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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. 33
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 à 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

want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
The Juanes Module

Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
Blood, syringes, and other Valentine-sy things
Monday. 1.22.07 6:06 pm
I've been thinking about Valentine's Day today. I know that I'm early, and Valentine's Day is still some number of days above 20 away, which is practically like a month, I'm still going to talk about it because it was today that it occurred to me that Valentine's Day was on the horizon.

So the thought of this glorious pink and purple and red day (just like the inside of your heart, right... but what about blue?) OH MAN... I just thought about how cool it would be if you did an experiment where you sealed your arm in an oxygen-less case and then you cut one of your veins... would you bleed BLUE BLOOD????? If I did this, and I bled blue blood, then I would definitely take an artistic picture and post it on deviantart.com, and then when people were like, "Hey, is that REAL??" I'd be like, "hell yes it is real." I'd just have to make sure to get the pressure in the case just right so that weird crap wouldn't happen to my poor arm. Maybe I could pay somebody else to be my model so I could get better photographs....

One girl had this picture where there was a syringe stuck through her tongue and blood squirting out all over her really pale lips and face, it was so gross. Turns out she normally has a tongue piercing, so she just took it out and stuck the needle through the hole and then had fake blood everywhere. wow. It's like one of the most popular deviantart images of all time. Actually, you can just see for yourself:

Well, I suppose I got off-track and I will have to talk about St. Valentine another day. Tchuss!

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Rocking and Rolling American Good Time
Saturday. 1.20.07 2:21 am
Tonight I went out to a rock show. Well, it was sort of a rock show- it took place in a blues club in Newport which used to be a bank, which just for this night was hosting some old rock bands, including House of Lords and "the Dropoutz" and some other band with the word "Tango" in it which according to my roommate "used to be HUGE" and are currently still popular in the larger Pakistan vicinity. This place was cool, they even have a private room where you can be seated in the vault of the former bank. It's very classy, not the kind of place you would expect to have a rock concert.

I was wheedled into going by my roommate, Chris. First he asked me, "Hey are you going out Friday night?"

I said, "Yes." because I was. I was to go ice skating downtown with Toku, the Japanese exchange student. My roommate had assumed that I was going to say no, so he was ready to launch his proposal before he suddenly realized that I'd said yes. "YOU DO???!" he asked, incredulous.

Hey, come on now, just because every other Friday for as long as you've known me I've either been at work or lazing around in the house, baking myself brownies and surfing on nutang doesn't mean that I don't have a life!!


So finally we decided that I'd bring Toku along the the rock concert and then we could go ice skating on Saturday. And we rocked out, oh yes. Toku had a fantastic time, as far as I could tell. The night screamed "cultural experience". And there were excellent nachos and quesadillas. We did have to talk our way past security though, because Toku's only form of ID was his Japanese ID which was, for some bizarre reason, in Japanese. He'd left his passport at the office. :C

The highlight of the evening for me was the seven minutes I spent in the women's restroom fishing Kathy's improvised earplug (made of a wad of toilet paper) out of where it was lodged deep in her ear canal- with a dart. Now that's what we call "trust".

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Friday. 1.19.07 7:54 am
So I had this dream and it was this chaotic, end-of-the-world type day, with a roiling purple sky filled with dark clouds. My party and I stumbled into a large fortress castle (like the old school kind, without any frills). We were in the courtyard and we saw these giant carved chinese dragons that were snaking over the corners of the outside wall, that was the only ornamentation in the whole fort. Except-- we hurried to the side wall where there was an alcove. The weather was getting worse and the wind was picking up. The storm was coming soon. In the little alcove was a bust of a woman carved out of stone. It was St. Catherine, and she had stone arrows in her neck and behind her sticking out of the alcove wall. I know that it's actually St. Sebastian who was martryed by arrows, but in the dream it was St. Catherine.
We knew we didn't have much time. I kissed my hand and transfered the kiss to the statue of St. Catherine, why, I don't know, I don't really believe in saints as intermediaries, but the image of her being martyred really touched me, especially in this time of great peril and darkness.
We headed out of the castle for a portion of the dream that I don't now remember, but it was dark and chaotic like the day. At once we were rushing back into the walls of the fortress, pursued by an angry mob of soldiers. We were one of a persecuted group, the soldiers were rounding us up and killing us, as many as they could find, just like in Hotel Rwanda (or like the Shiite death squads are doing right now in Iraq). But they were medieval-looking soldiers, they looked like they belonged in the castle. We looked like peasants, and our clothes were ragged from the mud and the rain and continuous wear. This time the sky behind the castle was a mix of purple and red. The chinese dragons could no longer be seen- they had been completely covered and destroyed but a layer of advancing lava, that was using the low point in the wall at the dragons to spill into the courtyard. It wouldn't be long before it brought the entire wall down. The sky rained ash like snowflakes.
The soldiers cornered us and seized us, I was the one that they brought to the rotting wooden structure in the center of the wall of the compound, between where the chinese dragons once stood. They lashed my wrists to two posts on either side of me. There was shouting, and the wind had picked up, though the rain (besides that of ash) had ceased. They trundled me onto the platform and drew back, bringing out their bows.

