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
My secret life
Wednesday. 1.24.07 10:03 pm
I awoke in the early hours of the morning (around 4am) to the smell and sound of my roommate cooking eggs. I shuffled out in order to make him gasp with concerned astonishment that he had awakened me by his 0-dark-thirty egg-filled breakfast. He went to NYC today to shadow a plastic surgeon. He's thinking about getting into plastic surgery. I don't know though, that might take up the time he would otherwise spend teaching o-chem, teaching physics ("which is a little boring to teach because it's soooo easy!"), finishing med-school, writing his neuroscience dissertation, doing his normal residency, doing some carpentry (on the side), speculating in real estate, considering funding online dating start-ups, and fixing the washing machine. Meanwhile his mother is a librarian who used to be a classical pianist and both his father and brother were golf pros. Now his brother lives in San Francisco and sometimes France, where he has a house on the french riviera and he is involved with high stakes investment banking.
Back when he was in college (after he graduated from an alternative "hippy" magnet school that only the two smartest kids from each regular school were allowed to attend, where he was a class or two behind Matt Damon, and lived on the same block as the New Kids on the Block), he was in a rocker band and enjoyed some popularity as a bassist. Now that he's getting a little older, he'd like to settle down and have some kids. He's also shifted his attention to becoming incredibly buff, which involves constantly pumping iron at gold's gym as well as eating protein shakes for breakfast which are a mix of juice, ice cream, ice, protein powder, fruit, and broccoli. It is usually a brownish-green color and the blender is on the other side of my wall. Then he makes fun of me for eating baloney and peanuts and eats another ten eggs.
But the point of this story is that this morning when I awoke, my first thought was of course of boolean operators, because I'd been trying to cram Matlab into my head for the entire day previous. But my SECOND thought was that I should spend this semester cultivating a secret life. I mean, the internet is a good place to start, and some may say that I have a secret life online (yes, it goes even further than nutang, my online secret life), but I think in addition I will cultivate a real-life secret life. What will my secret life entail, you may ask? Why I cannot tell you, it is a secret. But I will tell you that while last semester the main thrusts of my constant battle of self-improvement were learning how to cook food and learning how to be graceful (AND TURN MY FEET OUT!!!), and the thrust of the winter term was to get into touch with my creative side (i.e. start drawing, writing, and taking photographs again) the thrust of this semester will be centered on improvement of the brain.
I intend to learn everything there is to learn. EVERYthing. I will learn all of it. And memorize most of it.
Of course this focus on the brain is sometimes a mistake, because it ignores the body and an idle body can wreck havoc on the concentration that the mind is trying to achieve, so if I can throw a random break-dancing class in there, I will, but I'm mostly going to try to get to bed early and wake up early and memorize things and read outside materials (not all of it has to be related to class, of course) and become one of those mofos that seems to know every damn thing. In the past the mistake I have made with these types of semesters is that I aim to "do well in my classes". I can't really control that. I can only *KNOW. EVERYTHING.* and the evaluation methods that my professor chooses will be up to him. But I will not be hemmed in by the subject material presented in my classes.
All of this will be more achievable if my aims are mostly secret, and my sessions of scholarly enhancements clandestine. No more will be said of this. Forget all you know.....
Wednesday. 1.24.07 5:28 pm
Besides the word "pet peeve" another pet peeve of mine is when people say, "There is wayy too much testosterone/estrogen in this room."
Man, that is so annoying. Nobody likes to be diminished to the sum of their biological/chemical parts. That is SO annoying. In fact, I want to invent a word describing how it feels when someone does this to you. Maybe "biolittlement"? "biominish"?
The Battle of the Sexes
Wednesday. 1.24.07 7:11 am
I'm writing this blog because after reading Ranor's most recent entry I got to thinking about it more in depth. Because it's not really just about boys crying, it's about boys being truly human- in a sense, for a moment not being boys or men at all but sharing in the entire gamut of human emotions elicited by human experience.
So this got me to think about the differences between man and woman. I was talking to my roommate the other day about these differences, and he was lamenting that "women these days" of "our generation" (he is 10 years older than me, but whatevz) have lost their femininity. They've developed this defensive exterior, this sheen of hardness that he claims is not present in other generations. I think part of the reason he makes this proclamation is because his girlfriend typifies this type of woman, but he may be right. In the past when women weren't so integrated in the workplace, your average woman did not need a particularly thick skin. The workplace demands a tough exterior to be able to deal with the competition and criticism that one inevitably runs into there. Sure, these pressures can be found at home, but at home you aren't always required to deal with them with stony-faced professionalism. It is only natural that women should develop behaviors that reflect their surroundings and further their goals.
