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 Altadena, CA
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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 Statistics of Breast Cancer
Tuesday. 4.10.07 9:17 pm
Today we learned something interesting in class!
We learned about Bayesian statistics and why they're important to the way you read the news, or live your life. This is how it goes: say you're a woman in your 40s and your doctor says to you, "In order to save yourself from breast cancer, you should have a mammogram every year." You know, knowing things as you do, that a mammogram isn't the most unobtrusive or benign tests there are to be taken. For one, you're exposed to radiation, which can cause cancer. It takes time out of the work day, it is uncomfortable, and it is costly. If your test is a false positive, the consequences of taking such a test can become even more serious. Some people upon hearing that they have a dangerous cancer can become depressed, angry, or suicidal. It is a shock wave into their lives... the couple of weeks that it takes to prove that it was a false alarm can be agony, and they have to suffer for no good reason. Sometimes they have to take biopsies to further test for cancer, which can be invasive and sometimes disfiguring.
But come ON! What are the chances of a false positive, especially when the test is 95% accurate!
Actually, no. It is not 95% accurate. If you have cancer, the test will come back positive 95% of the time. That means that 5% of the time, you will get a false negative. This is the worst result because the patient who has cancer might not know about it until her next mammogram, a year or two away. 2% of the time you get a false positive. So 98% of the time, if you don't have cancer, the test comes back negative. But let's turn that statistic on its head. Let's say that you get a positive test result. How likely is it that you really have cancer? Actually it turns out to be about 4.5%!! Whaaaaa, you say, but the test is right 98% of the time, how can your positive test result have 95.5% chance of being false???
Well think about it... let's say we have a hundred thousand women who are between the ages of 40 and 50. In this age range, the chance that you have cancer is about .001%. Thus 100 of these women have cancer and 99900 of them don't. Of the 100 women who do, 95 of them will test positive. Of the 99900 who don't, 2% will test positive. That's still 1998 people!! That means 1998 + 95 = 2093 people will test positive all together. So if 95 out of those 2093 people have cancer, that means that if you test positive, you have a 95/2093 chance of having cancer... which is 4.5%.
Of course, when you get between 50 and 60, the chance that you have cancer is more than .001%, so much so that if you test positive, you have about a 30% chance of actually having cancer. So the discussion goes, "Should we test women between the ages of 40 and 50 as often as we do, knowing that more 99.9% are going to test negative, and knowing that out of those who test positive, 95.5% of those are going to be false positives, causing grievous emotional harm and stress not only to the woman herself but for her entire family?
My opinion of the matter is yes, we should still test them, because despite all of these statistics, you'll either have cancer or you won't. If you have cancer, your chance of having cancer is 1. BUT, your chance of beating said cancer can be much higher if they catch it early. So I think the "emotional trauma" done to the 1998 women who get false positives is worth possibly saving the lives of the 95 who actually have cancer. Wouldn't even the 1998 false positives still say that, even after going through their ordeals? If you asked 19 women to go through three weeks of emotional hell in order to increase the chances of saving the life of one woman whom they don't know, would they agree to do it?
In order to do this mathematically, you'd have to see the statistics on how many people actually fall into depressions or commit suicide after hearing such a diagnosis, how many biopsies are botched, how much radiation one gets from each mammogram, etc., and see how that balances against risking not catching the breast cancer right away in the 95 women out of 100,000 who will have it and be diagnosed correctly. Then you could decide if you could minimize potential harm by having the mammograms a bit less often through your 40s.
Anyway, Bayesian statistics are really important to think about if you're reading the newspaper and they talk about the reliability of a test or something like it, because it isn't always the reliability of the test that's important (if you have cancer, how good are they at catching it?) but also the probability that another condition is true (how probable is it that you actually have cancer?) As you can see, figuring that in can really change your answer!
So I guess the moral of the story is to know that if you are diagnosed with cancer when you are young you really shouldn't freak out, because there's a large chance that it was just a mistake!
Tuesday. 4.10.07 7:30 pm
So, uh, 1. I quit La Vida Secreta. yeah. Hopefully our fearless leader won't flip. ::update:: just got an email from her, she didn't flip. phew.:::: So much for my attempt at a secret life. Next time I'm going to get a secret life that takes place late at night instead of one that takes place at 8 in the freakin' morning. And hopefully I'll choose one that requires a lot less work. And hopefully one that involves more spying, climbing on rocks, and making out with boys. And music. Since first semester my secret life improved my physical health, and this semester my secret life was academic in nature, I'm thinking for my next semester it shall be a music-related secret life. (Guitar, anyone?)
