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
Now THAT'S a thermometer
Thursday. 3.22.07 8:26 pm
I've been thinking about that thermometer from my dream from the previous entry. Or shall I say, the REAL thermometer that was right outside of my dream. I suppose you've had that sensation: You're in a dream, running for all you're worth, your legs are straining, your muscles moving you as fast as possible, possibly running away from something... and then all the sudden your real leg moves, just a little, and that tiny little movement in your real leg is so many orders of magnitude more real than everything in your dream, which had heretofore seemed pretty damn real.
That's how that thermometer felt to me the other morning. Yesterday? Seems like a long time ago already. I reached out and felt the thermometer in my hand, and that thermometer was a thousand times more real than whatever had been in my dream the moment before. (Crocodile Dundee: "That's not a knife. THIS is a knife!")
You know how it works when you remember a dream? It comes to you in strings of information that you suddenly remember. If you actually try to remember parts of the dream in detail (who was there, anyway? how exactly was I trying to read my temperature?) You'll probably find that the dream that seemed coherent and detailed and logical, actually isn't. As you tell it you realize that people go in and out of the dream, there are large plot gaps... sometimes you tell a part of the dream that you really know wasn't actually in the dream but you *remember*
(invent!) at that very moment. Who was that person? Well, I didn't know it at the time of dreaming, but now I can totally see that it must have been Aunt Marge!
On the other hand, when you look back into your real memory, focusing on the events can often make them clearer, because in real life they actually were clear. Who was there? You can see their faces, you recall things that people did that indicate that they were there. They are in your memory in a different place than the people who you "remember" being in your dream.
So of course this leads one to ask the eternal question: What would it feel like to wake up from life? Is that what dying is like? What if you were running for your life and you were suddenly killed WHAM. And your leg moved in Heaven. And woah. That tiny movement was a million times more real than your WHOLE LIFE just was. Would the flow of life here on Earth seem disconnected and chaotic compared to the flow of life in Heaven?
I was also thinking about this in terms of when people have a good experience and they look back on it, saying that it was "like a dream".
But what if you had a little short period of time in your life that seemed more immediate -visceral- where you purposefully (and at the same time helplessly) engaged all your senses, FELT, and in effect, lived a time that seemed more real than normal reality?
Are such experiences dulled by memory, and so relegated to the level of realness usually reserved for dreams, which are felt deeply as an idea within your mind but lack staying power among your five senses?
I don't think so... such times in your life are dominated by sensory memory! Image, sound, touch, taste, and the strongest of sensory memories: scent.
Thus I posit that some experiences that you say were like a dream are in fact the opposite! They are like real life, and the rest of your life... your whole life otherwise... is like a dream. Like televised sunshine.
Last night's Adventures
Wednesday. 3.21.07 8:25 am
Last night I moved into a new house. Unfortunately my new roommates turned out to be a bunch of ex-commune hippies, one of whom already had two small children who would be living with us. Somebody thought it was a good idea to throw out my Orbitron stix (just because I never learned how to do it properly and I've had them for 10 years... the outrage!) and my dvd/vcr player that I never even knew I had. Luckily I was rooting through the old trunk of a truck that was serving as our dumpster with my friend who thought that something important of hers was thrown out and I found all this stuff. My semester at sea photo album! My chinese calligraphy/painting set that I've never used but certainly intend to!
Unfortunately, as we were pulling these things out, we caused the truck to move. At first we weren't upset as it was moving slowly and we could keep pulling things out. But I was still pulling things out when I was having to run down the street along with the truck, until finally it outran me completely.... I realized that since we'd accidentally gotten the truck rolling on Waterman St., it goes steeper and steeper downhill there... and it's a one-way street going in the opposite direction. I watched in horror as one car after another dodged the out-of-control junk truck, and with surprisingly even more horror as these cars couldn't help but run over the trail of my junk I'd pulled from the truck. Ah! My semester at sea album! There were sticker letters and glitter everywhere! Oh no! My chinese calligraphy and painting set! All the paint-stones would be ground to pieces!