And let us think for a moment on what "femininity" actually is. I think in some ways it is the gentle and tender way a woman moves through life, avoiding the bluntness of direct engagement and being a pleasure for the eyes, the ears, and the mind to encounter, through grace, gentleness of voice, and attention to her looks. Many people might disagree with me here, but I believe that this is the femininity of which my roommate speaks. But here again we see the hallmarks of change. In the past a woman held a lesser position than a man (some would call it "complementary" in some cultures, but I call it lesser because it weakened her independence and curtailed her personal liberties). But this absolutely did not mean that women were powerless creatures. I think they say it in the Joy Luck Club- A man is the head of a household, but a woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.
Woman, in her pursuit of power and influence (a drive which is the same as a man's) has been forced for milennia to assume the role of manipulator. She works hard to seem unthreatening, meek, beautiful, and tantalizing. She studies and comes to understand the moods of both women and men, becoming sensitive to changes in them and how they might be affected by her own behavior. In short, just as a man must learn how to stand on his own two feet before other men, boldy expressing himself, appearing strong and striving after his goals, a woman must learn how to use the man as a tool to get what she wants- whether that is to have him ask her out, to get him to get her the presents she desires but cannot purchase, or to direct the future of her family. Thus the so-called "feminine wiles" of woman are just, in my humble opinion, a reaction to the power structure in which woman was born. Blunt women did not often get what they wanted, because the man had the power over them to overrule it, and bluntness in women was not valued.
This is no longer true.
It has been a slow march, but with the coming of the 20th century, women for the first time can achieve complete financial and personal independence. I cannot overstate the importance of this development. It changes everything. For the first time in history, woman stands with man, not slightly behind and to the side. For the first time, she is subject to many of the same societal pressures as he. As our world passes through the Age of Technology, they are learning and experiencing things new things together, and innovating together as well.
Woman is learning that if she wants something out of this world, for the first time in history, she can just stand up and get it.
So what does this have to do with men crying?
I say... so what if women of this age appear to have lost their "femininity"? Womankind is going through a radical revision of strategy here. She is free, but she hasn't yet decided what she thinks freedom means. At first she wanted to seem much more like a man, and reject all of the hallmarks of the traditional female role. Now I believe that the pendulum is swinging back, and women have decided that they can pick and choose from traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine roles and they have to feel shame about neither. Man is reacting to this. In many ways the liberation of women has liberated man, who is increasingly no longer stuck in his position as bread winner and caretaker, but for the first time part of a real partnership.
So in essence I am not concerned with how men and women are different. Talking about this and that silly and useless item which separates women from men- this pop culture idea of women as catty and emotional- the idea as men as feeling no emotions but anger. These commercials that portray men as idiots who can't even operate the folding backseat in a mini van! COME ON!
The thing that is important about the two sexes is that we SHARE so many THINGS. We share the workplace, we share the duties of home, we share the human experience and the whole rollercoaster of emotions that goes with it. I would much rather learn about a person's individual nature, the places where we differ and the things that we share... human being to human being. To discuss the petty differences in gender is to fill up the space between two people with trivialities. It forces each into a role- "the boyfriend" or "the girlfriend", and each begins to assume a personality around the other that they wholly lack while among friends. And that is a shame, because I think you really miss learning something about somebody else when you force that person into a role.
I think you'd find that a lot of people (like here on Nutang, for example) if you only read their writing and gendered pronouns didn't exist, it would be a long time before you could figure it out what sex they were.
So let the boys cry (if the occurrence is heart-breaking, we don't want any pansy-asses here of any sex). And let the women decide how much of their "femininity" they are going to keep. There is a man for every type of woman and a woman for every type of man. And in the broader context, away from the man/woman paradigm... there is a human being for every human being, no matter what sex they are.
Actual Entry about Valentine's Day
Monday. 1.22.07 8:27 pm
I love Valentine's Day. Well. There are very few holidays that I don't love (Martin Luther King Day, for example, tempts me with the idea that I might get a day off, and then does not deliver. Plus there are no special festive traditional MLK-day foods, games, or hats. It doesn't have to be that way, kids. Let's think of something that will make MLK day the greatest holiday ever!!)