2. I also wrote my fluid dynamics prof to tell him that I was "panicking" and I needed some serious help with... everything. We'll see how he responds to that.
Meanwhile, I'm almost finished with my hydrology final project and after today I have one *short* problem set between me and being done with problems sets (except for in fluid dynamics, of course). I'm ahead of most people on my Inverse Theory project, and I think I did pretty well on my IT problem set for today (well, now that I think on it, right now I have 100% in that class and I'm about to ruin it with this problem set, but we can say that I did 'as well as can be expected' or perhaps, 'as well as anyone in the class with whom I can be fairly compared') We have the one and only exam of the class in there on Thursday. This is also the day that my fluid dynamics professor has office hours, and the day that my old roomie K is coming to visit me and stay at my house for the weekend. And the day before my last problem set is due. And the day that I'm supposed to finish up the little bit we have remaining on the hydrology project. And I'll have a meeting with my advisor where I'll tell him that I once again haven't done a single thing to further my research project. I might scribble random equations and variables on a printed sheet of unintelligible computer code to make sure it is sufficiently impossible for him to discover me.
Anyway, hopefully these two changes I have made in my life will make me feel less like I have an ulcer. Perhaps I can even try and stop chewing on my thumb knuckle, which has developed a callus. Maybe I can stop stalking through the office, my sunken, defective eyes screwed up to bring into focus, but not really see, the people in the hallway. Maybe I can stop constantly making lists. Maybe I can stop twitching. Though, if I were like Master Kahn, my erstwhile tae kwon do master, I would advise myself to channel my tension into keeping my abs constantly flexed, which he would tell me will give me a six-pack in no time. That sounds like an avenue for self improvement. FORWARD!
The DDR Underground
Monday. 4.9.07 9:07 pm
Today I went down to the neighorhood den of DDR, the campus center arcade. It is pretty much used for nothing but DDR, and you can get a game for about 50 cents or less. I was just getting ready to play when I was joined by a guy who looked like he wanted to join. I asked him to play with me and WOW. He was the best DDR player I have ever met. He has a strange technique where he holds on to the bar behind him and thus mostly takes his weight off the pad, which allows him to complete rapid combinations without worrying about weight transfer, which is one of the most difficult parts of the game. Some people may say that this technique is tantamount to cheating, but he is so good at it he still ranks as the best DDR player I have ever seen in all my life.
So we played and I played on Standard and he played on Heavy, and he consistently scored double AAs while I scored anything from A to E. This meant that we got an extra game every time. It was a bizarre experience, since usually I am the one rocking the complicated moves while the person next to me is on beginner. I felt like I was standing still doing some of the most complicated standard routines. Just the sound of his footfalls was music in itself, like irish step-dancing.
He was half Japanese, of course, and he studied physics... with his mom... since she was a professor at Brown and he was a senior in high school who had just been accepted to Brown for next year. They just get younger and younger, don't they? Due to an unfortunate spirit of creativity in his parents, his name was Kyle, only with an extra 'e' making it "Kylee" (KILE-ey). Thus he is doomed to have to repeat his name several times everytime anyone asks for it. Kylee passed the hardest song in DDR on extra challege mode, with reverse arrow direction (the arrows come from the top and go towards the bottom).
Noah and Joe from the office happened by and they watched him do this while I tried to get as many of the arrows as I could on my side (I decided to concentrate on just the two outside arrows... still impossible). I think they left satisfied because they felt like they'd discovered something secret about me: that I played DDR with random high school students in the basement of the student center after work. Well, they did, really... perhaps that makes Joe and I even since I walked in on him when he was playing D&D with the nerdiest group of people I've ever seen a couple months ago. Now we discuss his campaign ideas together, since he's almost always the DM. It keeps a little bit of the little sis' close to my heart when we talk about such things.
After a while Kylee left, he was exhausted (who wouldn't be?) and I played my last tokens out. Suddenly I heard a voice behind me. "I think that one was too easy for you," she said. Adamantine, as I later discovered. Good geology name. "The one before that was too easy, too." I explained that it has been forever since I'd played so I was taking it slow. Another girl was there, too. "Play a harder one. You should play with us, then you could play harder ones." The "you never get to be a better skier unless you ski with better skiers" axiom. Their friends showed up, two guys, one probably full asian, Dan. I finally took my leave of them after watching them play. They are also leagues better than I. They aren't as good as Kylee, but they don't use the rail, either.
