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
I am a Fluid Element
Tuesday. 9.18.07 12:02 am
I sit in Fluid Mechanics.
We are learning about pressure. Pressure is a strange concept. It doesn't come from any specific direction. It comes from every direction at once, even if the force only comes from one direction, like gravity pressing layers of ocean down on you. You'd think that if you swam down under the ocean you'd feel the whole weight of the ocean on your head, but instead the weight of the overlying ocean presses in from all around you, because the fluid is trying to flow outwards and it is encountering your body and more fluid, which prevents its flowing.
The lecture is moving on, but I am still a fluid element, represented as a single point with out much loss in accuracy, surrounded by the deep, blue ocean. See the little fluid element... see how it feels pressure from all sides!
And as we learn next, when you are a fluid element, and you feel equal pressure from all sides, you are a statics problem. That's easier, you know. Statics problems are easier. But not quite as interesting, useful or rewarding as dynamics problems. In order to become a dynamics problem, you must feel a little bit of asymmetric pressure. A little gust of pressure has to sweep you out of your comfortable and easily calculated static state. After that, who knows what happens to you.
I mean, we could talk about what generally happens to the fluid, where the flow lines go, how roughly defined fluid boxes seem to interact... but you would need a supercomputer running for a week to see just a femtosecond into your future as a single particle. It doesn't matter to the student of fluid mechanics what becomes of the single particle. It only matters what generally takes place as the fluid flows by. There are strict boundaries on what area of flow he cares about. Fluid elements flow in and they flow out again on the other side. For this Observer, we are born when we flow in, and when we flow out we die. Once a fluid element leaves that imaginary dotted-lined box, he thinks not on it again.
But you can bet it probably matters to the single particle. It probably cares whether it is thrown into a vortex, whether it is funneled into a long, dark tunnel, whether it adheres to the wall of the container... whether it bears a brief and terrifying foray into dynamics before settling down (perhaps too soon?) into another boring statics problem.
I know pipes and guages and conduits are out there. Waterfalls and whirlpools and breaking waves and rain. They're all out there. But for now I'm floating at medium buoyancy several meters below the surface. I can see the aquamarine rays of the sun on my sickly white skin. I feel pressure from every side.
I remain a statics problem. As such, there is nothing for me to do but drown.
If Underwear Could Speak
Tuesday. 9.11.07 11:01 pm
She lay on the bed. Her right sock was hanging halfway off her foot. He seemed as worn out as she was.
"But none of you ever talked to me before" she finally said.
"That is very strange," said the undershirt slowly. "I've been considering that carefully. You see, I remember everything from our life before, back home, but it's like the memory is just worn into my fabric, rather than that I actually lived it."
"I feel the same!" chimed in the scarf. "It's like it only just occured to me in the marketplace that I could speak."
"I think all of you decided you could speak at the same time in the marketplace. Well, except for Left Sock." She blushed a little. "Well, and the underwear. Do underwear speak?" It seemed like such an absurd question for her mouth to form.
"Certainly NOT!" responded her jumper indignantly.
Her scarf giggled insanely and flung its loose end around her neck.
Once again, it was the undershirt who finally answered. "Underwear is alive, but they do not speak."
"But if underwear could speak," interjected the jumper in a dramatic voice, "oh what STORIES they would TELL!"
"Muteness is a fairly common trait in freshly woven cloth, especially certain kinds of cotton and silk, so they take care to make all of this fabric into underwear."
"SHEETS, on the other hand," supplied the jumper, "never shut up. They should have made sheets mute. I heard that the King here sleeps on furs. Furs are definitely dead. Well. They're dead now, anyway." It finished a little sheepishly.
It was fairly tragic, she thought, that mute cloth should be made into underwear. As if muteness wasn't enough tragedy for one life, they had to compound it with such a strange and humiliating station.
"It's not so bad for them," continued the undershirt, seeming to read her thoughts. "Underwear doesn't have to go through the wear and tear that the outside clothes have to go through. Most of them have a very timid demeanor anyway. Some of them aren't timid, though. They prefer to be worn on the head."
The jumper laughed in a hearty sing-song trill. "That's why some pairs always show no matter what you do!"
She lifted herself up on her elbows and looked down at her outfit. A few hours ago it had seemed so comfortable; now it made her feel very strange indeed. The movement made the scarf fall off her shoulder again. It gathered itself and swung back round her neck.
"What about the left sock?" she finally asked. "The left sock never speaks."
Her right sock pulled itself suddenly back onto her foot. "THAT is because she doesn't speak English." he said bluntly.
