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. 6.29.11 11:13 pm
So I haven't finished my novel, not by a long shot, but I have made the part that I did finish nice enough that I may consider letting someone read it.
I uploaded it onto CreateSpace so that I can hopefully get a free proof copy of it!! They even let me design my own cover for it. This is what it looks like:
Tuesday. 6.28.11 6:35 pm
If my roommate and I were a married couple, I would be the husband, there's no doubt about that.
I'm the one that pays the bills and changes the lightbulbs, after all, I'm the one who calls the repair guy, I'm the one who figures out the taxes. Those are all husbandy things to do, right? She's the one who makes the place look nice, the one who rearranges the furniture to make it more functional, the one who gets us to hang up pictures on the wall in aesthetically-pleasing patterns. She wanted to hang up the pictures together, so that we could both decide where to put them, even though I'd have been happy with whichever way she wanted to go about hanging them. She didn't want me to be happy with whichever way she wanted to go about hanging them, she wanted me to care where they went and she wanted us to decide together and she kind of wanted me to drive the nails in I think, because it freaks her out to drive nails into things.
She hates our apartment.
She doesn't hate it.
But she thinks that everybody's else's apartment is nicer than ours. She says that they don't have light fixtures that don't work, and they don't have laundry machines that are always breaking, and they don't have old peeling paint that makes the windows look shabby. They they have nice windows, too. If we lived in a place with nice windows then she wouldn't have to rely on me to open and close them all the time. If we lived in a place like that then the faucet wouldn't leak all the time, and the leak wouldn't keep her up half the night, and she wouldn't be so tired all the time, tired and a little sad and tired from being up half the night because the apartment's too close to the neighbor's and there are chirping birds in the trees and the place is too hot and that faucet is dripping again.
I feel responsible. The apartment is really my apartment. I lived there before and convinced her to move in. I tried to fix the leaking faucet once but I couldn't figure out what pieces I needed. I pried up a board in the living room and I've never gotten it to sit quite flat ever again. I can't hear the birds when they chirp at night. I sleep through just about everything, and I don't notice the faucet when it's dripping. I call the repair man every week and he just doesn't come, even when he says he's going to come.
She says her friend's landlord is very attentive. She says it's real quiet there because they live over a business. She's thinking about leaving and moving there. Their kitchen is bright and open, she says.
What's wrong with our kitchen? I say. You don't think our kitchen is bright and open? I say.
Oh there's nothing wrong with our kitchen, she says.
Do they have parking like our parking? I say.
Yes, she says, only their lot is paved, unlike ours which is made of gravel.
Do they have a yard? I say.
No, she doesn't think they have a yard, but what use is a yard, anyway?
I love our apartment.
I love the old wooden floors and the way that some of the doors are wooden on one side and painted on the other. I love our numerous closets and our two bathrooms and the way none of the rooms have shapes that make any sense.
I love our little yard with our little barbeque grill and our little flowering umbrella tree with Christmas lights in it that I always forget to take down. I said she could have the grill when I was gone but she doesn't think she'll ever use it.
But I love my roommate, too. And I feel like it's my fault that she can't sleep. I feel like it's my fault that the windows don't work and that we've never had a proper mirror in the powder room. I feel like it's my fault that our house is shabby and we don't have a dishwasher like all of her friends have. I tried to fix the light in the kitchen only I don't have any idea how it works, no more idea than she does, no more than the maintenance man, no more than pages and pages of Google search results that I scour to try to make up for my inadequacy.
She hates our apartment. She says if she doesn't move then she'll change everything about it when I leave. She says it won't look so crowded. She says she'll get rid of that nasty old couch and the broken futon. I would have gotten rid of them a long time ago for her only I didn't know she felt so strongly about it. I didn't know she spent all this time hating that couch and that futon.
I know she doesn't think so, but when she hates our apartment it feels like she hates us and that me being there has made her unhappy, and that she'll be happier when I'm gone because she'll be able to do whatever she likes. It makes me think that she hates our home, and that I'm a failure because I couldn't fix it for her.
I know that isn't the case.
I know it.
If she wants to change things, that's no business of mine. I'd be happy for her to do it. I changed the place after my old roommate moved out, after all. Even an easy-going person like me must exert some great force of inertia on all her plans. But I don't want to hear about it. She can decide to move into a shiny new apartment with shiny new appliances. That apartment can have a much better deal on the rent and all the utilities included. That apartment can be a quieter part of town. She can fill it with real furniture, not that shabby Craigslist stuff that doesn't match and smells weird. I'll help her move in. Heck, I'll drag those old couches down to the corner myself and arrange with the municipal trash service to have them taken away. She doesn't have to justify herself. I don't want to know.
