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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The Profile

Age. 36
Gender. Female
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
School. Other
» More info.
The World

The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:


Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
My hero(s)
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER

Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
The Schedule
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Looking Backwards
Wild Swans
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Geomorphology
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
Cube Route
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Armageddon's Children
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
Crucial Conversations
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Dandelion Wine
To Sir, With Love
London Calling
Watership Down
The Invisible
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Host
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Help
Zion Andrews
The Unit
Quantum Brain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
Memento Nora
The Name of the Wind
The Terror
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Libyan Sands
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Calculating God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Martian
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre � la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Red Mars
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
A Gentleman in Russia
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism
Seneca: Letters from a Stoic
The Juanes Module

Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
Life and how I suck at it
Friday. 4.7.06 1:40 am
So there was this guy in my class. Kind of a big guy, not gonna lie, not good eating habits, either. He'd sit down around 9:35 and drink a 20oz rootbeer and eat a tray of mini doughnuts, he'd take the hunger that was brewing in your empty stomach and make it so you weren't hungry for lunch. He was always complaining about feeling crappy, not loudly complaining, really, but just telling the prof "I really just don't feel well right now, I'm going to leave" and then he'd leave. We were all aghast at how he'd just get up and walk right out of class. We didn't know how he was going to graduate seeing as he often didn't come to class at all and we didn't know him from adam til he showed up sometime last year saying how he was going to graduate with us. On our field trip we couldn't get to the outcrop we were looking for because he couldn't climb the steep trail anymore. He was terribly winded and walked very slowly. Mike said something in the kindest way possible about had he ever considered getting into better shape or taking better care of himself so that he'd be better able to do stuff like this. For a geologist, it's a bit of a requirement to be able to walk around in the field. In sum, we all judged him. We didn't talk about him behind his back, we didn't call him out on his coming to class anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour late (for an 1:15 long class) every day... but we did look at each other incredulously from time to time, and I did judge him, I'll admit that I did, in my mind. Every day.

He isn't such a bad guy when you talk to him and he's got a lot of geologic knowledge stored in his mind, but the quality of his work, the tardiness of his arrival to class, the apparent lack of respect he had for his professors and his body... I judged him silently for all of these things, perhaps more than anybody.

Then the other day we were talking about some visiting alums and how well we'd known them before they graduated and whether we'd had classes with them. He had, he said. They were actually in his year, so he had class with them freshman year, but since he took that year of medical leave, they graduated ahead of him and he hadn't had classes with them since. He returned to school, he said, just in time to see them graduate.

Medical leave?

Was that why I hadn't ever met him before this year? Was it possible that he hadn't just shown up in the department with a year and a half to finish a much more demanding major and declared to the department that he was going to graduate this year whether they thought it was possible or not, like the story went? Of course... that's why he doesn't appear in our freshman book....

He said he had a terrible headache. He was thinking he might just leave lab. But my curiousity had been piqued. Medical leave for what? I said, "Oh, that's terrible, headaches are the worst. Do you get them a lot?"

And he said that he did get them a lot, all the time.
"From what?"
"oh, it's just from the chemo."

...the ...chemo...

"How often do you have to... do the..."
"the what? Oh, the chemo? It's every other day. It's a pill. It's terrible."

and then he did a little more work quietly, and then he left.
The headaches? The not coming to class? The inability to do strenuous activity? The weight gain? It all fell into place the way the last five puzzle pieces fall into a thousand piece puzzle. And it was one of those times where you catch yourself in the act of being a real asshole. When you've been skating along thinking of yourself as a nice person when in reality you have a long, long way to go.
I was reminded of a quote that I hold dear to my heart but don't always read often enough:

"To know all is to understand all, and this leaves no room for judgment and condemnation."

