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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.
Other People's Minds
Tuesday. 10.22.13 5:45 pm
“I read an article about a woman who tried out a new kind of neural network,” I say. “She was supposed to do something that she had never done, in this case shoot a gun, both with and without the neural network in place. You know, because the study took place in America.” I can’t see him, but I hear him laugh.
“In her article she said, ‘You know that voice that’s in your head all the time that says ‘You’re terrible at this, you’re terrible at this, you’re embarrassing yourself, stop stop stop’? When I was wearing the neural network the voice stopped completely.’ Suddenly she could concentrate on her task and her marksmanship went way, way up. The effect of the neural net lasted for a few days but then the voice slowly came back. I found the article fascinating because the woman assumed that everyone had that voice in their head. Only--- I don’t.”

“You don’t?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Nah—when I try something new I think, ‘you are not very good at this because you are just beginning, but if you practice a lot you will get better.’ I think there are a lot of people who do have this voice though, who live all of the time with this kind of overbearing, overwhelming negative self-talk.”
“When do you think having more than one voice in your head becomes an actual problem?” he asks neutrally.
I shrug. I’ve thought a lot about this problem. I say that maybe it’s when you can’t tell whether or not the voice belongs to you anymore.
He has lots of voices in his head, he says. They argue with each other all the time. When he is speaking, one voice says, “Oh, you should talk about this.” Another voice says, “MAKE SURE TO ADD THIS!” Another voice says, “You should probably say it a different way.” The voice that comes out of his mouth, he says, which he calls the spokesperson of his brain, tries to deal with all of these intersecting voices in order to make coherent sentences, but the result is sometimes a way of speaking that sounds rather scatter-brained. He thinks that maybe having many voices in your head only becomes a real problem when your spokesperson voice starts losing his power to control the others, or he starts to let them speak straight to the world instead of managing them.

He says that some people have a warehouse in their minds, but he tends to keep things in randomly oriented stacks. He thinks he has a good idea of where he’s put everything in the stacks, but often he has to go rooting around trying to find some piece of information that got lost.

He says that sometimes a thought will take hold of him and not let go. It runs through his mind on a circular track. Each time it passes it gains speed, like a particle in a particle accelerator, until it is spinning around in his head so fast he can’t even control it any more. That’s what happens to his worries sometimes, he says.

He once said that he liked me because I seemed to radiate calm. Now I can see why. There is only one of me up here. It is very quiet inside my head. I tend to credit my belief in God for my general metaphysical calmness, but I think my head has been much quieter than most people’s before I ever really believed there was a God.

I still have thoughts that upset me; thought spirals which make me sad or angry. I still have thoughts that come into my head which I don’t care to think about. For the most part my head has the ability to dismiss them. I actually dismiss thoughts like school pupils. I read about it once, on a meditation website. “You’re dismissed,” I say to my unwanted thoughts, unemotional, passionless, and my unwanted thoughts fade away. If, before I sleep, I feel like my head is spinning away with thoughts like a top, I say a prayer, anything rote and soothing, and I imagine the top slowly precessing until it falls over and releases me to sleep. But my head hardly ever feels like a top anymore.

It’s very quiet in here.

Sometimes I have a hard time putting my eyes in focus; that’s when my mind goes on vacation and there is nobody in there at all.

“You should come and spend some time in my head,” I say.
“I doubt you would want to spend time in mine,” he says.

I disagree.

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California Dreaming 2
Monday. 10.21.13 5:57 pm
Well I applied for a position as a professor at UC Santa Cruz.

Here's to a life on the beach~!

....to me and the other 100+ people who likely applied....

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Turkish Delight
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.

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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.

-Luke 11:33-36

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.

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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:

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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."

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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.

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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.

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