Thus I must mark today. The day I found the Brown University DDR underground.
Please come to Boston for the Springtime
Friday. 4.6.07 6:23 pm
I'm GOIN' TO BOSTON to hang out with my old suitemates K, K and J. Seeeee you suckas on the flip-side.
Murder from the Shelf
Friday. 4.6.07 12:10 am
No foreign war or can feign refine
The blank dispassion I had as mine
As to the local store I took myself
To purchase murder from off the shelf
My face a dull and hardened mask
I set upon my given task
It was not a question of morality
Just another lesson in mortality
Hands so steady, mind so clear
Lacking disgust, lacking fear
Of petty conscience, there was no sign
Where soft lips would be, a thin straight line
If could but lure my victim here
By promising there was naught to fear
There would be no passion in this crime
Just a SNAP and then a breaking spine
Sickened by only the thought 'he runs free'
Knowing time will bring my victim to me
Such wretched item, loatheful louse
Contained within escap-ed MOUSE!
So still she lies with waiting ear
For footsteps of her foe to hear
With naught but Death mirror'd in her eyes
For Chance to offer sweet reprise
the mouse! The MOUSE!
Thursday. 4.5.07 7:55 am
THE MOUSE IS IN MY ROOM... CHEWING ON MY FLOOR IN THE NIGHT.......
I've been keeping my door religiously shut since I found out about the mouse... and we haven't seen evidence of the mouse since I started doing that.... turns out I've been shutting the mouse IN.... a bit on a Phenomenon moment there... I'll have to update this later and tell you what happened last night but I'm late and I didn't sleep a wink!
What success looks like
Tuesday. 4.3.07 9:52 pm
This may be very meaningful to some of you.
I know it is for me.
It represents my first steps into the vast world of C++. Which I must learn in the next 15 days, or die trying.
And you have NO IDEA how long it took me to get only this far. gd compilers!!
Auggie my love
Tuesday. 4.3.07 7:44 am
My friend wrote me an email... I enjoyed it so much I had to reproduce it in whole here. I swear, some of these letters I get from Auggie make me think of the letters I read in Romantic Poetry between all of the poets and their brothers and friends. I imagine people calling my house in future years requesting her letters to bind into a book about her, because people won't be content with just her published work.
As the French have realized that old chateaux, manor houses, and barns
are cold and draughty, with ceilings so high and doors so low that
their residents can never get them clean and suffer from escalating
brain damage, and walls that only crumble away into more dirt at the
slightest touch of a dust rag, the British have arrived in droves to
buy them up, generally turning them into BnBs and gites. This also
allows other British people to vacation in France without having to
interact with the French.
The resulting "holiday" networks warrant further study and a series of
obscurely weighted charts. Throughout the year, foolish British 11th
century building owners who would never normally associate, regularly
socialize, rejoicing in their ability to brew a proper cup of tea and
trim a climbing rose. Holiday goers frequent the same chateau summer
after summer, for two of three weeks at a go, and their children
remain loyal as they mature. As that dirty old man in The Quiet
American said, I am British and therefore I have habits.
Which brings me to the main subject of this report, which is my theory
that the British suffer from an overabundance of meals, such that
they've forgotten which ones are supposed to be the important ones and
intead select which ones to hang their days on according to personal
I meant to go on from here with a long report on tea time, breakfast,
coffee time, elevenses, lunch which may be called dinner and begun at
four in the afternoon, tea time, and dinner which may be called
supper, and wind down by bemoaning the result that the people I'm
staying with generally eat nothing after 2:30 lunch, filling the
evening instead with an extended cocktail hour (it generally being
acceptable to begin drinking once David has begun cooking lunch), but
I've been handed an overfull glass of red and shan't be writing much
So here's the quick report: I'm wwoofing at a chateau in Normandy
with a British couple, but will within a week be moving down to the
Pyrenees, where I shan't have internet or phone access, to chase goats
in the mountains. In May I'll be making sheep's milk cheese in a
French commune, but should be communicado once more.
For now, these people wish their names were Fletch and Muffy. I was
greatly relieved when it occurred to me my first week here that they
love to hate each other, and the French, and probably me. Perhaps, as
with our sheep, it is simply in their nature not to outwardly manifest
fondness for those humans to whom they are closest.
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