If We Are The Body
Tuesday. 6.21.11 10:35 pm
listening to: Casting Crowns: If We Are The Body
watching: streams of photons entering my photoreceptors
Peter, my male chess-playing soul-twin, once said that he viewed the body as the interface through which the soul interacted with the physical world. When he looked at my body, he said, he wasn't actually seeing me, he was merely seeing my interface-- my avatar, if you will. In some ways, my physical appearance served as something a distraction or an obstacle that could cause a person to misinterpret who I really was-- the real me... my soul.
I suppose my views of the body are not so different from my soul-twin's. I have always viewed my body as an instrument, or a suite of instruments, like a telescope or a seismograph or a motorcycle. In orbit around Mercury right now, for instance, there is a NASA satellite made up of a chassis carrying a suite of science instruments. There is a light-detecting device which can determine mineral compositions, a radar beam that can determine altimetry, a neutron detector that can be used to calculate elemental abundances, and many more. My body is like that satellite. It has a chassis (my skeleton), a circuit board (my brain), a motor (my heart), and it carries on board several important scientific instruments. There is an instrument for collecting light in the visible spectrum (my eyes), an instrument for detecting pressure differences and acoustic pressure waves (my ears), an instrument for analyzing aerosols (my nose), an instrument for detecting chemical composition (my tongue) and a large heat and pressure-sensing membrane that fills in all of the empty space between instruments and protects the inner workings from stray particles and radiation damage like a gold foil wrapping (my skin).
Sure enough, the NASA spacecraft cannot smell, and I cannot detect neutrons. Each of us is an incomplete set of instruments. We can learn a lot about Mercury using the suite of instruments on the spacecraft, and I can learn a lot about the physical world around me by using my five senses, but neither of us can claim that the limited amount of information that we process constitutes anything close to the sum total of Reality.
Peter's focus is on getting to know the soul behind the avatar. My focus is on getting to know the physical world that is so incompletely described by my instruments. Each of us is aware of the limitations of our bodies, and that all of reality is viewed through the clouded and imperfect lens of humanity.
So what is the body then, and how should it be treated? Perhaps in Peter's thinking, the body takes something of a subsidiary role to the mind. Perhaps he would advocate achieving a kind of stillness, the kind that mediation experts seek to attain. The mind is constantly bombarded by stimuli from the body... if there were a way to quiet the insistent voices and needs of the body perhaps the soul would be given free rein to fill mind and the meditation subject could capture just a tiny glimpse of The Infinite.
In my thinking, the body should cared for like an important instrument or device. It should be well-oiled, it should be cleaned, its tank should be filled up, routine inspections should be carried out. It should be trimmed and toned and built up so that the user can take full advantage of all of its capabilities, and so that the world can be experienced at maximum capacity. Everyone knows if you are not taking care of your instruments, they will eventually rust or break, and though these days you can easily replace many of your organs, eventually all the peripherals will go and the chassis will break and your device will no longer take you anywhere. The link connecting your eternal soul to your mortal body will be severed, and your soul will return to being part of The Infinite. [Heaven. Nirvana. Take your pick.]
But while I might take care of my computer by defragging it periodically, or installing anti-virus protection, or keeping it away from unsavory situations and websites, do I ever love and appreciate my computer for what it is? Do I ever sit back and say, "I want my computer to feel good--- not because I want it to run faster or I want it to perform better, but just because I appreciate the beauty of my computer and I want it to be happy."
No, I don't.
So should the body be appreciated for merely existing? Should the body be taken care of not merely as a means to an end but as an end in itself?
Is who I am only fully realized through my body, or is my body a set of blinds through which my true self is shining?
1. Is the goal of life to reach out and understand the eternal souls of those around us, despite the limitations of our bodies?
2. Is the goal of life to explore and understand the physical world, despite the limitations of our bodies?
3. Is the goal of life to appreciate the sublime reality of self-awareness, manifested in being incarnate?
I don't know. Right now my body is sick, so I leave you with Marcel Proust's thoughts on the matter:
It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.
The Adventures of Sharkboy
Thursday. 6.16.11 8:31 am
I have Sharkboy on the phone. He is worried about his newly inherited chickens. He promised his professor's young daughter that he would take care of them for her, but one of them is looking a little lack-luster, and none of them are laying eggs. He has decided to get them all out of the hen house so that they can walk around the yard. He'll have to do it this evening, however, as he has another, more pressing problem: the other thing he inherited from his professor was a house full of fleas. He is about to set off a series of flea-bombs that will release a shroud of death upon these unwelcome creatures. He says for all they've bitten and tormented him, he hopes that he can hear their little tiny flea-screams when they die.
"Do you want to stay on the phone with me while I set them off?" he says.
I agree, but only if it won't compromise his ability to set off the bombs and retreat safely. Since the whole house is full of them, he has to start upstairs and then run downstairs from room to room in a carefully planned route that will lead to his way out. "Have you closed all the windows?" I say. "Have you turned off the fans and the air conditioning?" Yes, yes, yes. Now he is nervous. I don't want to make him nervous so I stop asking questions. He begins. I can hear him running.