--Clarence Darrow

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The Visiting Continues
Saturday. 4.1.06 1:41 am
The visit was excellent. There was a German with a red cowboy shirt and black leather pants and a mullet. There was another German with a large handlebar mustache that extended several inches beyond the edge of his face. He wore a cowboy-type belt. The Russians were fabulous. Sasha was old and peered through his glasses and talked about back when we were the Soviet Union. He’s been there since the beginning of Soviet exploration of Venus. Misha was a little bit more foreboding at first, but turned out to be jovial and kind. Sasha announced to Jim that the Russians would not give their talk together as it said on my schedule, but that he got to have me first and only after he was finished he would hand me off to Misha. Once he had gotten rid of Jim, he gave me the run-down on Venus, slowly speaking in a heavy but understandable Russian accent. At one point he turned around and hushed the other students in the room insistently, telling them loudly that he was giving me a very interesting lecture on the planet Venus and since I was a prospective student they all wanted me to come there and they should let him give his lecture in peace so that I could hear it and I would come.
I really enjoyed the company of the department geophysicist, whose name I always forget. We had a lovely conversation about superplumes in the mantle and whether or not they were responsible for resurfacing the planet Venus. I asked him whether he believe in a one or two-layered model of convection for the Earth. He had to think about it, he didn’t really know. We talked about the sequestering of neodymium 142 somewhere in the lower mantle, as is evidenced by its absence in crustal rocks. I am, of course, of the opinion that one-layer mantle convection is preposterous, but I’m just an undergraduate, after all. He made a compromise and said that he thought it had layers of convection, but just not in the places that we thought they were, or maybe just not in the traditional way people have always said that we have layers. He was charming and his office was a mess. His hopefulness reminded me of Bob from Wyoming, the lone student of Io. Sometimes astronomers and geophysicists get lonely, because they don’t have anyone to talk to who speaks their language… who thinks the same way that they do. Jim likes mapping areas and deciding their geological history based on which features overlap and how many craters are in the area. Eric is like him in that way.
After a really long day of talking to geologists, we retired to Jim’s house “for a drink before dinner”. Jean-Baptist, the visiting Frenchman who flatly refuses to be called "Johnny" by the Russians, volunteered to drink “wadka” with them, which is, according to Jim, almost always a mistake. But the Russian insisted that if we did not drink “wadka” with them, in their country of Russia this meant that we did not respect them and that we were not really friends with them. “Look at me I am drinking by myself! A real friend would never let someone drink by himself.” They gave me a shot of wadka in a tiny shot glass with the flag of Finland on it and taught me how to drink it in the proper Russian fashion. They offered me and the Frenchman more wadka, but I told them I only respected them as much as I respected the country of Finland and the Frenchman told them that he only really drank wine since he was a Frenchman, and they accepted both excuses with a round of laughter and another round of wadka for just themselves. Jim told us that he usually had to prep his students before a trip to Moscow with a warning about just this sort of Russian tomfoolery. They’ll start by offering you just a shot, in honor of your coming to Russia and in honor of it being your first time and being an American and the fact that they brought their best wadka for just this purpose and friendship and welcome it is difficult to say no. However, if you do not say no, it is VERy difficult to stop there. From here on out they call upon the basic tenets of human interaction- friendship, respect, loyalty, custom, tradition, good international relations, or anything else that crosses their minds. In order to decline the offer of a Russian, you have one of two options: First, as soon as you arrive at the bar, you can order a beer and drink at least half of it right away. Then, when the offer of wadka comes, you can express your dismay, but explain that you cannot possibly mix vodka and beer. This is something that a Russian can understand. The only other way is to tell them some Russian phrase I forget “preveosky” or something, which means, “If I start, I cannot stop.” This does not make sense to anyone besides the Russians. After the wadka and the California rolls we used “traditional Russian” chasers, we went off to a pub for more drinks. I decided that the vodka challenge was quite enough for a prospective student to take on, so here I opted for a glass of water with a lemon. I added a “for now” on the end of my order to deflect questions concerning whether or not I would have a beer. By the time I didn’t ever order a beer, they probably would be at a point where they wouldn’t notice anymore.