She was taken aback. She'd never considered the possibility that her sock didn't speak English, but she supposed that there was no good reason to think that a sock would necessarily speak English. "Doesn't speak English!" she exclaimed, "Why is that? I thought that you and she were the same sock!!"
"The same sock!" Right Sock answered very indignantly. "Right. The same sock? A pair?! You thought we were a pair? How can we be a pair! She's navy blue! I'm black!"
"Oh," she replied, looking down at her socks. "I was certain she was black. She looks black to me."
"'She looks black to me'" Right Sock mimicked mockingly. "She's definitely navy blue."
"No she isn't, she's definitely black."
"Go over there, look in the light."
She slid off the bed reluctantly and walked over to the window, where the sun was making its downward arc. The sock was clearly navy blue. She sighed and flopped back onto the bed.
"Fine," she conceded, "Navy blue."
"A pair. She thought we were a pair. She has no idea how to make a suitable outfit." Right Sock muttered to himself loudly.
Left Sock said nothing, though it sort of looked like she might be deep in thought.
When finally the sun set, she crawled beneath the covers. She was still wearing all of her same clothes -as she did not have any others- except her socks, which she had removed and placed several inches apart on the end table at the request of Right Sock, who didn't want to be too closely associated with his temporary mate. Her clothes seemed to be asleep by the way they hung loosely from her body and did not make any sound. Still, as she tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable in this strange bed, in this strange world, after this very strange day, she could not shake the feeling that every time she moved, the sheets were taking the opportunity to whisper amongst themselves.
The Department Picnic
Friday. 9.7.07 9:34 pm
We had been at the picnic for a little while, drinking Fanta, chatting with professors we hadn't seen for ages, wondering when we were going to get to eat already.
I looked up. There he was, one of my professors. The Geophysicist. Yes, I worship the ground he walks on. We have been working on a project together and I haven't been doing much for it since technically I'm supposed to be working on my actual research. I'm terrified that the time will come when he asks me for results. Maybe that he'll finally decide that I'm taking too long and he'll wrest away my project and give it to someone else. He came straight for me. What was he going to say? Was he going to say, "So... how are the analyses going? Did you finally figure out that code you were supposed to have done in May?" Terror! Fright! I am not worthy! I am not worthy!
"Hello," he said. "We're looking for a fourth to play horseshoes. Want to be on my team?"
I love playing horseshoes!
Thursday. 9.6.07 6:56 pm
As the new semester begins here in Providence Town, I must decide upon the particular scheme of self-betterment that I intend to follow for the semester. I have concluded that every semester must have a theme. Previously these attempts at self-betterment had to be a secret from almost everyone. That makes them more fun. But I have decided that these schemes, while remaining a secret from mostly everyone else, must be shared with the citizens of Nutang, because what indeed are the citizens of Nutang but cosmic, faceless readers of the secret inner lives of all?
The fall semester of 2006 was dedicated to improvement of Grace. You see, I found myself to be upon entering graduate school somewhat graceless, and to remedy this situation I secretly took ballet classes. I did not tell my advisor and I skipped the "mandatory" department colloquium almost every time it took place. None of the professors noticed, as it happened. Grace still needs a bit of work, and I may consider signing up for the same ballet classes again. But Grace is more than simply something physical, and in that sense it cannot be mastered, per se, instead it must become imbued in a person... and arise automatically, because every act of a graceful person is merely a manifestation of it. A goal, I think, that cannot be achieved in a semester, and which must necessarily be constantly a work in progress.
The spring semester of 2007 was dedicated to academic enrichment. This I meant in several ways: first, I took a ridiculous number of classes. The shining moment of this semester (academically) took place in its first week when I went to a high floor of the library and set about doing my Interpretation theory of geophysics homework. I had a helpful book which illuminated a sneaky trick that was needed to get through the derivation. It took about four or five hours, this problem set... just me, hunched in my private hutch, a desk lamp against the power-saving darkness. I walked out into the sunshine and concluded that very few people in the world would have any idea what I had been doing and even fewer would know why. It was brilliant. This goal expanded to include secretly taking Spanish classes four days a week at 8 in the morning... la vida secreta, of course. This led to hours upon hours spent on Sundays in the Rockefellar Library (a far away, foreign library), hiding from the other geologists so that they would not discover my secret life. The fact that I almost got caught about three times only heightened the sense of danger inherent in my secret academic life.
The summer of '07 I wished to develop more artistically: I wanted to spend more time writing- writing stories, poetry, vignettes, etc. I wanted to expand into different mediums, so I got involved in DeviantArt and began submitting some old photographs. This began during the academic semester, and it blossomed with spring, because spring happens to be a beautiful thing to take pictures of here in Prov Town. By the end of the semester I was taking and submitting new ones, too. I started passionately reading all manner of books from the public library. All of this was in an attempt to awaken some creativity in my mind, which had been generally slumbering or in lethargy since I was in seventh grade, the single notable exception being during Poetry of the Romantic Period, when I didnâ€™t pay attention and instead scrawled poems and drawings and notes to an unappreciative Auggie, who was trying to follow the discussion.
