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. 7.9.06 1:26 pm
Yesterday I went with some family friends to Hamburg. We had a lovely time and went on a double-decker bus tour of the city. The audio guide was ridiculous, as many of those things are, and niether matched the buildings we were going by nor told us anything particularly insightful. I did, however, learn a lot about the history of the city with respect to its involvement in the Hanseatic league and its large scale distruction during the WWII. It was also burnt almost completely to the ground in 1862, and suffered two years of the black death back in the days when the black death was around.
The Hanseatic League was a league of kingdoms and independent cities that banded together to form a free-trade league way back in the day. This association brough unprecedented wealth to the city and it grew in size and reputation. The harbor in Hamburg is GIGANTIC, with the craned necks of the container-movers dotting the landscape as far as the eye can see. It was much to my surprise, then, when I remembered that Hamburg isn't even located on the sea! It is instead located on the river Elbe and the river Alster. The river Elbe is so wide and deep that it provides the container ships a shipping lane that goes right into the heart of Germany. The placement of this harbor was also a convenient way to cut out the Dutch and Belgium merchants, whose harbors at Amsterdam, Bruges, and Antwerp were the only other gateways into the Northern European market. Fittingly, this caused quite a quarrel to develop between the Hamburgers and the Dutch (the Dutch being a major world power at the time, especially as merchants) and they had many conflicts and disagreements, until finally the Dutch granted Hamburg recognition as an independently governed state and Hamburg forgave the Dutch a large debt in return. Right near the harbor is the warehouse district, which is actually quite beautiful as it is built on a series of canals so that goods could be brought directly to the harbor. This system of canals and its location at the confluence of two rivers makes Hamburg the city with the most bridges in the world. It is sometimes called the Venice of Northern Europe. I like it because all of the warehouses are red brick and most of the bridges are made of iron- it reflects exactly the time this part of the city was built (the 1800s, during the industrial revolution) and the mindset of the people who live here (totally northern European, business centered, practical, austere in some respects)
When Germany came together as a state, Hamburg was able to keep its status as an independently governing city, but soon this became a problem, as Hamburg had kept its membership with the Hanseatic League and was thus a duty-free port that neither collected tariffs nor passed them on to their confederation leaders. After some tension, a compromise was reached, and the city of Hamburg became a taxable part of the German Empire while the port remained a free and duty-free port, allowing it to still compete quite well with the Dutch ports. This is when the warehouse district was rebuilt after the fire in 1862 in the style that we see it today. People wanted to put as much as they could on the port itself, since it was a duty-free zone, so many buildings rest on thousands of pine and oak pillars instead of solid rock.
From its entry into the Hanseatic League until WWI could be called a golden era in Hamburg's history (which was a long time) After WWI (still called The Great War on the audio guide), Hamburg fell into a deep depression because part of the Treaty of Versailles stated that the great port city, the Gateway to the World as it was called by then, had to give up its entire merchant fleet as part of its "disarmament" and retribution to the winning French. Sometimes you hear about things in the Treaty of Versailles and you have no trouble reasoning out why Germany started World War II. In WWII it lost 40% of its inhabitants.
Anyway, we made our way around the city, saw the train station (called one of the most beautiful in the world) and the gigantic statue of Bismarck, unifier of the German states, which looks like something out of a science fiction novel the way it towers over the city. We went to a place called the Tower Bar, which sits at the top of a hotel by the port and looks out over the city. Only from here can you truly see the extent of the harbor, it is amazing. The Wagners bought me an expensive drink, I chose one called "the Orangina" with Orangina, something like peach snapps, orange juice, triple-sec, and gin. Anne said that I had to be careful not to fly away. How was I to know it would be so strong! Drinking with your parents friends has to be the most delicate operations in the world, so I tried to take it slowly, but I hadn't eaten for many hours and the drink was big and strong.
Properly soused, we weaved down the stairwell and took pictures of Kaiser Bismarck as we searched for a place to sit and watch the football match. My two companions, being french, were against whomever was playing Germany, which tonight was the Portuguese. We had very little hope of finding in this large German city a place that would be very receptive to such leanings. I was for Germany, of course, but in the spirit of companionship, I agreed to cheer for Portugal if we could find a safe place. They joked that we could simply go to a Portuguese restaurant and we pretended to look about for one of this description. I haven't ever even seen a Portuguese restaurant in all my life, so we were pretty much joking, but the joke went on all evening.
We decided to go down a street we'd seen on the bus tour which seemed to have restaurants, but we took a bit a wrong turn and went down a hill and into a neighborhood, running right into a restaurant... called the Bienvenuto. In short, a Portuguese restaurant. A look around confirm that in fact we had stumbled into an entire block of Portuguese restaurants, so filled with fans of Portugal that they spilled out of the building and we couldn't find a seat. We were positively dazed by the number of Portguese restaurants surrounding us, but we tried to find a place to eat and there was nothing to be done, they were all full. We finally settled into a Spanish restaurant a block away because Anne asked and she speaks Spanish and looks Portuguese, and she always gets what she wants. We had delicious tapas and JJ had squid and I had the most gigantic breaded friend pork chop I've ever seen. Portugal lost, of course, as does everyone I ever cheer for, so I ended up backhandedly getting Germany to win. ;) We walked home and the whole night was filled with the sounds of horns blaring and people shouting and running about, celebrating Germany's win. To this JJ said, "aw, how sad, they are going to their small final, so sad for them" and pointed to his socks that looked like the French flag, which looked totally ridiculous with his brown loafers, which I imagine was the point.
