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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.

The Profile

Age. 36
Gender. Female
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
School. Other
» More info.
The World

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
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
My hero(s)
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER

Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
The Schedule
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
Looking Backwards
Wild Swans
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 Geomorphology
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
Cube Route
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
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Armageddon's Children
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
Crucial Conversations
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Dandelion Wine
To Sir, With Love
London Calling
Watership Down
The Invisible
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Host
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Help
Zion Andrews
The Unit
Quantum Brain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
Memento Nora
The Name of the Wind
The Terror
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Libyan Sands
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Calculating 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 Martian
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre � la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Red Mars
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
A Gentleman in Russia
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism
Seneca: Letters from a Stoic
The Juanes Module

Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
One Month for Everything
Wednesday. 4.11.07 6:12 pm
Ok, so perhaps I've told you about this lovely fluid dynamics class of mine before. The one that seems so tantalizingly possible and yet is totally impossible? Yeah, that one.

This is the sad tale that I know as reality:

On the first day of class, I go to the classroom about 7 minutes early so that I know that I'll find the room, since it's in a different department. When I reach the room, there is a sign on it with the number of my course that draws my attention. Below the number it says, "Today this class will begin at 3:00pm instead of 2:00pm"

"Rats," I say to myself, "I have walked all the way over here in the freezing Rhode Island January just to walk all the way back to my department and then walk all the way back over here an hour later?"

But I do it, wasting an hour doing nothing in my lab until 3.

When I arrive at the class, it has already been underway for an hour!!! Oh no, what is going on?
"Oh," says the professor, "Did you two (me and the other geology guy who'd independently come early and seen the sign and returned an hour later) see that sign?" We did, we answer. "Ah," he continues, "my secretary put that up there, it wasn't supposed to be there so I took it down."

...apparently all the other people in the class had arrived late, when the sign had already been taken down.

I quickly caught onto the material and the class went on, like a river flowing to the sea. Not a big deal. The first homework assignment? Piece of cake, all linear algebra. I begin to think I've got this covered.

Oh ho. No. No indeed.

The homework has no particular "due date"--- it's all due at the very end of the semester. I try the second homework assignment... can't really do it... I've got the concepts down, but I have no idea how to do the programming. What shall I do? I figure maybe we'll cover that eventually. Am I supposed to know this already? Was there a pre-req? As time passes, I begin to worry deeply. Deep worry-lines, in fact, appear on my face. The river looks less like a series of meanders on a flat flood plain and more like a braided stream with high gradient heading towards a waterfall. I doubt my very worth as a human being.

But lo! See what I discover the other week! Apparently, during this precious first hour of class, he'd told us all that we had to get a particular textbook. This textbook teaches us everything we need to know that he is not going to take time to teach us but which is absolutely essential in doing the work for the class.
I finally get my hands on the textbook, the manual to All Life. Wow, this class would have been 1000% easier and made 1000% more sense had I had this book all along. I read it like it is oxygen for several days. I do not recommend this kind of "panic reading"... it's hard to get the stuff to really stick. I start the homework... I have all the available tools now! I can do this!

But it's programming, and if you know anything about programming, you know that it is fraught with peril. The kind of peril that takes the uninitiated 10 hours to resolve and those with knowledge about three seconds. All I need is SOMEBODY who knows enough scientific function-oriented knowledge of C++ (and what I'm trying to do in numerical methods) to answer my basic level questions about it. Like someone else in the class, or a TA or something.


This is the email I get back from my professor just now after I write him my insanity-driven plea for aid:

"Hi -- I am traveling and will be back on Friday -- we can talk then.
J N, [email protected]___.edu, is the TA and he is very good in

That was probably something ELSE rather IMPORTANT that was likely discussed during the first hour of the course.

Thus I have about one month to do everything.

Comment! (5) | Recommend!

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!

Comment! (1) | Recommend!

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!

Comment! (3) | Recommend! (1)

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.

Comment! (9) | Recommend! (1)

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.

Comment! (6) | Recommend!

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

Comment! (1) | Recommend! (1)

the mouse! The MOUSE!
Thursday. 4.5.07 7:55 am

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!

Comment! (3) | Recommend! (1)

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!!

Comment! (5) | Recommend! (1)

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