Finally the wheel of the truck turned and it disappeared around a corner onto a two-way street. I can only assume it crashed, I didn't check. Instead I gathered all of my things from the street and when back into the house in time for the house-warming party. The roommate who had the children was there and her mother was there, and they gave me a key to my room with a princess fob on the end... I got the idea that it was left over.
I went upstairs and my dad was standing on the deck, which was a nice deck as it were, with a barbeque on which food was being cooked. "Look!" He cried, "The Northern Lights!" and so they were... the northern lights, they were gorgeous, I'd never actually seen them before besides a wispy hue I once saw when I was camping in Northern Wisconsin. As we watched they flickered like an old color tv set and all kinds of strange colors were seen. Then the Northern Lights started getting USA (the TV station, something about how the Northern Lights are sensitive to electromagnetic signals, like an antenna, or your braces). With the number of times they mention "USA" on the station we chuckled to ourselves and wondered if the Canadians and the Russians were seeing the same thing and what indeed they thought of it. It was pretty amazing though, a TV station projected on nothing but darkening sky! I asked my dad who was at the party and he told me a list of names, including my mother's friend A.R. He warned me that she would probably try to tell that tired old story about meeting my aunt and how she talked soo fast it was like she was an auctioneer (which isn't true at all). My mom hates that story.
I went downstairs and and ran into another roommate of mine who was collecting blenders to make milkshakes. I really wanted a milkshake of my own, so I made an effort so that he wouldn't collect MY blender. We ran across my advisor, who saw us with so many blenders and thought we were mixing alcoholic drinks. It was just too much trouble to try and convince him otherwise. Some adults are that way, they are so convinced of your guilt, and yet so accepting of the crazy ways of youth, that to try and convince them of your innocence is not only impossible, but if you tried you would likely only disappoint them. I finally abandoned the blenders and went into the kitchen/bar in the basement where my mother was with her friend A.R., who was recalling the time when she met my aunt (which she never did) and saying, "Wasn't she the one who talked so fast? Which of your sisters was that?" My mother was saying that none of her sisters talked particularly fast. A.R. pressed the matter and my mother was heard to say that if it was any of them it would have had to have been J., and at the mention of the name A.R. brightened 10-fold and exclaimed, "Yes! yes! that must have been the one! Just like an auctioneer!"
Really the only reason that the name sounded familiar was because it was the sacrificial aunt we laid up every time we saw A.R. for the sake of getting the story to finish. My mother's face was like a thundercloud.
Around this time I began to wonder if I still had my fever. I took my temperature and it was around 140 degrees. Hm... 140? Surely I was reading it wrong, and it was actually 104? Then a kind of Buddha-like knowledge came upon me.
It would help if when I took my temperature I used a thermometer.
A real thermometer.
And it would help if I were actually awake when I did it.
Aha! Actually being awake! There was the key!
So I woke up. Temperature 98.5 degrees. Headache. I skipped La Vida Secreta for the 7th time in the last two weeks.
Star Wars at its best
Tuesday. 3.20.07 7:47 pm
Monday. 3.19.07 7:53 pm
So it's almost 8. I'm at work. Outside is a blizzard. I stopped by to pick up some work I have to do for LVS and CFD on the way home from the grocery store. ughhh CFD why did I have to miss you two weeks in a row? Stupid conference in Houston, putting me so far behind. Gotta get home before my fever kicks in again. Hopefully it won't, seeing as I slept for like 18 hours in a row today and I've been feeling a mite better.
Sunday. 3.18.07 9:55 am
So seriously, there is a ghost in my house.
The creepiest thing EVER happened to me last night. The combination of the late hour, my active imagination, and the mild fever I had last night make me almost want to write the experience off as a dream, but I cannot.
