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. 12.11.05 6:31 pm
I'm going to have three day weekends next semester and no class til 2:45pm on Mondays. Can we say, "woot"?
I don't have time for these thoughts
Saturday. 12.10.05 6:34 pm
It's crunch time, and every time I think of all the things I have to do before Wednesday I feel sick. This morning I went and saw the Chronicles of Narnia, which was a bad idea considering how much work I had, but it put me in a very sober mood which has been good for my productivity. I won't give anything away, but there is a part in the movie at the very beginning when the mother is sending her four children away from London to the countryside so that they'll be safe from the Luftwaffe, and they go to the train station to put the children on the train. Peter, the oldest boy, is about 16 or 17 at the time, he looks a little younger so I can't say, but the actor was about 17. His father left for the war some time ago and the only thing they have left of him is a photograph. They don't know whether or not he is still alive. He's walking through the train station and he sees another boy, about his age but a little older, wearing the uniform of a soldier.
You can see for just that instant the guilt and shame that surfaces in his mind... the feeling that he should be wearing that uniform too, that he should be fighting alongside his father for the future of England. Of course he can't, of course he must take care of his sisters and brother in the absence of his parents, and of course he's just a little too young... he can't break so many of these expectations at once and go and volunteer for the army. It might kill his mother outright, just the idea. But he feels it. The responsibility. So when he gets to Narnia and he is asked to fight a war that isn't his, when he sees how many are counting on him and how evil the enemy is, he must finally face this fear, this desire to run away from the fight which is somehow always muddled with responsibility he feels to take care of his family at home and to not risk making them suffer by recklessly getting himself killed.
It made me think about how different that generation was from ours. First of all, if Peter saw the soldier walking through the train station, he probably wouldn't feel guilty for not joining him. No one makes anyone feel guilty for not joining the army anymore. On the contrary, some people make others feel guilty for joining the army, as if they're being so stupid and careless and not thinking about their families just to run off and fight in some stupid and pointless war. I wonder if they would still feel that way if the Luftwaffe was dropping bombs on their houses? I wonder if it is a question of differing circumstances or differing world views that separates our generation from that one? But let us for a moment travel to Narnia. There, the forces of good and evil are caught up in a struggle that seems, on the surface, to have nothing whatsoever to do with the sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve. The war in Narnia is, as they say, "Not Our War". The children have many reasons to simply back out of the war and go home, as they may have were it not for Edmund. But in the end they had a choice, and they didn't back out. They stayed, because they saw the people that they were helping, they heard their cries for freedom, they saw the as the land through which they walked turned from a barren wasteland into a flowering forest from the sheer power of hope they brought with them. Even though it wasn't really their conflict, even though they had to risk their lives for people a world away whom they didn't know. Even though they had a million valid excuses.
So how different is Iraq from Narnia? Instead of a 100 year winter, they have suffered decades of war. Instead of ice there is sand, and scorching desert sun. Instead of a White Witch (who the good people of the Earth accidentally helped a long time ago out of kindness and naivete, by the way) there was a cruel dictator, who, instead of turning his subjects into stone, gassed them with deadly agents from which no lion's breath can return them to life. Many years have passed, and most people who come are quickly frightened away. The most the outside world has done is to stop the witch's progress at the lampost.
Now there we are, a shining light of hope amid this 100 year winter. Where we go we bring water to ease the drought, food to fight the famine, chocolate for the children, hope to cure the most insidious of all ailments: despair.
That does not mean that the whole country will welcome our coming. Many people threw their lot in with the queen long ago. For every fawn and centaur there is a snow tiger and an orge that chose the other side. Some of them may be misguided, some of them were tricked, no doubt. But many of them believe that their cause is just, and want nothing more than the death of hope and the return of winter in their land, no matter the cost.
So what is our role in all of this? Will we welcome the children home with harsh words and reprimands and tell them that there comes a time when a child must stop pretending and tell the truth? Will we welcome them back into our world as heros? Will we say, "Why fight a war in Narnia when there is a war right here in England?" Will we believe the White Witch when she tells us that she is the rightful ruler over Narnia and we have no place interfering? Will we believe the children when they tell us how much Narnia needs us? Will we accompany them there through the wardrobe at the risk of our own lives?
It's up to us, isn't it. It's always up to us. A simple decision, made in an instant:
What are you willing to die for?
So this conversation, coupled with my recent lamentings about graduate school and the course of my life in the years ahead, makes me feel like a worthless sack of nothing because I'm sitting here and other people are going out there and fighting for something that is worth fighting for. Things of that proportion don't happen very often in the field of Planetary Geology. Yeah, I have plenty of good excuses, but I know very well that if this were World War II and I was a boy, it would be expected of me to go Over There, and I would sign up right away. But nobody expects it at all, everyone rather doesn't expect it and would be quite upset if that's what I happened to go and do.
But the themes that that movie stirred up are old ones that live inside me all the time. It was a story of great courage and sacrifice and honor.
And nobody writes stories like that anymore.
Wednesday. 12.7.05 7:48 pm
So the other day I was in class and I was talking about a topographic line with my professor (you know, when you look at a topographic map and it tells you the elevation of everything). We were talking about some geologically related thing about a plane intersected the surface at however many places according to the orientation of the plane and the current topography. So I'm like, "Ok, let me get this straight. Let's say that we are out here, standing on the hillside, and we get out our barometer... wouldn't we still see that we're at exactly 2400ft?" and this guy and the prof start laughing, "hahaha, a barometer, hahaha. If you want to know the weather!"