In the main square was a lake that a man had made at somepoint for unknown reasons by damming the Alster, in the lake people sailed sailboats and peddled peddleboats. There were swans and a huge fountain up to 100ft high which looked just like the "spectacular fountain" that Phillip A and Kaitlyn and I modeled for our Modelling class. I think I'll find a picture and sent it to them. I tried to take one but we were driving by much too quickly.
Sounds of a Bremese Evening
Friday. 7.7.06 5:15 pm
I've got my things I'm good to go
You met me at the terminal
Just one more plane ride and it's done
We stood like statues at the gate
Vacation's come and gone too late
There's so much sun where I'm from
I had to give it away, had to give you away...
Today has been pondersome. I invented that word. I like it because it recalls both the idea of a day dedicated to pondering, which it was, as well as "ponderous" which might also describe my somewhat full and unwieldly day. But whatever the trials of a long day in a foreign country, this is the time of day that makes it all worthwhile. I sit in my apartment (my first apartment!), I look disinterestedly at my things, scattered about the floor. I would do well to put them in order, but I have so few things and my room is so large that I can hardly call it cluttered. No matter where I lay my things, the place always look spare; I like it. There is no air conditioning and no screens; each night means the choice between the insect-free safety of the closed room and the splendid coolness of an open one. I usually leave the window open, and the reassuring warblings of the neighbors, lives silouetted in warm golden light, drift in though the large windows along with the fine scents of the Bremish evening, which smells like clouds in perpetuity on the edge of cool rain. At dusk, which doesn't come until 10, everything is still, even the air, which at that point doesn't have any insects. A pale green of storm and pink of city color the many-hued gray of evening.
To-morrow I go to Hamburg with some friends of my parents. Friends of myself as well, I would venture. But first, I shall indulge myself a little more leaning out of the window into evening and entertaining romantic thoughts about Old Europe and her many-storied past.....
Science like hella.
Thursday. 7.6.06 2:07 pm
Today we moved forward on our model. I'm studying coccolithophorids, which form the base of the food chain in all of the world's oceans. They are a species of phytoplankton, which billions of years ago revolutionized the world by spewing out ridiculous amount of oxygen, an element that had theretofore been somewhat rare in the Earth's atmosphere. The electron hungry ions of this element can be very harmful to fragile organic matter and other kinds of molecules. Scientists say that had the earth started with oxygen in its atmosphere like there is today, life never would have arisen at all.
Coccolithophorids are unique among phytoplankton in that they construct shells around their one-celled bodies out of calcium carbonate. In fact, their remains make up all of the chalk on earth, including the white cliffs of Dover, which are a remnant of a huge bloom of coccolithophorids that died long, long ago.
Each hubcab-shaped plate is fabricated inside the single celled organism and then exported to the outside to become part of its armor.
The type I am studying is the most common, Emiliana huxleyi. It has dominated the world ecosystem for millions of years. The sheer biomass of these algae outweighs every other living thing in the ocean combined.
Anyway, these creatures synthesize a molecule called an alkenone, which some people think they use to regulate the porosity of their cell membranes. The alkenone comes in several different forms, diunsaturated, triunsaturated, and in some cases tetraunsaturated. Unsaturated just means it has a different kind of bond in some places on the chemical structure. Ranor explained the organic chemistry to me, it was great, he's the knowledgable type.
Anyway, the type of alkenone that the coccolithophorid sythesizes depends on how cold the water is around them when they are making it. This means that the record of the temperature of the sea water is captured in the alkenone ratio in the cell at the precise moment that the molecule is created. The ratio sticks even when the algae dies and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This proves to be quite useful because the ocean is covered with sediment from these "skeletons", waiting to become the chalk of the future. By digging up the sediments and knowing how old they are because of isotopes and marker fossils, we can say exactly what temperature the ocean was at that time. The kind of resolution that is possible is yearly ocean temperatures. Tracking these through time, we can see how the ocean changed and by proxy how the whole global climate changed, through millions of years.
However, there are some limitations. It was discovered experimentally that alkenones had this property of recording sea temperature, there is no physiological reason why it should be so. When scientists started to experiment with regard to this question, they found that several things affect the alkenone ratio, not just the water temperature. So how accurate is the alkenone ratio as a thermometer? Well that's just the question on everyone's mind! Well. Maybe not everyone's mind. Some people think it could still be very accurate, if we factor in the other variables that could affect it (like illumination, nutrients, strong cross currents, etc) For my part, I'm helping the great frenchman X. Giraud make a model that accurately predicts sea water temperature from alkenones, taking all of these other variables into account. In practical parlance, this means that I stare at graphs all day and try and think about what mathematical functions would best describe them. Do I think nutrients and such are related to the total number of alkenones directly? Inversely? Maybe Alkenones=1/(nutrients)^2?
