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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.
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.

Your adoring,

Comment! (2) | Recommend!

Of Mice and Roommates
Monday. 4.2.07 6:51 pm
Yesterday Chris and I tried to catch the flying mouse. At least, we tried to see if there was really a mouse by moving the refrigerator (where he believed it to be hiding) very quickly and see if anything ran out. I already knew there was a mouse, so I was just along for the ride.

We blocked off the entrance to the kitchen and the bathroom and I put a large paper sack on the floor, just in case, to see if we might catch it.

Chris: Do you think you are capable of killing the mouse?
Me: Yes.
Chris: You're such a Republican!

Chris: Are you going to jump up on the table like a little blond girl?
Me: Well, maybe. It better not try and run across my shoes, that's all I'm saying.

Chris: Don't you think mice are cute?
Me: No.

Chris: How on earth could the mouse jump up all those stairs?
Me: Have you ever seen how high a gerbil can jump?
Chris: Oh. Yeah.

Chris: If we catch it, do you think we should throw it out the window?
Me: No, of course not. If we go to the trouble of catching it alive, I'm going to take it down the stairs and put it outside.
Chris, nervously: You don't think we should just throw it out the window? I think it would be fine.
Me: It would break its little legs!
Chris: I think it would be fine.
Me: Let's just move the refrigerator.

So we moved it, and what should come out?!?! Nothing, of course. There were a million other nicer places for the mouse to hide. But we did find enough mouse droppings to convince Chris that it existed and that it was disgusting. Then I worked the broom and he worked the dustpan til the kitchen floor was clean again while we discussed the relative merits of cheetahs and tigers (since he'd lent me both Two Brothers and Duma one after the other).

Chris: You know that faggot? What was that faggot?
Me, aside: Already heard this one.
Chris: You know, the faggots, with the tigers?
Me: Sigfried and Roy
Chris: YEAH! Sigfried and Roy. And he got attacked by the tiger and it ripped off his face. That's the worst thing that can happen to a faggot, you know, when somebody rips off his face.
Me: ...
You may wonder that I did not speak up here against both his stereotyping and his diction. However, I know him well enough to know that had I said something about it, he would have launched into another story, much longer than the current one, about how he loves gays so much that one time he saved these two total fags from the certain death they were going to experience because they were being pushed around by big, thug-like mob irish guys from South Boston and he intervened, and so the thugs beat him and his friend up instead, while the fags ran away in a fag-like manner. That's the other reason that his hand towel has blood on it, you see, because they bashed his teeth against the concrete and he hasn't had the proper surgery to make them better again. So I changed the subject by pouring myself a bowl of Rice Krispies.

As I was washing the strawberries for the cereal, Chris came over and told me that I really couldn't wash them like that. I gave them to him and he put them in a bowl and then filled the bowl up with water and swished the strawberries around and poured out the water. "People really have no idea what terrible pesticides are on these strawberries," he said. "You could really get cancer. I'm really glad you're listening to me about this." He said that like a man whose girlfriend never took his advice on anything, which is exactly the case. He started filling up the bowl again, interjecting that some people only do it once but he always does it twice so that he's sure that he's got all the pesticides. "Really," he continued, "People have no idea. And I'm not some kind of wacko, either..." he paused, and then started laughing. "Well, I guess that's debatable" I started laughing too, and he said maybe that was something that could be decided at some other time, and we were laughing and straining the strawberries in our kitchen with the refrigerator in the middle of the room so the mouse couldn't climb up the back of it to get to the counter, and a row of rubbermaid containers and milk jugs and paper sacks walling us in, and it was a moment, you know.

One of those moments that make roommates closer.

Comment! (7) | Recommend!

The Ghost Does the Laundry
Monday. 4.2.07 2:35 pm
So just now I went down into my creepy, creepy, creepy basement, where I was changing my loads before going back to school for class. Everything down there was as I left it, which is why it's a good idea to do laundry on Mondays, because nobody else does.

Well, except for one thing. Somebody had evidentally been down there since the last time I was there because there was what seemed to be a small pile of white things sitting on the top of the dryer. Upon closer examination one could see that they were a little white towel and a set of white, blood-stained bedsheets. We're not talking a spot of blood here, and we're not talking about a just-used-to-carry-a-murder-victim amount of blood, we're just talking about a bit of blood here and there all over the linens, kind of like someone used the sheet to repeatedly blot his face after shaving (see: my roommate's hand towel). Why the unknown person would choose to place these things on top of the dryer instead of perhaps... the washer, or something, and why he or she had decided to leave them there instead of taking them back up, or emptying the dryer or washer and placing my things on top, no one can know.

