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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


Zanzibar
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:

Samarinda

Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
CURRENT MOON
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
W: PARKOUR!
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
Exodus
1984
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)
Uglies
Pretties
Specials
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"
Pompeii
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
Bound
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
Twilight
Eclipse
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
Infidel
Neuromancer
The Help
Flip
Zion Andrews
The Unit
Princess
Quantum Brain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
Delirium
Memento Nora
Robopocalypse
The Name of the Wind
The Terror
Sister
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
Divergent
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
2312
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.
The Balancing Act
Tuesday. 11.28.06 9:06 pm
An aside:

Wouldn't it be cool if you had a room that rested on one central pivot point, and you had to arrange all of your furniture (with no two pieces the same) perfectly so that it would remain balanced but still be aesthetically pleasing, and in order to walk through it you had to control a weight (or bring another person to enter from the other side) and perfectly counterbalance the whole time to get whatever it was that you wanted from the room?


I wonder what would happen if you failed? There should be some way to set the room aright again. At least, while you were still practicing. Maybe you practice and then once you were really good you could create the "real" room on a pinnacle in the middle of a vast abyss only accessible by one really skinny pathway on either side and you could put your precious jewels or computer chips or ancient artifacts or deadly viruses in there and no one could get them out besides you. (and the hero, of course, who has been studying center of mass problems in physics class... you didn't think of that, did you! You fool! ALgggh! your beautiful wickedness!)

Comment! (3) | Recommend!

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Monday. 11.27.06 11:07 pm
I just finished an awesome book called "Darklord of Derkhelm". It is hilarious. It manages to be a book about magic while actually being a book about bureaucratic nonsense and human relations (even while a large percentage of characters are not human at all!) Before that I read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" which is kind of like a mix between 1984 and I, Robot, but just as famous in its own right and written by Philip K. Dick. Ok, well, I'm going put in my "favorite" (read=most awful) part of the book- it isn't crucial to the plot, but it's the part that touched me about it. The part that made this book real to me. For anyone who's ever read this book, you know what I mean.

Ok, really if you haven't read this book you should go and read it right now and then come back. It's only 244 pages.

At one point one of the human characters gets hold of a spider. This is a special occurence because there aren't very many wild, living creatures left on the Earth. There aren't really that many left in captivity, either. The wild spider could bring in as much as $100 for the guy who found it. He brings it back to the apartment where there are a bunch of androids hiding out from the police. This is what happens next:

_________________________________________________________________________

"I've never seen a spider," Pris said. She cupped the medicine bottle in her palms, surveying the creature within. "All those legs. Why's it need so many legs, J.R.?"
"That's the way spiders are," Isidore said, his heart pounding; he had difficulty breathing. "Eight legs."
"Eight?" Irmard Baty said. "Why couldn't it get by on four? Cut four off and see." Impulsively opening her purse, she produced a pair of clean, sharp cuticle scissors, which she passed to Pris.
A weird terror struck at J.R. Isidore.
Carrying the medicine bottle into the kitchen, Pris seated herself at J.R. Isidore's breakfast table. She removed the lid from the bottle and dumped the spider out. "It probably won't be able to run as fast," she said, "but there's nothing for it to catch around here anyhow. It'll die anyway." She reached for the scissors.
"Please," Isidore said.
Pris glanced up inquiringly. "Is it worth something?"
"Don't mutilate it," he said wheezingly. Imploringly.
With the scissors, Pris snipped off one of the spider's legs.
.....
Pris had now cut three legs from the spider, which crept about miserably on the kitchen table, seeking a way out, a path to freedom. It found none.
.....
"How's the spider?" She bent over Pris's shoulder.
With the scissors, Pris snipped off another of the spider's legs. "Four now," she said. She nudged the spider. "He won't go. But he can."
"It won't walk," Irmgard said.
"I can make it walk." Roy Baty got out a book of matches, lit a match; he held it near the spider, closer and closer, until at last it crept feebly away.
"I was right," Irmgard said. "Didn't I say it could walk with only four legs?" She peered up expectantly at Isidore. "What's the matter?"
....
Pris, with the scissors, cut yet another leg from the spider. All at once John Isidore pushed her away and lifted up the mutilated creature. He carried it to the sink and there he drowned it. In him, his mind, his hopes, drowned, too. As swiftly as the spider.