We waited in the pub interminably, trying to get seated. I had a burger and it was delicious, but charred on the outside. Jim regaled us with tales of Moscovian cockroaches, the most numerous cockroaches in all the world. Misha told us of the field camp he went to in Siberia. He was the cook for the people at the camp, so he had to lug around all of his pots and pans to their camp site. Once there he put all the pots and pans away in a cupboard and closed the cupboard. The following day he opened the door to find that every single pot and pan was covered with cockroaches so completely that you couldn’t even see the surface of the implements. As Misha said, “So thick I could not see through them!” So he shook them off and cooked breakfast because “what else could he do?”
Jim told us about a little brewery Sasha had taken him to one of the first times he visited the USSR. It was a little independent brewery and it had been shutdown for a while because of the government. The government people were watching over it now, and Sasha told Jim that he was an Estonian brewmaster who had come to learn the superior techniques of the Soviets to bring back to his lowly country of Estonia. There was only one rule for this farce: Jim couldn’t say a word. So they went into the brewery for a personal tour. They came upon the gigantic copper vats used for the actual brewing and Jim peered down into the vats. He wanted to know what was in them, because there seemed to be a layer of brown still at the bottom even though the vats had been emptied. He conveyed this to Sasha, who asked the guide to shine his light down into the vats. He did… and as it turned out, the vat was full of cockroaches. Millions upon millions of cockroachs!!

Apparently Jim tells these stories about the cockroaches in Russia all the time. Sasha has to retaliate by telling a story about when he first visited Houston and there were all sitting around in the hotel room when a giant Texan cockroach went strolling across the floor (and everything is bigger in Texas). “Aha!” cried Sasha, “There are cockroaches in America! You cannot make fun of me anymore!” and Jim said, “oh, Sasha, look, it is a cockroach you have brought from Moscow with you!”

One time Jim had brought a famous Russian scientist to visit Houston, and he put him up in a really nice hotel. He brought him in and the man went into the restroom, and then came out and said, “there is no water, the water doesn’t turn on” and Jim said, “that’s ridiculous” and went in and tried the faucet and the water still didn’t turn on and he said, “I guess there’s no water!” and the man said appreciatively, “Ah! Just like Russia!!” Jim: it was really embarrassing.

They kept on joking with the Frenchman and offering him wine and being completely perplexed when he didn’t want any. They seemed to think that all Frenchmen thought about was wine and drinking it. He proved them right when he was completely horrified when Sasha poured water into his wine during dinner. The Frenchman said, “You pour water in your wine?” and Sasha said, “Yes!” and the Frenchman said, “NON!” and Sasha said, “Yes!” and the Frenchman said, “NON!” Sasha told him that in ancient Greece only slaves drank wine without water in it. The Frenchman said if that was the case then he would be a slave. Sasha poured some more water in the wine.

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Some Links
Saturday. 3.25.06 7:56 pm
Some links that are awesome:

Let's do this
The above link was stolen from the profile of Sam Miner, inc.

The Weather Channel does Semester at Sea Spring '05!

Osama Bin Laden is Found... Inside Each One of Us


now that is what I call soccer

Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons

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Ah, the French pop musique
Wednesday. 3.22.06 8:12 pm
Tous les garçons que je vois me demandent
Pourquoi je suis toute seule ?
C'est pourtant claire
Leurs mensonges me dérangent
Je sais ce qu'ils me veulent

Et si l'un d'eux s'approche pour se la jouer façon "Dom Juan"
J'lui réponds en souriant

Moi j'préfère rester toute seule
Sous leurs airs innocents
Ce sont de vrais brigands
Quoiqu'ils me veuillent
Moi je préfère rester toute seule

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It's Raining
Friday. 3.17.06 7:23 pm
Once upon a time, it was St. Patrick's Day. And it was raining. It was raining so hard that the street outside Ranor's room became a river, and Zanzibar could not leap over it, especially not wearing the tjmaxx jeans, which she can only just fit into when it's track season and she's in reasonable shape. She had to go to track today, despite the pouring rain, and run outside with the sprinters. There was extra impetus to run at exactly the same pace as your peers- if you fell behind you would get dirty water kicked into your face. After track practice was over it was time to go home, but she didn't go home at all. She put on her sweatshirt and opened her red umbrella and disappeared over the hill like a ghost. There were no buildings in that direction, she should have probably taken a circuitous route so that everyone would have thought she was on her way home and not wondered why she was drifting away into the forest. But at this point in her life she does not really mind if they think she is a bit off... will it make them treat her differently? She has balanced the world order by offering to take Brooke's little visiting boyfriend to the airport tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning. Brooke is astonished that she is willing to help, but what nobody knows is that she greatly enjoys driving to the airport, with a little stretch of California highway and a little bit of regaton and a little bit of baggage and goodbye and changing lanes and new starts.
In the forest there is a farm. She has heard that sometimes ex-prisoners will stay here overnight when they are avoiding their parole. To the college, the farm is an embarrassment, an eye sore, a breeding ground for trouble, a dangerous place to be at night, a haven for hippies and compost and whatever-it-is-they-do-there. In the rain, the farm is beautiful. There are cactus gardens and tomato patches. Someone has painted signs labeling all of the plants. In the last year or two the farm has changed from an unorganized mess to a neat, busy garden, full of projects and brimming with new life. Someday the ugly framework that arches over the little dug-out seating area will be weighed down with grapes, or roses, or whatever the twining vines become when spring comes and they come alive. The archways that take you from vegetable patch to vegetable patch will flower and spill out over the pathway. The earth dome house will be finished, strange structure that it is, and in the pouring rain the hippie ex-prisoners might find a little bit of dry space beneath its earthen eaves.

