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
Thursday. 10.17.13 10:44 am
Well I was gone for two weeks in Turkey. People in the lab have been asking me about it since apparently M spent his time during my absence telling everyone that I was gone in Turkey and all of the details that he knew about my trip. My office mate said that he kept coming into our office to fret about how my lack of email contact surely translated into the fact that I had been kidnapped and beheaded by Islamo-terrorists.
Turkey was splendid. I recommend it to all of you. What I particularly liked about Turkey was that it had an extremely strong culture which was at once very different from Western culture and at the same time incredibly cultivated. On the radio there were traditional and contemporary songs, all in Turkish and with a distinctive Turkish style; on the television there were Turkish films, documentaries, sitcoms, and soap operas, reflecting the problems of ancient Turkish sultans and warriors all the way up to issues between modern Turkish couples. The museums were replete with intricate tile-work and expertly constructed textiles and metalworkings. The room holding the “crown jewels” went on and on, stretching into several rooms and then a whole wing, every artifact glittering with rubies and emeralds. I started to wonder if rubies and emeralds and diamonds were only rare because all of them were being kept here. Civilization abounded in Turkey, but the way that it manifested itself was different: heavy rugs in myriad patterns made the floor a luxurious place to dine; passengers on the all-night bus were treated to in-seat entertainment systems (with Turkish movies and music) and served tea and pastries from a small trolley every couple of hours. Luxury took the form of a Turkish bath, where, laid on a giant slab of white marble, we were given gentle scrubbings and soap massages, followed by a careful drying in fine Turkish bath towels. The most civilized part was the intense focus on human warmth and hospitality: no ‘self-check out’, no tipping expected, just a smiling and helpful person ready to attend to your every need, even if your hotel only cost 14 euros per night. The woman giving me my Turkish bath paid very careful attention to whether I had water about to drip into my eyes, or if a strand of my hair had gone astray. I felt like it did not matter what I had paid or how many services I had asked for- when I entered the Turkish bath someone loved and cared about me, with real, selfless affection, the way a mother cares for a small child. The difference between this sense of hospitality and that found in Parisian culture was shocking—I felt the way you feel when someone flicks on a light at dusk—that until the light had been turned on you hadn’t realized that you were sitting in darkness. I felt impressed the way I had been impressed by parts of China and Japan: here was a truly great cultural force, exquisitely civilized and modern, but not in a way which equated Western culture with either civilization or modernity.
In Naples I had felt a heavy and elevating sense of awe at the incredible society that had flourished in Naples several millennia ago, especially after I witnessed the orderly sewer system that had served the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. But I came away feeling as if the present-day Neapolitan people were essentially living in the ruins of this great civilization, priding themselves mostly on the accomplishments of their centuries’ old ancestors as the city fell to pieces and rubble around them.
In Turkey, by contrast, I could feel the quickening cadence of the Turkish heartbeat: I could see on every corner an enterprising merchant, an inventive shopkeeper, a person who not only recognized the greatness of the Turkish past, but who was very much invested in the greatness of the Turkish future. Even the poor street women, who in Paris would be begging, were usually selling packages of tissues: everyone in Turkey is a merchant, everyone in Turkey is trying to identify a marketplace niche and to fill it.
The society was surprisingly and pleasantly pluralistic-there were plenty of women who were veiled to various degrees, but it was perfectly suitable for any woman to wear whatever she pleased—we even saw a bevy of Russians walking around a world heritage site in bikinis, with no judgmental glances cast their way. Our host in Istanbul, Seval, was a fashionable and well-situated lawyer. She was the same age as me, unmarried but with a serious boyfriend from another country. The culture and civilization of Turkey may be exceptional, but the worries and stresses of a 29-year-old unmarried woman are universal. I had never done Couchsurfing before, but through Seval I was able to see what a gift it was to have a way to meet and experience the lifestyle of a girl like myself living in another land. Even the way she thought of geography was enlightening—Eastern Europe is mundane; St. Petersburg is just far away enough to be exotic; Kurds are not a political problem as much as they are family members, potential boyfriends, and friends.