At this point, Seth, bless his heart, steps in on my behalf.
"But wait a minute, can't you use a barometer to find your altitude?"
and the other guy goes, "Try an altimeter!" and then the prof goes, "oh well, yeah, I guess most altimeters are based on barometric pressure." and I'm like YEAH, they ARE. So don't you start laughing at me when I say barometer... I was being a smart ass, not a dumbass. Besides, determining the weather based on a barometer is kind of even less intuitive than determing your altitude, obviously. If you're at higher altitudes, the pressure is going to be lower. If a cold front is moving in, the pressure is going to be higher... or is it? Low pressure systems accompany things like hurricanes and stuff.... you don't even remember, do you??? But altimetry by means of barometry... not that hard. GARGGG. ASU is Arizona State University. And they have one of the best programs in the nation in Planetary Geology, along with Brown, Arizona University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Ahhh... ASU... it would put me in Tempe, AZ, but who cares! I would be studying Europa! and who doesn't want to study Europa! ok, so maybe a lot of people. That's like the guy in South Africa who was like, "Everyone knows that the first thing you think when you're building a road is drainage, drainage, drainage!"
Only I didn't really know that at all, because I've never built a road! haha!
ok, now my keys are lost, I'm going to go find them.
Tuesday. 12.6.05 3:45 pm
All I want is to get into ASU for graduate school. If I got into ASU I could study the moons of Jupiter, especially Europa, I could study sand dunes, I could wander the earth looking for moon/planet earth analogs. I could live in the Southwest, I could die happy. Please, I have to get into ASU.
Sunday. 12.4.05 3:12 pm
man, I used to have an interest rating of 10 and now it's way lower. I guess that's what happens when you only have four votes and somebody isn't feeling the love. That's why the journal has to stay secret and unadvertized forever!!
Rain is different everywhere
Saturday. 12.3.05 3:30 pm
The drive from Nairobi to our camp in the Maasai Mara was about nine hours. We left Mombasa at 4 in the morning, took a one hour flight to Nairobi, and then set out in the largest garbage-truck-like buses the world has ever seen. The windows were wide and un-closeable for the best possible viewing of the savanna animals. For the ride out there, they served as wind tunnels and opportunities to call out to people as we passed by.
If one were to drive the distance from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara in the United States, I would be surprised if it took you more than 4 hours. We spent a great deal of time stuggling over rugged roads, stopping, and winding about. We saw some ostrich and topi and a carcass of a zebra that lay half-eaten by the side of the road. No one ever moves things or tidies on the African savanna. It turns out that nature does a pretty good job of that herself, providing you give her generous enough a time scale.
The sun began to set and there were giraffes in the distance, silhouetted against the purple sky. One fellow in our group, Jake, had always dreamed of coming to Africa and taking the perfect picture of a giraffe silouetted against the sunset. He wasn't quite sure if it would actually happen, if Africa actually looked like what all the movies had always advertised. But the Maasai Mara does not disappoint. It is not flat like many grasslands, it has rolling hills and plateaus much like southern and western Colorado. The large animals in the movies are ubiquitous. The classic picture of Africa with the animals against the sun is somewhat easily obtained as there are many ridges and on each a motley gathering of animals waits, patiently grazing until the sun begins to set.
Almost as soon as Jake got his photograph, we saw the rains come down in Africa. And down and down they came, sweeping across the grasslands as cornflower curtain, growing deeply purple-grey as evening turned into night, thick, intense rain, come to drown us in Life, come to make us clean.
We left our things in our tents, chosen haphazardly without knowledge of where any tent stood with respect to the rest of camp. Once settled, we dashed through the swimming drops to a covered wooden structure, sturdily made with chicken wire screens and small bright rustic lanterns of warm yellow light. They'd prepared us dinner, it was leek soup. It was thick and steaming and they ladled it into our simple round bowls as often as we held them out. That's all we had for dinner that night, really, after more than 18 hours of travel, but that's all we needed. I believed that I had never eaten such a delicious meal and feared that I might never eat such a meal again. Leek soup. I got the recipe from the cook, it's like any recipe you might find in a cook book in America, only the Africans use water and the Americans use milk. In America there is an abundance of milk. In subsaharan Africa, there is an abundance of water. What separates this water from water anywhere else in the world? I suppose it is the singular quality that it gives African leek soup, I should say.
We fell asleep to the sound of the laughter of Americans (one of the most lovely sounds in the world, in my opinion) and one of the other most lovely sounds in the world, the African rain.
Saturday. 12.3.05 3:21 pm
The road had been washed away in a recent rain, but the landscape in every direction was parched as if any rain that had fallen here had been drawn out quickly through a straw. There were several sad, weary cones that warned cars away from the unstable left side of the road, and a large, bent road sign reading "FLOODED" that lay in the gully where the water had elected to leave it for the sake of irony.
My first thought when I woke up this morning:
Thursday. 12.1.05 11:19 am
"Is he a good cyclist?
Well, do you mean statistically, or metamorphically?"
I'm not going to pretend that makes any sense at all. Just shows how twisted my brain is.
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