__________________________________________________________________________

I know some people who've done that to a spider before. Plucked off its legs, until it only had one leg, one leg to try and drag itself along... one leg, and still a desire to escape....

The funny thing about this book is its ambiguity, and the confusion that it stirs inside of you. There are some androids who are amazing additions to society and completely harmless to it. They must be destroyed because they have no empathy. The problem with having no empathy is manifested in the not-so-harmless androids like the ones in the apartment. They look at a harmless spider like the one from the hallway and they don't feel with it, they can't take its pain and make it their own.

We're human. We CAN empathize with the spider.

But yet there are humans, children, (who have grown into adults whom I like and respect) who did not empathize with the spider. Who stood above it, torturer above the tortured, and laugh gleefully as the spider died in agony. Why should these people be spared while the androids die? Why should Rick's depressed wife continue to live without enjoyment or appreciation, while the opera singer who takes full advantage of all life offers must be found and immediately retired?

WHY do we feel empathy for the spider? WHY is empathy a virtue?

For my part I would kill all of those androids. In the next model I would include empathy and then I would give them equal status to human beings. And to be quite honest I kill spiders (but as quickly and painlessly as possible). I guess I could try not killing them- I could toss them out the window. But which would be worse, a quick and painless death, or a fall from a three-story window?

Good thing I haven't had any spiders in my current room. After the death of the spider, though, J.R. Isidore goes to the wall where he looks upon all of the stains from spiders and other insects that were smashed upon it... they could have been the last insects of their kind on the entire Earth, and someone mindlessly smashed them against the wall. That's pretty much like my room in Germany, only they were mosquitos and they DESERVED IT!

But I suppose I would think twice about killing them if they were the among the last living things on the Earth.

What a conundrum... why do we feel such tender pity for the spider who crawls away on three legs, but smash it with so little thought on a regular basis?
If there were a being much larger than me into whose realm I mistakenly strolled, I would hope that he would kill me outright, in one terrifying, sudden motion, rather than torturing me for the better part of an hour before leaving me to die, rather than burning me slowly with a large magnifying glass, rather than pouring water into my ant hill until all of my friends washed away as in the biblical flood, rather than rolling over me again and again with a bicycle tire, filling up my hole with driveway salt, etc......

Comment! (3) | Recommend! (1)

The Queen City of the Plains
Saturday. 11.25.06 10:54 am
Well I'm now home in Denver for the Thanksgiving holiday. Denver Denver Denver, how lovely. I got to drive up to Wyoming for a touch on Tuesday to pick up my poor ailing sisterling, who's got a nasty cold. Ah, to drive 80mph across the blessed prairie... the bimodal color scheme... icy blue firmament, tan grasslands... herds of antelope... beautiful, with the sun setting over the equally icy blue mountains, crowned with mantles of white snow.
I felt like I could finally breathe again.
Not that I don't like Rhode Island. I really like Rhode Island, more than I ever expected. But here the very chord of inspiration that reverberates softly inside my being is struck each time I lift my eyes to the West.

Though it is a bit dry, I must admit.

Comment! (6) | Recommend!

Relationships Through a Vent
Monday. 11.20.06 8:36 am

I was thinking- what if my whole life passed within these four walls? What if as soon as I'd moved here, I'd been imprisoned in this room and forgotten? What if all I ever knew of the outside world was what I could hear of my housemates through that large, elaborately-styled cast iron vent?
That would be crazy. I'd hear everything- the fighting, the harsh words, the forgiveness, the murmur of sweet nothings that pass between them, the giggling, everything. "Let's go out!" she'd say. "I don't want to," he'd respond. I wouldn't understand... how could you want to stay in? I, trapped in one place forever, would be unable to grasp such an emotion.

I wouldn't even know what they looked like. Would it be better if I didn't know what they looked like? I could pretend that they looked however I pleased.
But even in my imagination they wouldn't look perfect or beautiful. Their appearances in my mind would be colored by the way they act toward one another. His face would show the mark of the ugly words he uses when he's angry. Her face would show the desperate love of someone who needs more attention than she's getting. His would should the lines of frustration of someone dealing with someone who has absolutely a bottomless need for attention.

Would I take the same pleasure that I do now in the cold silence of their absence? Ah, the cold silence. I missed it while I was in California. I mean, California does have ominous, foggy silences, but they are always full of something. Pregnant silences. The cold silence of winter is empty. I like it. I missed it. There's nothing quite as silent as that. My advisor says that that's what working in Antartica is like.