I was not afraid.

I had somehow known that this would be my fate ever since I'd seen the bust of St. Catherine. If she could take martyrdom, I could, if only she were with me. I didn't look at the statue now. The real St. Catherine was not there. Instead I looked up at the shrieking heavens. The tears left ashy rivulets down my dirty face.
ST. CATHERINE!! I screamed, my lungs raw from the running and the tears and the ash. I had never in all my life prayed to a saint.


They tensed their bows. I could not even hear the commands, so wild was the wind at that moment. They let fly their arrows!


I woke up.

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Killing Time
Wednesday. 1.17.07 11:23 pm
Once again I have lived this day
As if I had a thousand days to live

This day, as fit for life as any other
I spent its drowsy span killing it

Wasted day, betrayed hours
Nikstlitslepmur, spinning gold into straw

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The Sensitive Plant
Tuesday. 1.16.07 10:23 pm
Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that
Which within its boughs like a spirit sat,
Ere its outward form had known decay,
Now felt this change, I cannot say.

Whether that Lady's gentle mind,
No longer with the form combined
Which scattered love, as stars do light,
Found sadness, where it left delight,

I dare not guess; but in this life
Of error, ignorance and strife,
Where nothing is, but all things seem,
And we the shadows of the dream,

It is a modest creed, and yet
Pleasant if one considers it,
To own that death itself must be,
Like all the rest, a mockery.

---excerpt from "The Sensitive Plant", by Shelley

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Heartbreak Hotel
Monday. 1.15.07 11:35 pm
Browsing through Nutang lately has made me think of this quote by Marcel Proust:

"Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.”

How true. Consider, for example, one you may have loved, who broke your heart. The day before she broke your heart, her name was like a butterfly who came to alight on your tongue, and you direct the conversation carefully so that her name stays there as long as possible. This can make you a very poor conversationalist as far as your friends are concerned. It's kind of hard to speak well or with abundant wit when you have a large, winged insect sitting on your tongue. Not to mention the fact that its little, curious probiscus would make you giggle insanely. Unless it was the WHITE butterfly of the butterfly museum of Massachusetts, because those fucking things hurt you!!! Especially when you do this:

In the course of several days, hours, minutes, this person's name can become the damn pixie moth infestation that you can't get out of your room. No matter how many times you see a pixie moth and viciously kill it and throw it in the bin, you will always find another... another reference, another reminder, another DAMN MOTH that you CANNOT EXPUNGE!!! It infects your mind, your dreams (if you can sleep at all!) You sit in class and want to write that name in secret, elaborate languages, surrounded by tragic song lyrics, letting the lecture pass over you like you were a stone in a stream, the words having no real effect on you besides to slowly wear you away. But you don't want that name in your notebook. You don't want it ANYWHERE. You want to talk about it all the time, but when you do it makes your mouth feel dry and gross, and it makes your stomach hurt with rememberance. You oscillate between intense anger, thinking that it would be easier for you if that person had been in a tragic accident and killed instead alive somewhere, going about his day, not wanting you or loving you or caring if you are alive and in pain.
Then your mood changes to the sort of desperate, groggy echo of the love you felt before. You want everything good for that person. You want her to be happy, even if it means that you must drag yourself through the gutter every day for the rest of your life, scraping your face on the abrasive sidewalk, sucking up bits of what was like a catfish on an aquarium wall. You believe that you'll feel like this forever, you'll be in love with her forever. You don't want to think thoughts about how you'll forget her someday, because you don't want to forget her. If you forget the love that you shared, doesn't that mean that it was less somehow? You don't want this person and this love to fade into the past. It would take away everything that was real about it.
This mood usually gives way to despair. WHY? WHY doesn't he like me? What is wrong with me? Why can't he see that I am everything he's ever wanted or needed and *she* is so wrong for him in every way?!?!
In my opinion, this is the worst part. Make it pass quickly, or you will do something you regret. All three of these moods are both painful and incredibly destructive. This calls for another quote by Marcel Proust:

"Like everybody who is not in love, he thought one chose the person to be loved after endless deliberations and on the basis of particular qualities or advantages."