This semester, the fall semester of 2007, the Year of Our Triumph, is hereby dedicated to the enrichment of my musical life. Iâ€™ve begun practicing my flute again, after years and years, and I aim to master the quality of tone that I sorely lack, especially in the high register. Ah, to be my middle school flute idol, Julie Larson. We both had the solo for our respective classes, but her tone was so superior that when the day came I played so softly that only the voice of her flute could be heard, so its beauty would not be diluted. Plus Iâ€™ve picked up the guitar (again). Only this time Iâ€™m serious. I have a good book. I also have a bagpipe canter and a harmonica. Each of these instruments will get its chance to shine, much to the chagrin of the neighbors and the cats, I am sure. Iâ€™ve already re-fallen in love with the coda, especially when I must d.c. al said coda. MAESTRO!
Saturday. 9.1.07 7:56 pm
He was my enemy, but I'm sorry
Now, with all my heart, for the misfortune
Which holds him in its deadly grip. This touches
My state as well as his. Are we not
All living things, mere phantoms, shadows of nothing?
Going to Mars, anyone?
Friday. 8.31.07 6:52 pm
So a couple of people in my office are on the team to plan the human exploration of Mars. I was sitting in on the teleconference they had the other day and it was pretty interesting. Of course, some people think that planning some 30 years ahead for the human exploration of Mars is planning a little *too* far ahead, but for a project this large, I'm sure it can't hurt to start a little early.
The idea right now is to build a base on the Moon first. The eyes of the world have shifted back to the moon for several reasons, one, because Chinese and Indians are racing there, much like the USA and the USSR did back in the day, and two, because we've realized that a lot of the technology that we used to get us there in the first place has been lost or forgotten and we have precious little time to pump the guys in charge for that kind of information, because they were all old back then, and it's approximately 40 years later now. Thirdly, we see the moon as the obvious stepping stone on our way to Mars.
Each planetary body has its own challenges. Mars is very far away. That is its main challenge. Just to get there at current speeds it would take about 6 months. Then you'd likely stay on the surface for about a year. Then it would be 6 months back home. During that time in microgravity, your heart would start to weaken. It would weaken because it no longer has to pump your blood against gravity, and like any other muscle, it would start to atrophy and break down a bit with disuse. This wouldn't be a problem if you intended to stay in space forever, but if you ever came back down to the Earth your heart might be overwhelmed with strain and fail. The same goes for your bones. The more weight you carry around, the stronger your bones are, because they build up density proportional to your weight. Weightless, your bones would slowly lose their density until you would return to Earth extremely brittle and possibly unable to stand.
The only fix against this kind of deterioration is constant exercise. You would have to exercise on exercise machines for hours and hours and hours so that your body would stay fit. Forget sleeping through the whole thing... unless they could freeze or stop your normal body processes... you would turn to mush. I guess that's the whole idea behind the "cryo-freeze"-- somehow you stop your body from deteriorating while you're in space.
NASA has been figuring out what astronauts need to do to stay healthy on long space voyages by sending people up for extended stays on the International Space Station (ISS). Sending people up here for stints of 3-6 months has allowed NASA to develop a routine that would keep them in shape.
The other tough thing about the long trip to Mars would be just getting along with your crew mates for that long. NASA, in addition to having all kinds of physical, academic, and skill-oriented requirements for astronauts also has personality requirements. For each mission they choose among their qualified crew members a group that will get along-- i.e., they don't choose two dominant people to go on a mission, or a whole crew of passive or submissive personality types. They have to choose a leader, a mediator, and a "care-taker", in some cases.
Exploration of Mars is still a long way off, to be sure, but if everything goes as planned, you could see it happen in your lifetime. We're already deciding where we want to go and what the astronauts will do when they get there. If you have a suggestion about where you want to go or what information you would like to know about the Red Planet (or any other planet for that matter), I'll make sure somebody hears about it.
Friday. 8.31.07 12:08 am
Yep, that's right. I found a feature on Mars that looks like a MUSHROOM:
Pretty crazy, hehn? I know. Prett-y crazy.
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Tuesday. 8.28.07 11:21 pm
I went to San Francisco for the weekend.
For the soundtrack to this entry, you can listen to the song "The Sound of San Francisco" on the ProjectPlaylist player to the left (it's at the end). Here are some of the highlights of the trip:
You can invent your own captions.
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