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
Monday. 3.25.13 5:34 pm
It's 10:30 pm and I'm in my office listening to John Philip Sousa marches while trying to load global maps of Mercury on ArcMap.
My future is uncertain. NASA funding is in quite a state.
Hawaii hasn't said yes, no, or maybe.
My boss here says that I could stay a couple extra months if I wanted to. Or a year, heck, I could stay another year, he says, God bless him, if he could find some cash lying around. Which he is pretty good at finding.
My buddy at JPL says I could come for a few months to California. We could collab. I made that abbreviation up just now. A little bit of surfing. A little bit of hanging out with "film-makers" that she apparently knows.
Maybe I could get a post-doc in Padua, Italy....
Heck, I'm so free right now, I ain't got nothing to tie me down. I could move to Japan! I could move to Antarctica! South Africa! Peru! Norway! Australia! Tahiti! Why can't I just write grants and live in Tahiti?????
Well, there is the whole "only 1-in-10 grants gets funded" thing going on right now. The whole "we spend more than 80% of our time just writing grants, less than 20% doing science" thing. Those kinds of statistics make one a bit wary of joining a soft-money, grant-supported institution, even if it does give you the flexibility to live in Tahiti. Those kinds of statistics make you wonder if now is the right time to be moving back to the USA.
Hence the fact that I switched music:
Wednesday. 3.20.13 3:43 pm
So they haven't emailed me to say that I've made it through the first rounds of cuts for the Hawaiian job.
But they haven't emailed me saying that I haven't made it [an email that my friend got].... so.... I'm going to take that as a "maybe".
In other news my friend says that I'm on his "shortlist" for a return trip to Antarctica.... so...................... we'll see how that goes.
To Chaos We Shall Return
Monday. 3.18.13 12:49 am
According to the religious Taoists, the world began with chaos. Two gods on either side of the chaos decided that it was a shame that the chaos did not have eyes or ears or other senses and could therefore not sense the world around it. So they cut eyes and ears and a mouth into the chaos, and for the first time, chaos was aware of the world. Immediately upon perceiving, the chaos split into two halves, yin and yang, good and evil. The story follows that of Adam and Eve in a way. With knowledge came good and evil, and once it was known, it could not be unknown. Instead of living in blissfully ignorant paradise, where the concepts of good and evil are unknown, you live in a place where they are intertwined, and, as shown by the yin-yang, all evil has inside of it a little piece of good and all good has inside of it a little piece of evil.
We were at lunch. With Tex sitting next to the Canadian and I and the Chinese doctoral student He Chang across the table, we had slipped into English.
“I have been thinking about this lately,” she said, pausing thoughtfully. “Think about a car crash. You have so much kinetic energy, and it is transformed through the car crash into different kinds of kinetic energy, to bend the metal and break the glass, and a huge amount of thermal energy, which dissipates. The whole universe is like that—kinetic and potential energy is always transforming into thermal energy, until someday all of it will be thermal energy and that will be the only kind of energy that exists.”
“Yes,” I said, “the eventual heat death of the universe. I guess from the beginning we came from chaos and at the end to chaos we will return.”
“You think too much,” said Tex. People say that to the Canadian and I all the time.
Sunday. 3.17.13 12:55 am
When I look down at the sea from a plane, I can sometimes see little spots of white among the deep navy blue of the North Atlantic. They are probably white-caps on a ever-changing ocean, but I like to pretend that they are whales. Look how many whales are down there in that sea, I say to myself, whales of all types and sizes, what a marvel of nature!
Saturday. 3.16.13 12:31 am
I walked into my bathroom. There was a large black spider perched on a web that had been built between the toilet brush and the wall. The spider had been there, more or less, for six months. In a moment of clement feelings, I had spared its life, and then when it continued to live there, I felt that I could not revoke my clemency. I named the spider Pierre, despite the fact that it was probably a female. He had become my de facto pet, and I spoke French to him so that I could practice my accent out loud. I hadn’t spoken to him lately, though, as our conversations recently always seemed to end in arguments. I always asked him what he had accomplished while I was at work; he thought this question was a loaded question, and that I was judging him for staying home all day, I claimed that I was just curious what it was that he did all day, he claimed that he had been busy all day hunting, I asked what more there was to hunting than lying in wait on one’s web… you can see how this might go. We had implicit agreement that I would not kill him as long as he stayed generally in the area of his web and didn’t make any sudden movements.
I used to have another spider pet, in college. This spider also had a general web behind the toilet in the bathroom. Unlike Pierre, this spider was dead, and had been dead for as long as I had known of its presence behind the toilet. I didn’t clean up the spider’s body, though. Instead I would sit on the toilet and ponder the meaning of mortality. With Pierre around I spent less time pondering mortality and more time on guard against any sudden movements. Predictable as Pierre was, living spiders are always inherently more unpredictable than dead ones. I talked to Pierre about it once. He thought that it was a little morbid to keep a dead spider in a web behind your toilet. He asked me if I was asking him his opinion about this because I felt like this sort of thing lay in his future. Of course my answer was no, but I think that our relationship wasn’t really the same after that.