The truth is, this person who just broke your heart isn't the right one for you. And if she chose someone else, or just didn't choose you, it likely isn't because he is better, or more handsome, or more appealing, or of better character. If she did choose him for these qualities then she probably isn't actually in love with him (or you). Love isn't rational. Or kind. So think about it: You didn't choose to fall in love with her. At this point you might even realize that had you had your wits about you you probably would have chosen *not* to fall in love with her. She is governed by the same principles. She's probably fallen in love with some asshole, and she'll figure that out later, and she'll read this Marcel Proust quote and nod sadly because she'll know it's true. But that will not make her fall back in love with you. You don't get to pick. Ever.

Another uplifting quote:

We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.”
Marcel Proust

So he breaks your heart. You can't heal from that by immediately dating somebody else. You can't hide your emotions, you have to slog through every step, questioning everything, feeling miserable, etc. It sucks. I hate it.
And finally:

“Those whose suffering is due to love are, as we say of certain invalids, their own physicians”
Marcel Proust

You don't have to be sick forever. Cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it.
This person who broke your heart, you don't really want to remember him. It could take years to forget him. You know how when you're falling asleep and if all you think about is falling asleep, it makes it impossible to fall asleep? Well, you need to develop that falling-away-from-this-plane-of-existence kind of attitude that leads to actual sleep. You have to go through all your things and expunge his memory. Then you have to go out and focus on doing all the things you never had time for because you were wasting it on him. At first you can do this simply so it looks like you are busy and happy and you want to make him feel bad. Everybody does that, if that will get you out of the house, then by all means do it. Fake smiles can create smile lines and pave the way for real ones. This will distract your mind from any remaining pixie moths.

After a long time goes by, after you've started to have recreational crushes on random people again, after you've made yourself a more interesting and desirable person through a combination of spiteful reasons and real self-improving ones, you might see your former object of affection again. She might come in with some mutual friends. You might have to hug each other in greeting. During a period of weeks or months or years, that hug will be something special... it will be centered on the stomach, stomach-to-stomach. It will last a little longer than it should. It will be infused with meaning. It will be slightly melodramatic and bittersweet. You'll wonder if the mutual friends were paying attention to the awkwardness and irony of it all.

But eventually, the two of you will exchange a hug, somewhere, for some reason, and the feeling will have totally disappeared. It isn't a hollow feeling, but a full one- but inanimate, like you're expecting to touch a hot pan and it turns out to be room temperature. Nothing. The absence of feeling.

I remember I did this to a guy once. An embrace involves two people, but it is always controlled by the one who cares least. It can be extended by the one who cares more, of course, but the tone is completely set by the one who cares least. So this guy, our hugs were always of the kind described above, even when I hated him, and one day I saw him and everything I had ever felt had disappated: this includes love, anger, envy, pity, and hate. The hug was short and filled with nothing. When it ended I could tell that he knew that and he hadn't been expecting it. The satisfaction I should have felt was dulled by indifference.

Somewhat recently someone did that to me... it was weird. We'd never gone out nor had either of us tried to effect that end. However, there had always been something there, even when he was dating other girls. But recently he's been dating this one girl that he really likes for a while, and they've become, as he tells me, "serious... whatever that means." So when we embraced the last time, all of that specialness that used to be there was conspicuously absent. It was only then when I realized what the extent of their relationship must be and how it had obviously changed from the last time we'd met. It made me happy in a way, because I like them both and knowing the depth of his affection for her made me think that they might last. But it also made me feel bereft. Funny how much meaning can be encapsulated in the absence of tangible emotion.

At this stage, the name of your former beloved to you like a miller moth in a park outside. Small, unimportant, not a cause of concern. Almost as soon as you note its existence you forget about it. That person that you never wanted to forget has slowly turned into somebody that you wouldn't mind forgetting about. And while the memory of your love is never lost, it is relegated to the past where it belongs. You can call it up whenever you wish (you'll find you won't often choose to call it up) but it doesn't haunt your present.

You are free.

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Make Sure Your Lab Comes Standard with a Caleb
Friday. 1.12.07 9:43 pm
Well it's quarter to ten, I guess it's time for dinner.

Sometimes surfing nutang and deviantart and facebook are more important than eating.

