I could send the car crashing into the semi....
We spent several hours on Friday night sitting beneath my umbrella tree and talking about the Universe.
Yesterday we went to the beach and built a massive sand castle with a death star on the top and talked about string theory.
Him: Oh no! This pile of rocks is so much better than the one over there! Why didn't we decide to come over here?
Me: We chose....
Lightning and Gamma Ray Bursts
Wednesday. 7.21.10 9:14 pm
Have you heard of gamma-ray bursts?
They're a mysterious phenomenon where a burst of extremely high energy photons (gamma rays) emerge from a point in space. Nobody knows why, but it is hypothesized that gamma ray bursts occur with the collapse of a high mass star into a black hole. Most occur in distant galaxies and last for several seconds.
In the 90s a telescope was chillin' out in space looking for gamma ray bursts when it detected one nearby. Where was the gamma ray burst coming from?
In the subsequent years it was discovered that terrestrial gamma ray flashes occur in the Earth's atmosphere associated with lightning storms, at a rate of about 50 per day. Lightning itself is still a relatively mysterious phenomenon, as it is difficult to see how the relatively low electric fields in thunderstorms give rise to a bolt of such incredible magnitude, and how this electrical channel propagates through air, which is generally a pretty bad conductor.
There was a hypothesis that showers of cosmic particles initiated lightning, since that would be a way to give it enough energy to begin, but it seemed as if lightning was much more common than these showers of cosmic particles, and that the cosmic particle showers alone were still insufficient to initiate lightning. The discovery of terrestrial gamma ray bursts has further complicated the issue, as thunder clouds are certainly not distant exploding stars, and making gamma rays requires a great deal of energy to be released (gamma rays are so high in frequency that their wavelenths are about the radius of an atom). Perhaps terrestrial gamma ray bursts could provide the energy needed for lightning, but then why does there appear to be many, many times as much lightning as there are bursts?
On the other hand, could whatever extremely high energy event that forms lightning also be powerful enough at times to create the gamma ray bursts?
Researchers have flown lightning planes through thunderstorms in order to study lightning, and storm chasers chase storms across Florida and Colorado (the two top-ranked states for lightning deaths) hoping their vehicles will get struck by lightning, or that the lightning will come close enough for their instruments to be analyzed. Researchers at the University of Florida, in cooperation with Florida Tech, have created an outdoor lightning lab, where instead of chasing lightning, they bring it to their instruments. There they have a rocket launcher which launches rockets into storm clouds. The rocket is attached to a coil of copper wire. As the rocket travels into the cloud, it attracts lightning. The lightning travels down the length of the copper wire, effectively vaporizing it into a glowing green gas as at it makes its way to the instuments.
By directing the lightning, the scientists can capture it with a high-frame rate camera, as well as photographing it with spectrometers and measuring the electrical and magnetic fields.
Lightning is an incredibly common phenomenon which is still not very well understood. It is perhaps ironic that we had to build a telescope to study events in distant galaxies in order to discover a fundamental clue to a process that was so close to home.
Moral: Lightning is wicked-cool.
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