The street outside Ranor's room was a river. She could not cross it. Not in the tjmaxx jeans. She saw a boy leap across the river in a single bound and run to get his car. He backed the car into the river, the water swelling halfway up the tires in waves and eddies. His girlfriend held an umbrella, she stepped daintily from the curb into the car, and they were gone.

Zanzibar held on to the back of an electric green VW Bug and stepped on its license plate holder, just enough of a stepping stone to get her across the river. If the water gets any worse the little car might not be able to help her on her way back.

Now, in the depths of this old building, she thinks about the world. It's been a while since she's thought about the world. Usually she thinks about it constantly. Now she thinks constantly about her research. Her research, her research. Isn't she studying the world? Isn't that what geology is all about? Perhaps. But perhaps the more you study the world, in all of its scientific glory, the less you see it as a whole, the less connected you are to it, the less you feel its quiet, steady breathing in your heart. You might spend 5 hours straight in a library, reading about the earth, but when you emerge you might not even have realized that it was raining and while you were gone Color as you remembered it had been born anew. You might know what the ratio of uranium 235 to uranium 238 is in the universe, because it is always constant. But you might not realize that the night blooming jasmine is in season, and if you take a walk through the south part of campus you can breathe in beauty instead of air.

Deep in the hallways of academia, everyone is doing something important. It is all based on a good, solid knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. There are power point presentations, there are whirring machines, there are figures so complicated that even the person who made them is only pretending to see their significance. One moment you are on the moon, the next on Mars, the next moment you are at the bottom of the Mariana trench. Extremophiles live there. They only have one cell, but they are more important than your neighbor. You know everything about extremophiles. You have never met your neighbor. You have worked at this university for 30 years, but you have never set foot in the psychology building. The Women's Building is nearby, there is a story behind its name but you have never bothered to learn it. You do know the percent irregularity of Thorium on the moon.

There is plenty of room for genius here. Plenty of room for colleagues, and Wine Hour, and abstracts, and computer simulated numerical models. There is plenty of space for conjectures and hypotheses and just one more wet lab where each student has his own hood. There is plenty of room for late nights and squiggly lines on a graph and regressions and trying routines just one more time. There is room for failure, oh yes, room for running out of time, room for despair, room for sitting alone for hours under a fluorescent light. There is room for tightness in the chest, room for books, so many books. You are sure that no one has ever had the occasion to read them besides you.

Ostensibly, there is no room for God, here. That is what many of this place's inhabitants would like to think. Ah, but God, He is a tricky one. It turns out He's been here all along. It turns out when you are reading your concentrations of isotopes, when you are plotting your abundances, God is there all the while, watching you with interest, like a playwright who is eager to see how the audience finds his greatest work.

But there is no room for Love, here. There is no room for magic. There is no room for wasting hours taking internet quizzes. There is no room for the samba. There is no room for hair-care products. There is no room for Coca-cola commercials where everyone is on roller blades. There are no roller blades, here. There is no room for corporal reality, realizing that you have a body and you can move and feel and exist and you don't have to figure out why. You must always figure out why, here, always.

And yet, why does Zanzibar like to be here rather than anywhere else? Why does she love this dark hallway and the cases and cases of microscopes? Why does she stay here by herself and open cases upon cases of rocks with their formulas written on convenient yellow cards, all the formulas you would ever or never need to know....?