But all I can guess is that the ghost in my house, with all her showering, has at last decided that the linens need cleaning too.

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Graduate School
Monday. 4.2.07 1:57 pm
We were eating lunch together in the upstairs classroom as the clouds of another cold Providence day settled around the second floor of the geology building. For the first time in a while it was just us and there were no prospective students to impress.
W had just made another of his depressing remarks when R, who is working on finishing her Phd in the next year and who has just accepted a 3-year post doctoral position in order to stay here in Providence suddenly said,

"Oh come on! Is no one happy here but me?"

A very awkward and extremely ominous silence followed.

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parts of a random song I wrote
Sunday. 4.1.07 6:53 pm
I tuck my alarm clock back to sleep
It's been up before me every day this week
And I'm sure there's nothing so tiring as keeping time.

I've just spent half an hour thinking of nothing at all
Sitting on an overturned Rubbermaid box
Somewhere between my shoes and socks
Returning the steadfast gaze of a nearby wall.

Oh it's a new day, nothing's standing in my way
Or at least I wouldn't see it because I can't find my glasses
Oh it's a new day, at last I'm finally on my way
I've forgotten something I'll remember as the day passes


It's a brand new day, I'm getting so much done
I'm as fast a bullet from a gun
I could take on the whole wide world
I can see my potential has been unfurled!
Oh... it's been an hour since I gave up coffee,
but I think I need just one more cup...

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Zanzibar's random trip to Cape Cod
Sunday. 4.1.07 8:46 am
So in addition to our having a ghost in the house (I came home so late one time this week that the ghost was already in the shower!), we also appear to have an infestation of flying mice.

They ate through all of my hamburger buns and my bagels. Which were on the counter.

On the third floor of a house that has no railings up which they could shimmy. They would have had to leap up three flights of stairs, and then leap from the floor to the counter in order to put their disgusting little gnawing teeth to my fluffy, soft white bagels and my nutritious brown, wheaty hambuger buns of which I'd only eaten three. Thus, flying mice. Or hopefully just 'mouse', in the singular. Still ew.

Chris: He'd better not eat into my protein powder! ...then he'd be SUPER MOUSE!

So for the past week I've been mulling over the possibility of me shrugging off my huge amount of work and going on a CRAZY ROADTRIP. This new problem which I didn't feel like dealing with sealed the decision. I was going to shake the dust off from this crummy little town and see the world! But unfortunately, I didn't have any bagels to serve as my lunch. :(

So OFF I went! My original plan upon leaving was to drive around New England and go to all the states I haven't been to yet (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). I didn't have a map, but really, why would you need a map if you have no real destination? So I ended up getting distracted and driving all the way to Cape Cod. all the way to Provincetown, no less, which is at the very tip of that arc of Massachusetts that curves out into the sea.

Oh, yeah. The first beach I went to was admittedly rather lame, but as I went further up the coast the beaches suddenly got out-of-this-world spectacular. When I showed up at the beach above, I descended from a flight of stairs down the sandy cliffs and there was the endless beach, completely empty but for me. Wow. The water wasn't even that cold, but since the air was quite brisk, getting my hand wet was a bad idea.
From that point on, the beaches only became more and more spectacular, with these massive sand dunes moving across the landscape and burying everything: fences, benches, parking spaces- even the forest!

Ah, the joys of sedimentology.

Then I traveled into a desert wasteland. And let me tell you, walking in sand is HARD. I think the lack of water and the hot desert sun isn't the thing that kills you, it's walking for miles and miles in the freakin' SAND. But it's pretty.

Water... water...

So it went really well and then I came back and ate some delicious hotdogs and beans, and half a pint of Ben and Jerry's Mint Cookie Ice Cream, which was SO GOOD, (especially since it was 8 and I hadn't eaten anything all day!) and watched the movie Duma about a boy and his pet cheetah, which was good, but not as good as Two Brothers. They didn't really address the hard-hitting issues like, "what do you feed a cheetah?" "When a cheetah is in an apartment, where does it relieve itself?" but it reminded me of South Africa! Yay, South Africa, I <3 you! South Africa is kind of like the American west only instead of buffalo there are wildebeest and instead of pronghorn there are springbok, and instead of elk there are kudu, and instead of mountain lions there are actual lions, and instead of Native Americans there are people who speak Bantu and !Xhosa. And, unlike the American West, all of the aforementioned haven't been killed off by the thousands already, so you are more likely to come across them.

Anyway, I'm off topic: hooray for Cape Cod!

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a conversation
Saturday. 3.31.07 12:10 am
Her: "His birthday's coming up... it's like the 2nd? Or the 3rd?"