This is where all that stuff you learned in pre-calculus about reading graphs comes in mighty handy. I have to make sure that my equation works--- if the nutrients go to zero, should that make the growth rate go way up, or stall? If I did it right, plants can't grow without nutrients, and taking them away should cause the growth rate to go to zero. It's complicated and my model isn't right yet. But X. and I can only wrack our brains for so long before it seems pointless. Here's where the computer comes in. We simply insert the equations I made up into a script X. wrote that has all of the things that algae are usually exposed to: surface wind, currents, upwelling of nutrients, differences in sun and darkness hours depending on latitude and time of year, etc. Basically we insert my equations into Xavier's world, hit "go" and see what happens. That's probably what I'll be doing for the rest of the week. Meaning... tomorrow. Then maybe I'll say tchuss to Bremen and go to Copenhagen!!
Of travel in faraway lands
Monday. 7.3.06 12:26 pm
I've just gotten back from my month-long adventure in Europe- and by "gotten back" I mean I've returned to where I started from in a big sort of European circle of sorts... I'm back in Bremen, Germany, my home for the next two months. It's a charming town. There doesn't seem to be any sketchy areas as of yet, and I can say that, seeing as I've walked through almost the entire city already, by choice and sometimes by chance.
And now of course I have a bunch of new friends. My favorites currently are Marcia, a very friendly and chatty Brazilian who goes to school in California; Alister, a personable and happy-go-lucky fellow from Bristol who goes to school in South Hampton;
and one more whose name I forget. There are quite a few of them so we'll see how it goes. The most dependable is of course the German, Julian, who speaks perfect English as the result of high school and college in England. He's wholesome, handsome, and helpful, if that isn't a lovely trio of traits. Pleasant manners, chivalrous, loves biking. Well bred. I've been reading a murder mystery about Victorian England, though, so I have to say things like, "well bred" and "good manners" because that's what they talk about all the time in the book.
Anyway, dinner time, tchuss!
Echoes in the Dreams of the Sensitive Plant
Thursday. 5.25.06 9:58 pm
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.
--Shelley, The Sensitive Plant
Thursday. 5.25.06 8:24 pm
So I got a cool Astro book from Brianna! There's a girl who knows me. I can't believe she's getting maaaarrrrrrried! I can't think of two people who'd be better than Briob. I wonder what people could call Rachel and Chris? Rachris? You can spell that, but can you say it? How about Rachistopher? Chrachel? ooooo, I like that one. Chrach, maybe, for short. Chrachel Wood. Robanna Havlik.
Shycen Bundgaard. Ashawnrey Craft. I don't know any other practically married people, do I? Awww there's wench! Wench and boyfriend Mike. I wonder if he'll remain boyfriend Mike or if we'll have to call him "Husband Mike" eventually. I don't even know his last name. Starts with an "n"?
I eat way too much ice cream when I come home.
Pictures of the world and such
Thursday. 5.25.06 2:04 am
So it's been a long time since I've put up pictures. I will put some up in a random and non-chronological order.
Happy Year of the Rooster!
The Taj Mahal... so tiny!
Phil the Great stops to readjust his pack high above Cape Town, South Africa
Woah, I graduated, when did that happen?
So I guess they turned out to be in chronological order.
Sunday. 5.7.06 3:40 pm
I had such a lovely day on Friday, let me tell you about it. Scott had recommended this splendid beach to me, it's called Leo Carillo, named after a famous naturalist and environmentalist. It includes a camp ground and some trails that go into the foothills, all of which are covered in a blanket of black-eyed susans and other, heather-like yellow flowers. It's about 30 miles north of Malibu.
Scott had decided to go out to the beach the day before and hide a treasure there for me and Kristina to find since he couldn't go with us to the beach (I guess some people have jobs). He went out the evening before and hid the treasure with his friend Ian from home. They made up all kinds of clues and a treasure map which they ripped and burned at the edges so that it would look more authentic. Scott said that they should have made it out of regular paper and dipped it in tea, but they made it out of a paper bag so that it was already brown. The clues were many and varied and they took us all over the place trying to find this treasure. But eventually we reached the place of the treasure and the X that used to mark the spot was gone. Apparently someone had dug up Scott's treasure and buried a half full bottle of Bud Light in its place. I had to call him several times to ask him where the treasure was until we were sure that it was gone. He was sorry that it was gone, he called back twice to say so. The treasure was apparently a pirate lunchbox full of candies and necklaces, a veritable pirate's booty! Kristina and I went and ate at a little restaurant along the coast called Neptune's Net and it was delicious. Then we went back to the beach to watch the sunset, as Scott had suggested, and it was wonderful, just as he had advertised, and then we went down to Pasadena for Cinco de Mayo and had appetizers and desserts down at the Cheesecake Factory, and then we went home. It was one of the most lovely days I've had in college, I think. :)
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