Would I find that silence lonely? Would I even know what lonely was like anymore, lacking any immediate experience for comparison?

But how would my world be changed when they let me out, and I saw them for the first time? I wonder, if I then tried to have a relationship, how it would be shaped by what I'd had to endure for so many years, hearing an entire relationship unfold through a vent.

Maybe through time different people would move into that room and I'd get more than one data point on which to base my analyses.

It's not the first time people have pondered such a question, of course- I should imagine that deciding the nature of relationships through a vent would be alike in difficulty to trying to determine the nature of the world by watching it go by in shadows on the wall of a cave.

Comment! (4) | Recommend! (4)

Oh, those crazy roommates
Sunday. 11.19.06 1:58 pm
Well my roommates are having sex again. I think that's probably the third time since whenever I woke up, around quarter to ten. And in between? GIGGLINg. I mean, don't know much about it, but it would seem like that much sex would tire you out after a while. I mean, seriously, like in the morning, in the middle of the night, right after lunch- when do you do work? When do you write poetry? When do you surf facebook for hours, determining how many groups exist with the phrase "Denver Broncos" in their titles and whether they are for or against?

What kind of losers would give up these priceless opportunities for hours and hours of extremely loud carnal pleasure with someone you've sort of known for a few months and who conveniently lives right downstairs?


Not me. I'll be over here playing my music louder and louder and trying to read a book about tectonic processes on Mercury.

Man, I used to think that this kind of irritant only happened in those extreme cases in the movies where people live in crappy apartments with very thin walls. This is the second time I've lived in a place where this has been a problem and neither place has been crappy.

I've always liked this shirt on that bustedtees website that says, "Sex: Do it for the Kids"

heh heh.

Here's my version:

Abstinence: Do it for the Neighbors.

Comment! (7) | Recommend!

The Nature of Goodness
Thursday. 11.16.06 4:00 am
Ok, so a Tale of Two Cities. Don't read this if you don't want to hear me refer to what happens in the end.


Sydney Carton. In my opinion one of the most sympathetic and tragically noble characters in literature. A waste of life. A drunkard. Someone who could have been attractive but ruined it by weakness in character. I know plenty of people like this. So I was reading about him on Wikipedia, and I thought the person who was synopsizing him put the question of who he really was interestingly. The person basically said that Carton's sacrifice at the end could be viewed in two different ways: Either he did it nobly and selflessly, giving his life because he cares so much for Lucie Manette and he wants her to have her husband back, something something, whatever. I'll copy and paste the actual entry:

"The most common interpretation of Sydney Carton is one in which he is the selfless benefactor of others. Having grown weary of his life of self-indulgence, he decides to sacrifice it in order to save the life of Charles Darnay, who had shown himself more worthy of living it than Carton had his own. However, a more self-centered interpretation of Carton also exists. In this interpretation, Carton regrets his being regarded as a ne'er-do-well for having wasted his life, and chooses to give it up, hoping that his past will be forgotten and that he will be remembered for his sacrifice. This interpretation suggests that Carton is more concerned with his reputation than with the well-being of Darnay and his family."

Now this made me wonder. Would the fact that Carton gave his life for Darnay just so that people would remember him as a good person instead of a huge failure at life make his act selfish?
I think a far more selfish act would have been to let Darnay die and then attempt to take his place in Lucie's heart after he was gone, don't you? If your whole life was spent doing good for others, but the only reason you did it is because you wanted to die with everyone thinking that you were good, would that mean that you yourself were never actually "good", and your whole life was essentially a farce? If people discovered that your driving force for good wasn't that you were good but that you wanted to be seen as being good, would they decide that you were in fact a selfish person?

Let's turn that on its head. What if you did all kinds of bad things, but you did them for selfless reasons? Does that make you a good person? I can't answer with a resounding yes on that one.

Perhaps the most noble of actions are those in which you make a sacrifice for what is right without anyone ever knowing that you did it. Perhaps everyone thinks ill of you, but if they only knew the truth, they would know that you are noble and good. However, by the very nature of the truth it would be ignoble to reveal it. Yet you steadfastly stay the course because you are essentially good and that trumps your desire for people to see you as a good person.

