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 ŗ 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
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 hadnít 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 oneís webÖ 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 didnít 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 didnít clean up the spiderís 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 wasnít 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.
Jewish People, Heavy Metal, etc.
Wednesday. 3.6.13 4:00 pm
Eh. Thought about writing about race relations in Philadelphia, but I don't live there. I've only driven through there once. I stopped at the Art Museum, did the Rocky thing with my dad, failed to eat a cheesesteak, and left.
Thought about writing about feminism, and I will, eventually.
Thought about writing about the sequester, which could possibly kill my job prospects at NASA. Thought about writing about why, on a deep, philosophical level, I don't really care whether it gets killed or not.
Viktor the Siberian and I went to a heavy metal concert. Well, "progressive metal/prog rock" concert, but who knows the difference? All I know was that it was epic.
I've been busy making a powerpoint for my NASA job talk. It will be so epic that they'll call it a prog rock metal powerpoint, and they will award it the Al Gore Nobel Peace Prize for Powerpoints.
A guy I know from my semester at sea wrote a little story about his grandmother today. Apparently she was sent to Auschwitz at age 14. After the war she went to America, where she spent ten years working in a sweatshop for $1 per day. I guess she hardly ever talks about Auschwitz and she had never before talked about the sweatshop. She just kinda did what she had to do to make life better for her kids and her grandkids. Well, they're doing great now, so bravo, Grandma B. I've been thinking about the Jewish people a lot lately. After all, the Jews are one of the most ill-used races of all time (all conspiracy theories aside). They were thrown into ghettos, denied the right to own land, forbidden from selling things, barred from many professions, stripped of their last names, their languages, their religion... forbidden from marrying non-Jews, denied participation in civil society, killed by the millions, and yet, time after time, they always end up on top.
How do they do it? How do you take a people who is utterly destitute, whose rise is circumscribed at every turn, and turn them a generation later into the kind of people who are sending their kid to Brown University? How did a random bunch of refugees build a nation in the desert which now boasts the third highest standard of living in Asia? How was Germany changed from a place where people hated Jews enough to murder literally millions of them into a place today where the prevalence of antisemitism is roughly comparable to other European nations?
Honestly--- maybe if we could figure it out, I wouldn't have to write about feminism or race relations in Philadelphia.
Day 28: Pics or it didn't happen
Thursday. 2.28.13 12:50 pm
Day 27: Florida, Indiana, MIT, Harriet Tubman, blasting my pecs
Wednesday. 2.27.13 6:14 pm
At pizza night we talked about Harriet Tubman. If you don't know the story of Harriet Tubman, she was a famous American woman who escaped from slavery in Maryland before the American Civil War and then came back and helped countless other slaves escape. She later became a spy for the Union army. An all-around badass. At one point there was a bounty of $40,000 on her head. And that's in 1860s money! Apparently she was never to be seen without her trusty colt pistol or a rifle. At the time it was illegal to sell weapons or ammunition to black people and illegal for black people to possess said items. Harriet used her gun to protect the people on her secret trail to freedom, and also to threaten escaped slaves who got scared and wanted to turn back. She knew that she couldn't have anyone who knew about the "underground railroad" get captured or turn back, because then the whole thing would end up being compromised. I had started to question whether or not individuals should have so much freedom to own and use guns, but if there was ever an argument for why this important, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is it. We talked about this in remembrance of Black History Month. Apparently Germany and several other countries have a Black History Month, but not France. The speaker said sarcastically that she couldn't see it happening any time soon, but I don't know why. In my experience French people are only really racist against Arabs and gypsies.
Out of the people at pizza night maybe a third of them were black, but only one of them was from the US. Even he was a second generation immigrant from Kenya. I think the speaker expected them to be more ardently into supporting Harriet Tubman, but mostly they just asked questions like, "Was she crazy?" One of them said, "So the slaves..." and the woman corrected "The ENSLAVED" and the girl kind of rolled her eyes and was like, "the enslaved". Afterwards I had some cocoa with a girl from Zimbabwe and a guy from London. They were discussing what it was like to be black. He, with his British accent and his prep-school education, she with her tales about lions and her troubled country. "They didn't let us play football [soccer] in school, really," he says. "They said it was a 'working man's game'. We played rugby in one season, cricket in the second season, and the third season we played tennis." At this moment he reminds me a little bit of Carlton Banks. I don't know how much he has in common with Harriet Tubman. But I dig them both.
At parkour I broke my entire self. I had a feeling that it would happen... on the way there it was bitterly cold and I was feeling like I might pull my hammy... but when the dust settled I had a badly pulled pectoral muscle and a giant swelling on my knee. I've been using a large bottle of Schmirnoff Ice as an ice pack. Luckily school vacations start on Saturday so I have at least a week for my pec to recover. I'm not modeling this week so my bruises will also have time to clear.
I talked to my good friend Rhodes [if you remember her vaguely]. She has a sweet high-powered job in my field and is generally a super-star. She was giving me advice on how to ace my job interview at NASA next month. She was also giving me the low-down on a bunch of faculty jobs that are apparently open or opening. There are 2-3 at John's Hopkins in Baltimore, two at Florida Institute of Technology, a couple at MIT (!??!), Purdue, Arizona State, University of Arizona, etc.
I have to decide what to apply for. None of these positions are in Santa Cruz, Montana, New Mexico, Hawaii, or Colorado, so that's not working in their favor. Indiana is like the worst state I've ever visited. [To be fair, it was in the dead of winter on a particularly terrible weekend.]
I just want to see some paaaaalm trees....
Day 26: Pizza
Tuesday. 2.26.13 12:56 pm
I have to leave now for pizza night at the church.
We make the pizza in the church's kitchen. They have BBQ pizza. I'm going to die of delight while I eat it. I usually have like seven pieces, not even joking.
I've been listening to the soundtrack of Breaking Dawn. It is awesome. Every time I listen to it I start thinking about my new novel and I get distracted from my work.
All the same, I did a lot of work today figuring out all of the properties of sulfate aerosols, which was pretty fun.
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