But Valentine's Day. What is good about it? Let me tell you:
1. You get to wear a color combination that would otherwise considered hideous.
2. You get to draw little hearts all over your day planner
3. You get to eat little heart candies that practically break your teeth... it's like eating 50 abbreviated fortune cookies, and everyone likes fortune cookies!
4. Usually it is snowing. What is more romantic than snow? Ans: NOTHING!
5. You get to see boys walking around awkwardly with flowers. cute!
6. You get to dye all of your food pink! (though dyeing it green for St. Patrick's Day is definitely cooler)
7. Sudden availability of chocolate! (Reese's hearts, for example!)
8. Sometimes you get a flower from your daddy and then you can draw it three times over: once when you get it, once when it opens to its fullest glory, and once when with weeping, wilted head it lets fall its petals to the table.
Today in my Valentinesy rapture I thought with fond remembrance on where I was and what I was doing for the past four Valentine's Days.
Freshman year it was a Friday night and all of us in our hall were hanging around as usual. We shut all of the boys (excepting Ranor and at times, Dan), and we made Valentines for all of the boys in our hall. This consisted of cutting out pictures from the Victoria's Secret magazine and pasting them onto pieces of construction paper and decorating them and putting suggestive phrases in speech bubbles above the models' heads. Once that was finished, the night was still young, so we proceeded to turn the lounge into... THE FEISTY FLAMINGO: a nightclub for exotic Valentine's Day dancers. Unfortunately we had no exotic dancers, and no pole, only a stray hurdle that we had taken from the pile of old unused hurdles by the track. So we made up names for all of the girls in the hall like, "Luscious Linh" and "Curvy Kristi" and "The DomiNika". Ranor tried to teach us how to hurdle dance, among other things. It was awesome. While the lounge is now just another dorm room, the Feisty Flamingo will live on.
Sophomore year it was a Saturday and my mom was in town. We went out into the village and looked around and went to this awesome place kind of like BeadIt! where you could make a necklace for yourself. That was awesome. The weather was splendid and it was California, so all the flowers were in bloom. You know, I was thinking about it, and perhaps men once gave flowers to women on Valentine's Day because it would be pretty freakin' hard to get a flower in the middle of winter, and it probably meant that you went to some great trouble to procure it. But now all you have to do is get on the internet. This doesn't make flowers any less awesome, of course. But if you lived in SoCal, you could just go pick her some flowers (how totally romantic is that!?). When I lived there, I wanted to pick flowers all the time, but I felt bad because somebody was tending those flowers, so instead I would choose the nicest flower I could find that had already fallen off the tree or bush, and I'd take that one home and draw it.
Junior year I was in China. In fact that was the day on which Phil and I and company drifted down the river Li from Guilin to Yangshuo. While it had absolutely none of the trappings of your average Valentine's Day, it will probably always remain among the most memorable. Especially when Steven drank Snake Wine, which looks like all outward appearances like formaldehyde, as it has actual snake-bodies in it.
Senior year it fell on a Monday, and I was busy as all hell. I got back to my room late at night and I had a little gift on my desk, someone had bought me an acre of Mars from the internet. It came complete with a land deed and a map of Mars showing where your acre was on the planet (mine was on the flank of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system!). My mouth watered with thoughts of that rich, fertile volcanic soil. ;P It was from my "secret admirer". Later that evening my secret admirer was revealed. Hilarity ensued.
Then my friend Kristina and I got all of the tea lights we could find and made a little trail of candles from the steps of our rooms to our doors (which were right across from each other's) and up to our respective roommates' desks. We also put my carnations to good deaths by pulling out all of their petals and sprinkling them romantically on the floor. The wax was on the carpet for the rest of the semester. One of our suitemates gave each of us this gigantic pair of chocolate lips, and those were soooo good.
Incidentally, my "secret admirer" will spend this Valentine's Day in Guilin, China. No way, right, how crazy is that? Now all I need is for my mom to become part of the cast at the Old Feisty Flamingo, and all the Valentine's Day cosmic connections will be complete. But I don't think that's going to happen. ;)
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!
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".
ST. CATHERINE DELIVER ME!
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!
SAINT CATHERINE DELIVER ME!!!
I woke up.
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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