Me: "The 4th."

Her: "Do you think I should send out an email or something and remind everyone? Because he's not on facebook...."

Me: "No."

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Russians, crashing into the moon
Friday. 3.30.07 7:37 pm
Yesterday we listened to a talk by The Russian wherein he talked about the Russian Space Agency and its past, present, and future.

The Russians have great ideas on how space exploration should be undertaken: they basically design a spacecraft, make at least two and sometimes five, and then shoot them out into space. If one fails, they immediately shoot off another. When one of the early Venera (Venus) missions lost contact with the Earth a few days out, they fired off the next Venera immediately... like the day afterwards if not the day of the radio failure. (You'd have to, really, if you wanted to take advantange of the same launch window). Of course around half of the missions crash or get lost... pass by the moon instead of going into orbit, crash into Venus instead of landing on it, get crushed by the atmosphere, etc., but it doesn't matter because there are 12 more and spare parts besides! And if the space craft accidentally missed the intended planet, it doesn't become a failed impact mission, it becomes a successful flyby mission. GREAT SOVIET SUCCESS!

The Russian was involved in picking sites for the planned Soviet manned mission to the moon in the late 60s. They were racing against the US, but the US had a leg up: we'd put a lunar orbiter up and taken all kinds of pictures of the moon (it was the old days... they had a camera with film that took the picture, the machine developed the film, then scanned it, then sent it back to the earth... all pre-digital!) The US could look at these pictures and choose our landing sites so that we wouldn't land on huge boulders or on the side of any chasms. To send a manned mission to the moon without knowing what the landing ellipse looked like seemed like suicide.

Then one day some men showed up, some "delegates". They gave the scientists a bunch of photos. All the photos of the moon that they could desire! ...All of the American photos of the moon they could desire. Nobody asked where they'd gotten them from.
Here The Russian interjected: "You know, there are Russian spies everywhere."
He paused, looking around.
"Even here."

The rapidness at which the this space race progressed was astounding. Due perhaps to a popular American science-fiction book at the time, many scientists from both countries feared that the moon would be covered with a layer of dust so thick that anything that landed on it would sink into the dust and be lost. The Russians successfully landed Luna 9 on the moon and sent back the first pictures from its surface in 1966, and NASA's similar craft the Surveyor 1 landed successfully later in the same year. Think about that: 1966, scientists think that the moon is made of thick dust that swallows spacecraft alive, and they have no good evidence to disprove it.
1969: Man lands on the moon. Three years later. In the meantime there were SIX successful Russian missions and SEVEN successful US missions sending landers and surveyors to the moon.

Man, space science just ain't the way it used to be.

In the end, the Russians didn't beat us to the moon. One of the most important scientists on the project, the brilliant guy in charge (a rocket propulsion guy named Korolyov) required minor surgery part of the way through the project. Instead of having some random doctor do it, since he was a VIP in the Party they had the Minister of Health himself do the surgery. Unfortunately the Minister of Health doesn't do a lot of surgeries on a day-to-day basis. During the surgery the scientist's heart stopped beating. Normally they would easily restart his heart with paddles, but the paddles were "not available" and the scientist died. The leadership over the rocket building was fought over by several rival companies, including one where Nikita Khrushchev's son worked.

The set-back made it impossible for the Russians to realistically get a manned mission to the moon before the US. In order to avoid embarrassment, the leadership publically decided to change their focus to robotic exploration of the moon and sample return. Four days before Apollo 11 launched, the Russians launched the first sample return mission, so they could beat the Americans back from the moon with moon rocks in tow. Unfortunately this mission crashed. Apollo 11 on the other hand was a fantastic success, and the rest is history.

Even so, the Russians can claim a lot of successes at the moon. They were the first to fly by the moon (in reality they meant to hit it and missed) They were the first to crash into the moon, they were the first to take pictures of the far side of the moon, the first to have a successful soft landing on the moon's surface, and they had the first rovers on the moon, a mission (Lunakhod) with which The Russian was very involved. And after Apollo 11 the Russians did return successfully to the moon many times, bringing back several hundred grams of sample from various places on the lunar surface. For comparison, the USA brought back several hundred KILOgrams of moon sample from Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17.

Ironically, soon after the space race ended, scientists from the two countries reached a little agreement where they would trade and share all of their moon rocks so that everyone could have a better understanding of the evolution of the whole moon. Nobody stopped them because going to the moon wasn't even about science in the first place, so what's the harm? They even later used extra parts from Apollo to launch some joint Soviet/American space ventures later on.
Those nutty scientists, always collaborating with others, not caring if they are filthy communists, what are we going to do with them?

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