I woke up at 6 in the morning (5 according to my clock which has not yet sprung forward), which I do not often do, and I had to go to the restroom, which hardly ever happens. It is a skill of mine that I've been working on since I was a baby to always sleep soundly through the night.
I slipped on my slippers over my feverish feet and crept into the dark hall. I could hear the sound of a rushing faucet coming from the kitchen. I knew my roommate, Chris, often woke up during the night and went into the kitchen to eat food or use the restroom, and likely as not he would not have turned on the light for fear of waking me, so I figured his presence must account for the rushing water in the kitchen. I made my quiet steps louder so that I wouldn't startle him in the darkness.
The kitchen was empty; empty but for the sound of the kitchen sink, which was pouring gallons and gallons of water down the drain in the night. A mild annoyance akin to the one which had swept over me earlier in the evening, when I finally took it upon myself to replace the batteries in the fire alarm on the second floor (even though it isn't my floor and I JUST replaced the ones on the third floor) swept over me now. Those second floor fools would have let that damn thing chirp intermittantly until the house burned down. Anyway, I supposed that somebody had left the water running and forgotten about it. I hoped that they had woken up and done this, because if they did it before they fell asleep that's something like 5 or 6 hours of water down the drain. I reached over and shut off the water.
That task finished, I went into the bathroom, turning on the dim light as the one yellow warmth in the now-silent kitchen. I sat there for a while, the fever burning through me against the cold porcelain. I had just finished washing my hands at the sink when I once again heard the sound of running water, only now much closer at hand. I turned around and the shower, which was right behind me, had begun to spill trickles of water down the face of the shower head. As I watched, the trickle became a flow and the flow became a roar and suddenly the shower was on full power. Without even thinking I reached past the flow to the opposite side of the shower and turned it off. I only had to turn it the slight amount that sometimes I had to when Chris has left it dripping. The handle was not turned so much that the shower should have been on full power. Still, even though I only turned off the hot side (how did I know it would be the hot side?) the shower immediately lapsed into silence, with several drips of protestation. I retreated immediately to my room and closed the door. I got under my steaming covers and thought for a long time about how I wanted a drink of water from the urn in my room. But I also thought about how I didn't want to get out from under my covers. I also thought about the sound of running water over my shoulder, and how I hadn't believed in ghosts in a really long time.
It was a long time before sleep could put my troubled mind once more to rest.
::update:: I told my roommate the tale of the running water, and he said the times have not been few when he's risen in the middle of the night and come into the hallway at the sound of someone taking a shower. He is confused because it is the middle of the night, and when he checks it out, there is no one in the shower at all, just the hot water on at full power and he turns it off- same thing as me, just a little turn shuts it off even though usually it take a large turn to turn it on full power. But he said that he's never seen the kitchen sink on and he didn't leave it on, and nobody but the two of us live on our floor.
Could this be the same ghost who frightened me so much last semester when my broken ceiling fan turned on suddenly above me at 11:30pm, raining bit of plaster on my head and wobbling madly, ready to fall out of the ceiling (which is why I never turned it on). That time I reached up quickly and turned it off. I since asked my landlord to fix it, and he has since sent a man to do the job, who took out the on/off cord to the fan and that's it. So now I can't turn it on.... or off, should it turn on by itself.
All this in a newly remodeled home... but in a house that's over a 100 years old.......
Wasn't I talking about moving earlier? ::end of update::
A little whitesnake
Saturday. 3.17.07 4:41 pm
HERE I GO AGAIN ON MY OWN
GOING DOWN THE ONLY ROAD I'VE EVER KNOWN
LIKE A DRIFTER I WAS BORN TO WALK ALOoOOooNE
I'm immune to mono! YAY!
Wednesday. 3.14.07 3:12 pm
So I went to the doctor and they ran a bunch of tests and they finally got back to me and they determined that I've had mono before. That means that that sickness I had first semester senior year (fall 2005) was definitely mono. I went back and found the entry:
"Oh, I am so sick. Such a sicky.
