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
Wednesday. 4.25.12 6:40 am
Throughout the years of my youth, I was consumed with an all-encompassing wanderlust, an unstoppable desire to move, to keep moving, to see the world, to travel across every continent on Earth.
So I did.
Now I am suddenly consumed with an all-encompassing desire to stay put. Get a real job, have a garden, buy a dog. Own something and fix it up. Is this what happens when you turn 28?
Oh well, I guess it's time to go see some Viennese palaces and eat some wienerschnitzel while planning my next trip to Morocco.
Thursday. 4.19.12 1:26 pm
For some reason I was always aware of her skeleton. Perhaps it was because when she arrived she was thin and her hair was sparse, and when I rubbed my hand along her side I could feel her ribs, her pelvis, her elbows, her tail. Apart from her skeleton there was only her eyes, which contained the non-physical part of her being and which were profound and sad. When we paid her attention her skeleton would wriggle back and forth in a frenzied manner, as if all of her ribs were connected by single threads of tendon, forced into waves by the motion of her tail. When we ignored her she sank with a deep and heavy sigh into the corner, stared a thousand yard stare, and thought deep and heavy thoughts. Perhaps had she not been a dog she would have agitated for justice, or spoken out against abuse. But as she was a dog, she was a philosopher, and as a philosopher-dog her stomach sometimes won out over her mind when she made decisions. I knew her muscles well, having spent hours massaging them. Her skin slid in a rubbery sheet across her ribs as if it were only attached at several critical points around the edges. In return for my attentions I received a patient and thorough bath from her wide and methodical tongue. Together we felt like more than two beings, like between us there was a large black space filled with colliding galaxies.
She's been gone a long time now. In my memories she is tinged in golden afternoon sunlight. The scaffolding of the dog, of which I was so aware, turned out to be an order of magnitude less important than what hung from it, what lived with in it, what filled its spaces with flesh and blood.
I miss her.
Fieldwork on Mercury
Thursday. 4.12.12 4:33 pm
I look up at the cliffside. So this is Mercury.
For some reason I always thought that I would go to the Moon first. "Is this what it would be like to walk on the Moon?" I wonder, thinking of the Apollo astronauts who went before. But it doesn't matter now. I'm walking on Mercury.
The outcrop is made of massive gray bedrock. It towers over me, and spreads out to either side, impassable. All along the cliff I can see the sparkling of different kinds of beautiful minerals. Rubies, sapphires, amethyst, lepidolite, topaz, calcite, all in gorgeous perfect crystals a least a foot long. One after the next I place them carefully into a black plastic garbage bag. I look up. The other astronauts. "Hey, what's up, are you ready to start looking at the outcrop now?"
I hide the plastic bag full of beautiful minerals behind my back.
"What's that there, have you already collected some cool stuff?"
I sigh heavily and bring them all carefully out of the bag again to show my colleagues. Each one is a glittering beauty, a perfect type specimen of all of the most beautiful minerals known. Better yet, the appearance of each one in the outcrop revolutionizes our understanding of the planet Mercury.
Sometimes I wish I could just stay asleep forever.
Monday. 4.9.12 10:47 am
And then there is the question of Henry.
Henry and I have been friends since March of 2007. We travel in the same circles, we tend to do similar things. He went to UCLA, I went to Pomona. He went to Yale, I went to Brown. We've both lived in Bremen, Germany. We've both traveled to Antarctica. Henry's friends look just like my friends.
Only I have no idea who Henry is.
The only way that I know that I am friends with Henry is that Facebook tells me that it is so. We have no mutual friends. We were both in Bremen but not at the same time. We were both in Antarctica but not at the same time, or for the same reason. We are both scientists but he studies marine ecology.
Who are you, Henry?
I waste a good half-an-hour looking through photographs of Henry to try to determine where he fits into my life. There are any number of ways that I could know him, but nearly all of these should have left a trail of "mutual friends" from which I could devise our mysterious association. How did I know you, Henry? And why did I forget you?
Henry has a beautiful girlfriend. She looks like a model. She's an excellent photographer, and Henry's facebook photos benefit dramatically from the fact that she's in love with him. Many of the photos have that hipster, instagram feel to them, making them look like old pictures of somebody's parents when they were young.
