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
Sunday. 12.3.06 7:42 pm
Let me tell you about the time when I became full of rage today.
Well, how shall we begin this quaint tale of mankind's uglier emotions, unfolding suddenly like an out of practice yoga participant on this second of two bitterly cold jours d'hiver?
Well I suppose it can begin with the grading of exams, the more difficult part having been left to two-thirds of our tidy trio by He-Who-Chose-First. I bear him no more ill will for this decision than I normally bear him, the quantity of which grows more substantial daily. Un joke!
In the course the mindless repetition brought about by such tedious activities, I came across two papers that were exactly identical. In fact, one seemed to be simply the typed version of the other, and they were turned in right next to one another. Furthermore, the written paper happened to be the paper of one of our brightest students. Further furthermore, the paper which was typed was of a student whose grade in the class is more than 10% less than that of our hero. In her facebook picture she can be seen kissing the cheek of none other than her apparent magnanimous geology-class helper. GET A CLUE, GEOLOGY STUDENT OF HIGH STANDING! YOUR LIFE COULD BE RUINED BY SUCH A JEZABEL! Do the students who thusly take their futures in their hands stop to think what a grave manner of sin they are committing? For it takes two willing parties for this sort of connivery, and my anger is fueled more by he who allows another to cheat from his work than that lazy and ignorant fool who cheateth by him, for his or her ignorance and subsequent failure of future life will be punishment enough.
What price, student, is your honor?
How large or small must the point value be before it is worth its weight in integrity?
May I borrow your work, says the corruptor, the "friend"?
"NAY!" sayeth the student of mighty righteousness, "I worked hard upon it, and thou shouldst complete it thine own damn self!"
That's really all you have to say. Any friend worth having will not sever the bonds of friendship over such a statement as outlined immediately above.
But lo, revenons Ã nos moutons. This was the first step toward the ever-spiralling emotions of rage.
Second in this toppling torrential tumid tower of terrible RAGE came when I, aware of how desperately I needed some cookies to cheer my darkening mood, opened the drawer wherein my Reynolds Wrap normally lies, only to discover that my ROOMMATES (DEMONS!) had USED ALL of my Reynolds WRAP! Alack! how many times had I used this wrap? But few! How many times had I assured my roommates that they were welcome to use my Reynolds Wrap? But NEVER. I had in fact my Clingwrap hidden as they seemed particularly inclined toward its use when they spied it newly bought among my grocery bags. GAH! But why buyest one her own box of Reynolds Wrap if not so that when she wishes to make cookies there the Reynolds Wrap lies, awaiting its purpose?? Had she but known that the Reynolds Wrap had been perniciously purloined she would have bought a new box the other day at the Stop N' Shop!
So what, may you ask, stopped me from flying into a most unstoppable rage, not unlike a hurricane of catagory 5 about which I recently learned from Dialated's hurricane project? Well, as it so happened, the evil roommates about whom I've spoken just now and previously, make it their aim to use everything up to the very last morsel... but not the last morsel. In doing this, they attempt to make it my folly to use the last of whatever we have, making it then my implicit responsibility to replace it (see: the plaintive wisps of toilet paper that cling to a half-naked cardboard roll which greets me each week in our common bathroom... as an aside, I had a social experiment whereupon I did not replace the toilet paper at all, instead shuttling my own roll back and forth from my bedroom... at the end of two weeks, the empty roll still remained perched upon the dispenser, leaving one to wonder at both the sanity and the sanitation of my coinhabitants). SO, the roll around which my full and seeming endless sheet of aluminum foil used to coil had a scrap still clothing it which my roommates had left for me to use up, which just barely covered enough of the pan to make my cookies after all.
In my blind anger, I did something drastic......
...I tossed the empty box and roll in one motion into the trash barrel, with slightly more force than was necessary.
...may the Lord forgive me my momentary loss of control.
Lost and Violent Souls
Friday. 12.1.06 9:54 pm
Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
-- T.S. Eliot
I really like this part of this poem. Actually I like most of this poem, "The Hollow Men"
But I really like the idea that we could be "trembling with tenderness". Sometimes I feel like that. Trembling with tenderness, forming prayers to broken stone.
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
ahh. what a poem this is.
Think about how many of us like to think of ourselves as lost, violent souls. Ah, but how shall we be remembered... if at all? As hollow men... headpieces stuffed with straw.... leaning against one another.... how amazingly depressing is that, non? We can't even be granted the vanity of thinking of ourselves as lost and violent souls.
Friday. 12.1.06 12:05 am
Yesterday I got to talk to my secret crush for hours. go. me.
Sam said, "So, it seemed like you two were getting a lot of important classwork done...."
In other news, I have sooo much work to do! And for some reason my work station smells like some kind of pungent bread, if bread can be pungent.
I only have two ballet classes left, and it's sad because I feel like I was just getting the hang of this ballet thing. Almost... today in my post-ballet euphoria I tried to do a little sous-sous on the sidewalk but it's Providence and I tripped on a crack and almost ate it. Hahaha. I'm trying to decide what I should take next semester. Right now I'm deciding between hip-hop dance and breakdancing. I used to take breakdancing and I liked it. However I really like working out in the middle of the day, and breakdancing and hip-hop are likely at night. But then I won't have to miss it all the time because of my planetary-responsibilities like I've had to do with ballet this semester.
You know what's a great word? Syzygy. It's the alignment of planets (I think usually it has to be at least three). Generally it just means the alignment or correlation of anything, but it's used most for planets. It's also a great hangman word, and the shortest word in the English language with three y's. That one goes out to sjcswank, who appreciates words.
My friend Seth was little sick over the break so they gave him some anti-biotics. The night before Thanksgiving, he swallowed one of these pills and then went to bed...
The pill did not go all the way to his stomach. Instead, it got stuck in his esophagus part of the way down and opened there. Whatever was inside began to burn its way through the wall of the esophagus. He awoke to intense pain that he thought must be heart burn or something, but it didn't go away and it was suddenly incredibly painful to eat and drink. Good morning, Thanksgiving. Seth forced himself to eat Thanksgiving food, but the pain did not subside, and only got worse as he returned to Providence and got back to work. He went and saw the doctor who refered him to another doctor, who told him he had to get an endoscopy, where they put him under and feed a little camera on a long hose down his throat. They found FOUR ULCERS. FOUR HOLES in his ESOPHAGUS. Apparently the sides of the pill had burned two holes in his esophagus and then shifted a little bit (perhaps when he woke up?) and burned two more holes in the esophagus before finally becoming dislodged and going to his stomach. He has pictures.
But luckily they're getting better already, so he should be able to eat soon. Not soon enough, considering he hasn't eaten a real meal since Friday of last week. He's been surviving on a diet of pain and Ensure. He's been flying high on pain meds since Tuesday but he made Wednesday's test today anyway so he wouldn't get behind.
Aren't you glad that you aren't Seth?
Moral of the story:
1. Take your pills with enough water.
2. Don't take your pills directly before bed.
3. As the sunscreen song says, "The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday." Yeah. Like who is going to lie awake hoping that his anti-biotics don't burn holes in his esophogus? But it happens.
Ugh, I just looked up "ulcer" on google image, and that is just gross. Thank heavens Seth's is inside his body where we can't see it.
The Balancing Act
Tuesday. 11.28.06 9:06 pm
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!)
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......
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.
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.
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"
Here's my version:
Abstinence: Do it for the Neighbors.
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