The stupid doctor's office won't take me til tomorrow morning. I don't know if I can wait that long. I'll probably have Scarlet Fever by then. Stupid doctor. Nobody wants to be around me because nobody can afford to be sick. I bet I caught it from that dumb girl in dance class that I had to dance with. Who comes to dance class when you are sick, right? That's just not considerate. Well, I probably had whatever I had before that.
I'm supposed to write the beginning of my thesis and observe all night tonight. I don't think that's going to happen. My prof was like, "don't observe" and that's great, sure, happy, but that means I have to observe all night on Saturday. :( "
haha. Funny how you can look back like that. It would have been REALLY nice if they had told me that I had mono back then. Then I could have told my professor that I couldn't observe at the observatory because I had MONO not because "I feel really sick and tired" which just doesn't sound like a good excuse. Mono is like an awesome Get-Out-of-Work-Free-w/o-guilt card. Nothing else about it is awesome, of course, except for its ability to cause pain, if you use the word "awesome" in the sense of "awe inspiring". Having mono while you are writing your thesis, observing all night for your final astronomy project, doing your analysis homework, fitting carbon II* curves, learning how to use linux, TAing intro physics, going out in the desert for a mapping project every single weekend, and applying to grad school is definitely the opposite of awesome in every way. Maybe it was good that I didn't know; I would have thrown a very large and unhelpful pity party for myself if I did. Looking back, that semester sucked pretty heinously. In addition to having mono, I barely finished my observational astronomy project, almost destroyed a multi-million dollar telescope, floundered in Analysis, broke down crying in front of one of my professors, fell behind on my thesis, almost fell off a cliff, was almost bitten by a rattle snake, had to deal with some awkwardness having to do with roller-blading people..., my fish died, my dog was going crazy (turned out to be a cancerous tumor that later killed her)... yeah. That semester sucked. At the time it didn't seem so bad because I had a new Juanes CD. And luckily there were a lot of "almosts" in there that had they not been almosts would have made the semester quite a bit worse.
The other good news is that I don't have mono right now. haha. yay!
An entry about my actual day
Wednesday. 3.14.07 12:07 am
Today turned out to be a pretty good day for me. I went down just on time to leave for the conference, Lillian had picked up a blueberry muffin for me before they ran out so that I wouldn't starve and fall asleep during morning session (and it worked!--- plus morning session was actually interesting...) It was about the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter, which is our sort of newest Mars orbiter. It has a really amazing camera which gets down to like 30 centimeter resolution. That means that if you were to lie out like you were making a snow angel on the surface of Mars, we'd be able to see you in our images (from ORBIT!). We've been targeting it at different places and finding little pieces of spacecraft all over the place (the Voyager landers, Mars Pathfinder, the two MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity, all of their heat shields and air balloons). We still can't find the lost European rover the Beagle, poor dear, but the Europeans insist that we aren't looking in the right place.
Then I got an email! yay! For lunch we ate mexican for the third time in three days, then we went to the afternoon session. Here my advisor was going to present some pretty gutsy interpretations and we didn't know how the community was going to react. He finished his talk and he always talks for too long so there wasn't any time for questions but there were tons of people lined up to ask questions because everyone was really riled up about the talk. My friend Joe had the talk immediately after, and his was short enough so that people could ask questions, so people addressed one question to him and then this really respected Caltech modeler got up to the mic and we didn't know what he'd say, and he said he had not really a question but a comment, and we waited in suspense and then he said that he was absolutely so impressed with Joe's talk and my advisor's talk and that the results were stunning and our interpretations were great and that he'd been looking high and low for a good Earth analog for these features on Mars and he'd asked everyone he knew and that these were the most amazing and persuasive analogs he'd seen and that we should be proud. And we were accordingly very proud.