The highlight of the trip was certainly our hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia. We got a special deal and were two of eight passengers in the balloon. From the balloon we could see the three giant volcanoes which had contributed ash to the fanciful rock formations that make up most of the landscape of Central Anatolia. We flew at dawn with dozens of other balloons and came down an hour later in a pumpkin patch (we squashed a pumpkin).
Verdict: Let Turkey into the EU.
Notes for my future novel....
Friday. 9.27.13 9:59 am
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in the cellar, but on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.
Edit: I'm going to Turkey with a guy (W), and I just found out that he was born in 1990. That's not even in the 1980s, friends.
Wednesday. 9.25.13 5:56 pm
I am out of my mind with work.
One proposal, one article, one project on the Martian winds. They all have to be ready by Friday.
I also have to prepare for my trip to Turkey, which is starting Saturday. I'm going to see some whirling dervishes. Go to a Turkish bathhouse. I'll be gone for two weeks. The last pieces are falling into place.... like today I told my boss that I'm leaving ("Great! French people fully support vacations!" he said) and tomorrow I'm getting my French residency papers sorted out so that I'll be able to come back.
Here is a sweet song that I'm into right now:
Beginnings of Stories
Sunday. 9.22.13 4:35 am
Today is the Ministry Fair and I'm supposed to promote the Writers' Club. The Writers' Club needs promoting since we currently only have three members, including me. Since I was doing this at the very last minute, I didn't have a lot of supplies--- so I went out a bought a bunch of fun-sized Lion bars (to draw the people in!) Lacking in flyers, I took what little paper I had and cut it into little strips. On one side I wrote the information about the Writers' Club, and on the other side I put "beginnings of stories" to stimulate the imaginations of potential members. Here are some of the random story beginnings I put on the papers...
(most of them I made up last night, but the starred lines are from famous novels, can you guess which ones?)
I can understand those who say they do not believe in ghosts, but they have never been in my house after midnight.
*Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
I don't think of myself as a demanding housekeeper, but I draw the line at a walrus in the living room.
I must admit that "being kidnapped by aliens" had not been the first item on my summer to-do list.
It was not without a healthy helping of trepidation that I began my first voyage into the depths of the Congo.
If a man speaks a positive word about Seamus O'Donnell, I am obliged to conclude that he has never met him.
*It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
"It's called a flux capacitor."
I dropped the anvil off of the Eiffel Tower, with just enough horizontal velocity to clear the legs. Three down, two to go.
Today seems as good a day as any for a voyage to the Moon.
*Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
For a woman the size of a thimble, a common house spider can be a formidable enemy.
The most difficult thing about living on Mars, is, for an Englishman, the deplorable paucity of decent tea.
*The was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
I awoke on the metro in a state of total disarray.
*All of this happened, more or less.
*Call me Ishmael.
*Ships at a distance have every man's wish aboard.
*The moment one learns English, complications set in.
*Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
It was a dark and stormy night...
When I received the plain, slim envelope among my bills and publicity flyers, there was no way I could have known that its contents would change my life forever.
I can't say that I would be good at being human, but I have always secretly wanted to give it a try.
*Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.
*It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Those who think that unicorns are hard to find are clearly those who do not know where to look.
The capacity for flight has much less to do with the details of fluid mechanics than with the willful suspension of disbelief.
Like all of the most successful emperors in history, I was a fraud.
I had always supported the reintroduction of wolves, in the abstract.
Do not put aluminum foil in the microwave.
They had always said it could never be done, which was precisely why we had to do it.
You think the world is an orderly place, controlled by the clockwork laws of physics--- but you are wrong.
The summer of 2013 was one I would never forget--- the summer I lost my hand, my heart, and my husband.
*During the War of the Rebellion, a new and influential club was established in the city of Baltimore in the State of Maryland.
If the world really did have an edge, it would be in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
They say that love comes when you are least looking for it-- which is why I had always remained on constant guard.