I had a minor crisis of purpose yesterday, coupled with a complete lack of motivation. The crisis of purpose was averted by an email from ranor, thank goodness, but the complete lack of motivation lived on. It leaked into this morning, but luckily it waned with the passing of the day. Mostly it waned because of Caleb. Let me tell you about Caleb. Caleb turned 27 today. He's a computer nerd. He can program in many tongues. I want to be Caleb when I grow up. When I am 27, and the only impetus that remains propelling towards my thesis defense is the overpowering desire to "get the hell out of this place" like all the old grad students here... I hope I am just like Caleb.

He knows everything you could want to know about computer programming, ArcMap, Unix, geology, astronomy, geophysics, integrals, everything. Or at least, he says a bunch of related things until one of you remembers what the answer is. One time I asked him what he thought that the depth that heat from the surface penetrated into the Martian crust, and he calculated all of the parts of the equation aloud, including remembering formulae, various physical constants, and doing both number manipulation and integrals in his head. He ended the whole thing, "To an order of magnitude, anyway." I really can't tell you how overwhelmingly attractive I found him just then. That is when I resolved to be him some day.
And he seems to have endless patience for people bothering him! "Caleb...?? Why did all of my data points just disappear?" "Caleb, does the fact that it says thmvisget.ERR now mean that it didn't work?" "Caleb, when did the magnetic field of Mars disappear?" He manages to be both one of the nicest people I've ever met and incredibly sarcastic at the same time. This is because he is sarcastic about everything in science and nothing in life, or relating to talking to you. He's my ideal nerd.

When I took Observational Astronomy I almost died of frustration because I didn't know anything about Linux or programming in idl and there was never, EVER anyone there to help me with it. I thought maybe that I just hated Linux and idl and anything that wasn't Windows, because it was SO FRUSTRATING!! But now I know it's because I didn't have a Caleb back then.

I think every lab should come standard with one.

He's always there, always willing to help, and all knowing. Jim tells you what to do, but there's no way he could tell you how to do it. Caleb is the one that gets it done. (and Jay, when he's not in Antarctica).

Someday there will be a young, impressionable grad student like me, and he or she will venture into the Seafloor Lab, and I will be there, as much a fixture of the place as a floor lamp, or Tracing Table Covered With Maps. Nobody will want me to graduate, because I'll Know Everything.

Sigh... maybe I'll be engaged like Caleb, too. But you can't have everything.

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A Computer Chip from A Butterfly's Wing
Thursday. 1.11.07 7:38 pm
So I was reading "Physics Today", but it was really "Physics Last October", since that's when the issue was from.

It was talking about photonic crystals. Photonic crystals are an awesome kind of structure where you build a lattice of molecules and you build it with exactly the right spacing so that the walls of the crystal are just as far apart as a particular wavelength of light. If this is the case, it will be difficult for that wavelength of light to propagate through the crystal, or it will only be able to propagate in certain directions, depending on the geometry of the crystal.

People started making these things back in the 1980s, and the ramifications are huge. If we were able to construct a nano crystal and design it so that you could control the flow of light through it (like today's wires control the flow of electrons in electrical applications) then we could send information at near light speed through a computer chip that would be smaller than any computer chip we have invented thus far. Your average fiber optic cable, now able to carry about 40 channels of information, would be able to carry something like 10,000.

As is often the case, no sooner did we develop this technology did we discover that the animal kingdom has been using the same technology for milennia. Photonic crystals make up the iridescence of many butterfly wings, the vibrant quality of a peacock feather, and the brilliant fluorescent light show of certain kinds of jelly-fish. The more equant types of photonic crystals are able to project the same light, no matter what angle the object is viewed. Other types of crystals, like those of the jellyfish, are parallelograms, and they reflect white light in one direction, and a rainbow light when viewed from another direction. The jellyfish can control which by moving its tentacles.

If you made a photograph out of these crystals, it would last forever, because while pigments fade over time, the crystals always channel light in the same way.

And creepiest of all... scientists have been working on making the perfect photonic crystals for decades, but it's really difficult. The crystals are tiny, and small defects can ruin everything. However, if you could decode the genome of a weevil or butterfly and find the gene that codes for the photonic crystals, you could adjust the genes of the creature so that they built the kind of photonic crystals you wanted. Not only would the DNA make it perfectly, if it did make a mistake, it had a self-correction mechanism. Not only that, but you wouldn't have to manufacture the photonic crystal chips... they would reproduce themselves.

So maybe you could get a computer chip by pulling the wings off butterflies....

Kind of makes you think differently about MSN's lovely BUTTERFLY LOGO, DOESN'T IT???????

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