Then I got another email! :D
After that we were riding high on a cushion of beaming praise and some of us went and ate ice cream for dinner and I had double dark chocolate with crushed oreos and then we went back for the poster session. At first I wandered around, meeting some people and looking for a spot out of the way where I could read my book, but then I got distracted talking to this charming old British modeler guy whom I'm hoping to collaborate with on some Mars volcanism stuff. We talked about jet engines and various kinds of turbulently convecting plumes. I'd sent him some comments and questions about the draft of his paper and he'd corrected his paper to include some of my suggestions (MY suggestions! someone cares what I suggest!!?). He said that at one of my questions he'd been puzzled because he could have sworn that the answer to my question was already in the paper. Turns out he'd done the whole calculation and written it out, but he'd put it in a folder in December and forgotten to type it into the paper at the last minute! I guess not even the reviewers had mentioned that, eh? So he put it in and he and my advisor acknowledged me at the end for my "valuable input" or something (I haven't read exactly what they said yet, my advisor just told me that they'd put it in).
Then I went around, talking to people, feeling smug because I was part of "my advisor's group" who knew all about the crazy martian features when everyone else was just trying to collect themselves off the floor after the implications of my advisor's talk had been realized. Sometimes I purposefully turned my nametag around so that they would tell me how they were sure the problem hadn't been solved and that my advisor couldn't possibly have the answer, without knowing that secretly I was like, "but ohO! What if he does?! What if I have been talking about this for weeks?!!"
I also ran into my planetary hero: B. Lucchitta, who is this amazing Italian woman who discovered every single thing like 20 years before everyone else did. I mean, everything. She mapped Ganymede, she talked about wrinkle ridges on the moon, she invented lineated valley fill on Mars from extremely coarse resolution viking data... she's amazing. I agree whole-heartedly with pretty much everything she ever wrote. Whenever I think to myself, "Man, this person really knows what they're talking about" then it always turns out to be her. And I met her!! Yay! I told her that I admired her work and how I kept reading these papers that people did in the 80s saying exactly what she did in the 60s only acting like they figured it out first. She told me that that was exactly what happened, and the fact that I knew that meant that I was a good researcher and that it meant that I actually read books and went to libraries instead of trying to find everything online. She said recently she'd reviewed a paper and told the person a bunch of references and they had the audacity to write back and ask her to send them all the reference-links online. She was like, "GO TO THE LIBRARY!!!! AGHHHH!!!" Wow. So cool. She's a real person!!
Then I talked to Debra and Sylvan for a really really long time, especially Debra because she's thinking about coming here and working with my advisor. My advisor kept drifting over to hear what we were saying and then putting his hands up and saying, "Oh! don't mind me I won't interrupt, I don't want to stop your conversation!" and then he would drrrift away. He wants Debra to come and work for him. She's scared to hell of him of course, as anyone would be, seeing as he's rather famous and also a little famous for being a character. She said that he seemed so nice and down to Earth and didn't seem at all like people made him out to be. I remember when he made me nervous. I wonder if people like that are aware at how nervous they can make prospective students. I also got to see my old undergrad advisor who was a former student of my current advisor, and the current advisor of Debra.
Then I came home and I'd gotten another email!! :D
Tomorrow we're getting doughnuts for breakfast and getting there early so we can get good seats for the Mars Exploration Rover talks which start at 8:30. Can't wait to see what kind of interesting data those crazy martian rovers have collected! I think they might have another session on Saturn's moon, Titan, too. Titan is pretty amazing because it is the only planet besides Earth (and maybe Mars in the distant past) that has active fluvial processes. It appears that Titan has a whole mess of lakes that are full of liquid... and rivers, and seas, and clouds and rain... but the liquid would be methane-nitrogen instead of water!! All the rocks on Titan are made from water ice and hydrocarbons (which could run your car for a month!) instead of silicates like all the rocks on the Earth!!!
Anyway, all together a pretty amazing day. I only almost fell asleep in lecture once, and I saved myself by leaving the room and checking my email. :D
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