"Isn't it about time we buried your grandmother?" Grandfather said. I answered him the same way as always: "We'll have to wait 'til she's dead, Pawpaw."
Out of Time
Thursday. 9.19.13 4:24 pm
Went to my church's "Religion and Science" seminar. The dinner that went along with it was... AMAZING. Especially the mashed potatoes.
The guy gave a seminar on the "8 or 9 myths of evolution", which sort of covered all of the problems that people have with evolution and how they aren't really problems at all. Many of them were sort of "in-field" arguments, like whether mass extinctions really did clear the field for the rise of the mammals or if the mammals were on the rise anyway, with the K-T mass extinction just speeding up the process. He was a kind of famous evolutionary paleontologist, having become famous through his work on the Burgess Shale. At the end were the typical questions you might expect, such as "As a Christian and an evolutionary biologist, how do you feel about Creationism being taught in schools?" and "You yourself are a Christian-- where do you see God in what you just said?"
His answer to the first was very direct (NO!) and the answer to the second was somewhat evasive and roundabout, in a very charming, English way. I made a couple comments which were well received, but which I don't have time to explain because I got a new Google Chrome app that limits my time on certain websites, and I only have 8 minutes left for all of Nutang, Facebook, 9gag, and YouTube combined, so I have to skedaddle.
I also planted the idea in M's head that, after the post-doc that he already decided he would like to do in America, he would then like to become a professor and live in America forever. bwahahaha. 6 minutes left. Crap. Goodbye Nutang.
The Curious Atheist
Tuesday. 9.17.13 5:29 pm
"Are you a believer?" W says, apropos of nothing.
We are sitting in le métro, occupying two bucket seats set four inches apart.
"A believer?" I ask, "like... in God?"
"Yeah," he says.
"Yeah," I say. For some reason it feels weird to say aloud.
"How does it feel?" he asks. The train arrives.
Nobody has ever asked me that question. From the look in his eye, it seems like an earnest one.
"I guess it feels... calm. Just... calm Peaceful. If I can take a Buddhist example, it makes me feel like a still pond of water. That my internal existential angst is calmed, making my internal water flat, so that it can more accurately reflect the world."
We get out of the train and onto the escalator. We move into talking about existentialism. W is the opposite of M. He brings out the pensive, Nutangian half of my persona.
W is the weirdest kind of atheist: a curious atheist. An atheist who wishes they knew what it felt like to believe in something.
In other news, my doctor told me that I should eat more vegetables, so I bought some carrots. Unfortunately you could only buy them by the bunch, so now I have 12 carrots.
In other other news, I went to church and hung out with my political debate soul twin. He's a great person to talk about politics with because he has lots of information, a good attitude, lots of respect, and a completely original viewpoint. We've been talking about settling down. I want a dog, he wants a record player. Ok, so we've been talking about settling down in the abstract. But whatever.
The Song She Sang So Beautifully
Friday. 9.6.13 6:16 pm
Tonight we went to an open mic night at the church. I heard a girl sing a beautiful rendition of "His Eye is On the Sparrow".
Whenever I hear people sing beautifully I invariably think the same thing:
One day she will be dead, and no one will remember how she sang so beautifully.
I read that about scientists, sometimes.
"He was a prolific scientist, and an accomplished banjo player."
"But now he's dead," I always think, "so all of the time he spent learning to play the banjo was wasted."
Maybe his banjo playing was what everybody loved about him, then, and nobody in his life could care less about his scientific writing. Now it is the opposite.
Ainsi tout passe sur la terre
Esprit, Beauté, Grâce, Talent
Telle est une fleur éphémère
Que renverse le moindre vent.
Saturday. 8.24.13 9:25 am
To celebrate my new-found free time, I am learning to play the bodhrán. I bought the bodhrán at the end of my thesis, but I only got as far as some pretty inconsistent triplets before I had to move to France. Now, thanks to my parents carting a giant drum with them when they visited, I get to start playing it again.
It is going pretty well so far. No word yet from the neighbors.
I'm going to beat you like a drum.
Tonight, sushi with the girls.
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