Saturday. 3.9.13 6:42 pm
As it is my last day with "Great Contemporaries" by Winston Churchill, I must take a moment to write down some of my favorite passages:
"There is always, as was well said, more error than design in human affairs" pg 342
"A second danger to President Roosevelt's valiant and heroic experiments seems to arise from the disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts. It is a very attractive sport, and once it gets started quite a lot of people everywhere are found ready to join in the chase. Moreover, the quarry is at once swift and crafty, and therefore elusive. The pursuit is long and exciting, and everyone's blood is infected with its ardour. The question arises whether the general well-being of the masses of the community will be advanced by an excessive indulgence in this amusement. The millionaire or multi-millionaire is a highly economic animal. He sucks up with sponge-like efficiency money from all quarters. In this process, far from depriving ordinary people of their earnings, he launches enterprise and carries it through, raises values, and he expands that credit without which on a vast scale no fuller economic life can be opened to the millions. To hunt wealth is not to capture commonwealth. This money-gathering, credit-producing animal can not only walk-- he can run. And when frightened he can fly. If his wings are clipped, he can dive or crawl. When in the end he is hunted down, what is left but a very ordinary individual apologizing volubly for his mistakes, and particularly for not having been able to get away? But meanwhile great constructions have crumbled to the ground. Confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup-kitchens or march out upon public works with ever-growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or the wing of what was once a millionaire. One quite sees that people who have got interested in this fight will not accept such arguments against their sport. What they will have to accept is the consequences of ignoring such arguments. It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labor, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. If this is rejected there is always, of course, the Russian alternative." -Winston Churchill, 1934. pg 376
"'When I was in India I saw some things your people do not see. I used to go to the bazaars and to the fountains. I had a good interpreter, and lots of people came to me and talked. Your English officers are rough with the Indians; they do not mingle with them at all; but they defer to their political opinions. That is the wrong way round. Frenchmen would be much more intimate, but we should not allow them to dispute our principle of Government.'" --From a conversation with Georges Clemenceau.
And the best and last one I shall put only on Facebook, because if I put it in both places then there will be a Googleable link between my two personalities, and we can't have that CAN WE.
There are many more, but I didn't write them down at the time and I can't CTL-F a real book with real pages. Oh well, I'll have to buy myself the book at a later time.
Friday. 3.8.13 4:03 pm
I have always thought of the future as a space filled with an infinite number of possible timelines. The present slides along and collapses this space into a single timeline, like a cosmic zipper. The direction that future is going is chaotic. A very slight change in the present state, and the future diverges wildly. My decisions don't decide the future, but they rearrange the chaotic attractors around which the threads of time are wound. And yet, each time I take action, an undecided state snaps into a decided state. The zipper inches forward.
When Sharkboy and I broke up, I felt like the strands of the future, which I had slowly and lovingly wound around a particular subset of collapsed possibility, was thrown suddenly and violently open again, exposing me to a crushing tide of re-established possibility space. I didn't see it that way right away, of course. I felt like a castaway, who, having placed his trust so long in his sturdy ship, finds himself suddenly alone at sea. The ocean, bountiful, life-giving, vast, feels like a terrifying, engulfing nothingness, and a single splinter of the lost ship like all the world.
They say that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell Him your plans. So I imagine, in my times of sorrow and uncertainty, God, up there somewhere, laughing at me.
But there you are. You've exchanged one, small, hopeful, precious, extinguished possibility for a universe of possibilities. New decisions, new pathways, new destinations. And the present, working away tirelessly beside you, weaving the threads of the future into the faded tapestry of the past.
Thursday. 3.7.13 4:03 am
"If you were me," he says, putting his arm around his little Spanish girlfriend, "Would you be able to get up at 9 o'clock on a Saturday?" We are in an old french train, rattling towards the suburbs.
"No," I said. "But if I had a beautiful girlfriend... let's imagine, for a moment, that I did... and she was only visiting for the weekend... I think I could trouble myself to get out of bed and make her breakfast."
For this remark I get a conspiratorial smile from Miss Spain and a protest from Mr. Mime.
"Then again," I said, "if I had a beautiful boyfriend who was sleeping peacefully in his bed at 9 o'clock on Saturday morning, and I was only visiting for the weekend, I think I could trouble myself to make breakfast for him and wake him up that way."
He produces his phone which has a recording of her telling him to wake up in her sweet little Spanish voice. I suggest he makes it his alarm. They continue to argue about it, smiling, their faces inches away from one another.
Excuse me while my jealousy jumps from the train.
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