So that begs the question- would Carton have sacrificed himself for the sake of Darnay if Lucie would have never known about his sacrifice? What if he managed to wrangle Darnay's head from the guillotine and replace it with his own but Darnay never knew how or why it came about? Would he still have done it?


I think he would have.


Comment! (5) | Recommend! (2)

Waaay off the Richter
Monday. 11.13.06 10:29 pm
I'm learning about how we figure things out about the surface of Venus, considering that the whole damn planet is covered in clouds and they absorb, scatter and reflect every photon of light that tries to come through without transmitting a bit. (well, as little as possible.) This has of course created a runaway greenhouse effect on the planet, which has finally resulted in a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead, and a surface pressure more than 90 times the surface pressure here on Earth. There is lightning on Venus, which is pretty cool, and some rain... but the rain is made of sulfuric acid. Talk about acid rain. The landers that the Soviets put down on the surface lasted only hours before the intense atmosphere fried them completely. So how can we learn about the surface then, if it is impossible to see? Pure. Ingenuity. Of Smart People. Who are not Me.

First of all we use radar. Radar is a type of light which has a really long wavelength, kind of like radio waves. So while a photon of light with a high energy and a short wavelength zig-zags really fast and runs into all kinds of particles on its way to the surface (thus getting scattered away uselessly) radar takes a much more direct path through all the particles and therefore a lot more of the radar beam gets through. If you can bounce radar off the surface and recollect it you can figure out all of the topography on the surface, and to some extent, how rough the surface is (a smooth surface returns a strong signal because it's like a mirror, a rough surface doesn't return as much signal because it's like a broken mirror in that it returns light in every direction, not just the one where the light came from). We use other things, like the reflective and electric properties of minerals, to learn all kinds of things using just radar.

BUT GET THIS: We want to know something about the seismic activities going on in the crust of Venus (the "venusquakes"). But if we put a seismometer on the surface, it's going to be crushed and fried in hours. What to do? These random guys figured out that if you have an atmosphere that is as thick as Venus', the seismic shaking from a quake, that is, the wave of energy passing through the crust, actually continues propagating through the air above the crust after it hits that interface in a measurable way (because the atmosphere is so thick!!). The crustal wave can actually transfer some of its energy to the air, kind of like shaking out a rug underwater and imparting the waves of the rug to the water around it. So by looking for these waves, we can tell what is going on beneath the surface of Venus without even having to look through its atmosphere.

These people are so crafty!

btw- have you ever looked into the sky and seen a flat sheet of cloud that looks like a bunch of parallel bands? These clouds are located at a place in the sky where two air masses of different densities are moving past each other. The interaction of the two densities along a plane causes waves to form. These are the same kind of waves that happen between sea and sky, only not as extreme because the densities of the air are not as different from each other as both are from the density of water. You can also get waves like these from different densities of water, so they are essentially submarine waves. During WWII, submarines wanted to get into the Mediterranean, but they couldn't turn on their engines or they would be detected by sonar. So they devised a plan where they would go down to the depth where two different densities of water causes submarine waves to go through the Straight of Gibraltar. So essentially they surfed into the Mediterranean, on waves 100s of feet below the surface!!

That's why waves are soooo coool.

Comment! (2) | Recommend!

Spirit Island
Monday. 11.13.06 6:52 pm
Jasper continued paddling, and the river opened suddenly into a large lake, crowned by mountains, the images of whom shimmered slightly ahead of the prow of the boat. In the center of the lake there was an island, inhabited by a dark copse of tall evergreens which stood out sharply against the dazzling background of the early mountain fall.
Spirit Island. He repeated the name to Dakar, who bowed very deeply to the old trees, his wings deflected and their tips dragging gently in the water.
"Why do you bow?" Jasper asked.
"I show respect to the spirits of your ancestors," Dakar replied uncertainly.
"Oh, my ancestors aren't here," Jasper explained, "Nobody in my family has ever been here but me. I just come here to think sometimes. It's restful for my mind and I usually think of whatever I need."
"But who delivers the answers you seek? What spirits live here? Not your ancestors?"
Jasper shook his head. "I think of the answers on my own. Sometimes your mind just needs a quiet place. They just call it Spirit Island because it sounds nice. I think maybe the name was passed down from the ancient people who lived here before my race came."
He paused, looking up at the trees as they whispered together in the dying light.

"If there are spirits here," he said slowly, "Then they must be very old indeed."

Comment! (3) | Recommend!

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