I tried to imagine what it would be like if Henry were my father. What if he died right before I was born, and these facebook photos and my mom's memories were the only thing I had remaining of him? There he was, scuba diving in the Antarctic. There he is, catching giant cod up north. There he is dressed like a hippie, drinking a cocktail in an empty open-air tropical bar. Diving into waterfalls, wearing silly hats, presenting marine biology studies to the UN, preparing to eat raw eels, juggling coconuts. Wearing aviators and smiling a mega-watt smile, his muscled and tanned arm around my beautiful mother. Would he have inspired me to go to Yale? Would I have inherited from him a love for the sea?
I never knew him. My whole life had been defined by his absence. You could cut him out of that picture with my mother and if you pasted me in I'd never be big enough to fill up the hole that he'd left behind.
I came out of my imagination. How the hell did I know Henry? I didn't do anything in March of 2007!
I asked my old roommate if she'd ever heard of him. Nope. I tried to explain my fun game of redefining my relationship to someone in my head and then seeing how that would change my emotional reaction to their facebook photos. She didn't really say anything, but I could tell that she thought I was crazy. Oh well. Maybe games like that should stay in my head. I wonder what Henry Sr. would have thought?
There once was a man from Nantucket
Friday. 4.6.12 5:57 pm
So I'm back in La Frawnce.
Houston was filled with amazing things, including my friends, my colleagues, and so much BBQ and honey mustard sauce I almost died from pleasure. Teriyaki sauce, too, cannot be overlooked.
After Houston I went to Florida to visit Sharkboy, where we naturally fished for sharks:
What I didn't previously appreciate about sharks is how adorable they are.
Little sharkshark. Lil' sharky sharkster. Aw.
Upon my return, I saw a weird french movie starring Chris Rock (!) and I ate a bucket o' mussels, a french onion soup, and some beef bourguignon.
I'm on the path towards learning everything there is to know about sulfur (for my job) but I've been very distracted by 1. The principles of American democracy 2. Capitalism vs. Socialism 3. Colonial India 4. China's One Child policy 5. Overpopulation 6. Bawdy Limericks 7. 9gag.
Not necessarily in that order.
Luckily I bought myself a very expensive library card and I am now free to enable all of my distractions to consume me.
Thursday. 3.15.12 6:11 pm
Mysteries of Life
Wednesday. 3.7.12 4:12 pm
Sometimes I say wild and crazy things.
Sometimes I say things that he doesn't like or agree with.
Sometimes I go into excruciating detail about an incredibly boring and technical problem that I am dealing with at work.
Sometimes I talk about things I feel so passionate about that I can't speak.
Sometimes I don't have much to say at all.
For some unknown reason he always wants to talk to me again tomorrow.
les flics, allez manger du poulet !
Tuesday. 3.6.12 5:46 pm
Making friends with the Canadian took a lot of careful planning.
Making friends with Emi was effortless.
I think Emi and I were friends before we even met, and when we met we were just picking up wherever it was that we'd left off.
Emi is from Nigeria. Her family moved to the UK when she was young. Emi is a lawyer practicing English common law in Paris. Apparently it's a thing. They have international clients. Sometimes she wants to quit her job and move to Berlin to study art. Her whole life she has followed a responsible path and now she wants to do something unpredictable and reckless. Naturally she wants to do it in a responsible way, so that she can pay her rent and so that there won't be a hole in her resume. She is also writing a novel, but for now her novel is still inside her head. We're going to start getting together once a week to write. She says that some day they'll write a biography about us and they'll talk about the fateful day we met and how it changed the literary landscape forever. Maybe in the documentary version they'll pan around the hallways in Les Invalides where we first hatched the plan for our writing partnership. We like to stroll around Paris and talk about the world's problems and then not do anything about them. And cupcakes. We eat cupcakes.
In unrelated news, a conversation with les frenchies:
On whether or not we ask cops for directions:
French L: We were walking around San Francisco and I really wanted some Dunkin' Donuts because I had them in Boston. J saw a policeman and so he asked him if he knew where the doughnut shop was.
Me: You asked a COP where the DOUGHNUT SHOP was??
French L: Uh, yes, why?
Me: What did he say?
French L: Well, he told us that not all cops eat doughnuts. He showed us that he was eating a salad. And then he looked up where the doughnut shop was on his smart phone for us.
Me: You're lucky you're french.
French L: But J has such a good accent, you think he knew we were french?
Me: Hahaha. He definitely knew you were french.
Apparently the equivalent phrase in french is, "Hey cop, go eat some chicken."
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