I do not know why. It is a mystery that I will let remain a mystery. It is a mystery that I will allow to fall into the river of rainwater that flows under the electric green VW bug and down a drain which is clearly marked in blue paint to tell you that it goes straight to the sea.

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My poor, poor thesis.
Monday. 3.13.06 3:07 pm
I think I need to sit alone in a room with my thesis and cry. For a long time.

But I can't, because I need all that time to write my thesis.


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The prize for the most ridiculous PhD robes goes t
Wednesday. 3.8.06 1:45 am
I'm full tilt into writing my thesis. I spent all day in the library on Sunday (all night til 1 am in the lab), Monday morning I spent talking on the phone about thesis, today is Tuesday and I spent every minute I had doing thesis that I wasn't in class and track. It's 11:47pm now and I'm thinking about turning in for the night. I have a huge math assignment due tomorrow and I've got to be awake enough tomorrow to get it done before lunch.

I'm starting to think that some of the literature is wrong. I wonder if the people writing it know just as little as I do about what they are doing, because sometimes it seems like it.

In other news, I was accepted to Colorado School of Mines for a graduate program in economic geology. The guy who would be my advisor said that he would be out of touch because he was taking a group of grad students to the middle of the Amazon jungle to search for semi-precious gems.

hmm..... that could be me.......

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The Steeple Chase Pit
Friday. 3.3.06 11:32 pm
Today Coach Kirk pulled the plug on the steeple chase pit, which had been filled with recent rain and had even lured an snowy white egret to come and wade in its cool waters. I didn't even know such birds lived anywhere near Los Angeles. It was quite a sight to see, with its S-shaped neck and long spindly yellow legs, enjoying the steeple chase pit with cool and surreal elegance. He said it posed a danger for little kids. He didn't want some little kid running about near the track to drown himself in the three or four feet of clear, brimming water. He opened the plug in the ground and stuck a long metal pole into the brown murky soil-water, which, when he pulled sharply, opened the underground drain and began to suck water out of the steeple chase pit. I could hear the rushing through a grate on the field.

There was an earthworm in the pool of water. I didn't know how it got there, but it was lying along the pit's inclined floor, slowly making its way in worm-like fashion towards the bottom of the pit. Do earthworms have lungs, I wondered? They always said that the reason earthworms came out during the rain was because their holes were filling with water and the worms were trying to avoid drowning. Was this earthworm drowning now? How long can an earthworm hold its breath? The earthworm felt out its next move, head leading, body following, tail feeling back and forth as if vaguely regretting not going the opposite way. If the earthworm only knew, it would follow the sentiments of its tail, because that was the way up to dry land. The other way only led to deeper water and a strong current from the drain, which could mean death to an earthworm deprived for so long of air. I thought for a moment about reaching into the pit and scooping the earthworm out, but I didn't, because I had long sleeves on and there was almost two feet of water between me and the earthworm. I didn't want my sleeve to get wet. The worm's movement were getting a little more weary. Was it drowning? Do earthworms have lungs? Should I save it? I knew I couldn't hold my breath for as long as I had been watching the earthworm. The water level was slowly dropping. All it needed was to wait a few moments and the water would subside and leave it on dry land again. It stopped there on at the gnarled boundary between the flat bottom and the inclined floor of the steeple chase pit. It looked tired. It lifted its head and scooted one more wormly scoot down the incline in the wrong direction. Then it paused. It paused, and then it couldn't hold on any longer, and the current vortex of the draining pipe swallowed it into blackness. There could be nothing awaiting that earthworm in such a drain pipe but death.

In the shallower water the pipe formed a little whirlpool that momentarily caught the floating corpse of a honey bee, one of the multitude we have found dead and dying around the track in recent days. It stirred it round and round as if it were alive once more, but only for a moment, then it returned to floating in funeral silence, the only other witness to the earthworm's demise. Could I have prevented the earthworm's death? What if someone who could have prevented my death chose not to... because her sleeve might get momentarily wet? The bottom of the steeple chase pit gleamed quietly. It was now safe and dry.

I went back over to where track practice was started. Kirk jokingly asked me if I'd made absolutely sure that the steeple chase pit had really drained. But I wasn't really in the mood for joking.

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