Then I hear the smoke alarm. "Did you turn off the smoke alarms!?" I ask. No! And it's much too late now! Another smoke alarm goes off.
"I'm going to try to turn it off," he says, "...I'm going to have to call you back."
He hangs up. I'm hanging. Is he going to go back upstairs through the poisonous haze to get the other smoke detector?
Finally I get a call. He is breathing deep breaths of the warm sweet air of Outside. He had been able to turn off one smoke detector, but he got a big lungful of flea-gas and decided to gtfo. He was standing outside and looking back at the gas-filled house, listening to the smoke-alarm (or was it the sound of a thousand fleas screaming?) He is triumphant: the eternal struggle between Man and Nature was about to be won by Man, at least in this part of the Universe.
In the evening I get another call. He went back into the house. There are fleas that are still alive and jumping. The creeping insanity that is a product of persistent infestations is no doubt close at hand. I recalled the eventual total freakout of my sister jinyu in the face of the Pixie Moth Infestation, though I didn't realize how she felt until many years later when I faced an infestation of my own. Sharkboy resolves to buy twice as many bombs and bomb the living hell out of the place. I might call this "Stage 3" of Infestation Insanity, following "1: Realization of the extent of the infestation" and "2: Calmly taking measures to get rid of the infestation", and coming before "4: Complete Freakout", "5: Calling professional help" and "6: Moving". Another complete freakout is in store as Stage 7 if insects of the same type are discovered to have made the move as well.
But Sharkboy is not calling about the fleas--- he is calling about the chickens.
"A FOX ATE MY CHICKEN!" are the first words that I hear.
"A fox? Ate your chicken? When?"
"About thirty seconds ago."
Apparently he let the chickens out of the coop, went into the house for a moment, then came out again to see if the chickens had returned to their places. He counted three chickens out of four, so he went looking for the fourth. When he glanced into the neighboring vacant lot, he saw it: a fox with a big chicken in its mouth. He yelled and took off running after the fox, succeeding in getting the fox to drop the chicken and retreat. The chicken was twitching, but dead. Not knowing what to do with the body, he left it there. As he talks to me on the phone, he sees the fox return and pick up the chicken in its mouth and retreat through the long grass. He can only see the body of the dead chicken, bouncing its way just above the grass-tops.
Sharkboy: 0, Nature: 2
Wednesday. 6.8.11 7:41 pm
Ever since I knew it existed, Lowe's Home Improvement has been my favorite store. When I enter Lowe's, I usually find myself in the lawn and garden section. I begin by imagining my perfect garden, green and overgrown, with flowers spilling across wooden trellises, flagstones leading down shady paths, and hidden pools lit up at night by solar-powered lawn torches. One part of my perfect garden will have edible plants like tomatoes and corn, but the vast majority of the edible part of my garden will be chives. Who knew there were so many different types of chives to choose from? There will be one of those wide, raised outdoor fire pits that are illegal in Rhode Island and a fanciful rain gauge.
Once my garden is thoroughly imagined, I proceed to the paint aisle, where a myriad of multi-colored swatches greets me, asking me to imagine a great number of rooms, a room for every color, a paint brush for every job, shiny and matte, chocolate and daisy, ivory and plum. In hardware I find door knobs and drawer handles. In plumbing I find kitchen faucets, shower knobs, long pvc pipes. I fancy myself a plumber and imagine fixing all of the leaky faucets in my apartment to the surprise and delight of my roommate. I wander through shades and shelves, I look at pots and pails. I spend twenty minutes thumbing through a magazine that teaches you how to make your attic into a livable space, even though I don't actually own an attic.
Lighting is one of my favorite departments. I suddenly want to install fixtures, lanterns and chandeliers. Several free-standing lampposts are mentally added to my garden. Having just come from Electrical, I am confident in my ability to choose and install the right kind of wiring to add light to my non-existent garden and sunroom. In Lumber I examine each type of wood and each type of board. In my mind they are being assembled into bunk-beds, decks, tree-houses and sheds.
My heart fills with happiness. It is not a content feeling, but rather a overwhelming desire to create, to build something, to make things functional and beautiful and to contribute something to the world.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the reason I like Travis is because he makes me feel like I do when I'm in Lowe's.
He makes me want to build things.
Wednesday. 6.1.11 8:52 am
I'm on a staycation right now from work. I'm sitting around doing all of the amazing things that I never had an opportunity to do because I have a JOB. I think I'm going to take a tour of Brown University today, and maybe a tour of Hope High School across the street.
I thought I would write down what I do each day so that I don't forget how amazing staycations are.
1. Finished some work. That was lame, but I got it out of the way early so I could concentrate on my staycation.
2. Vacuumed my rug for the 80th time. More satisfying than you would think.
3. Rearranged/threw out my shoes.
4. Finished drawing a picture.
5. Drew a picture of my sister and my brother-in-law (I'm working on drawing people that actually look like the person they're supposed to look like... it's a work in progress) I would put it up here but since I'm on a staycation I can't go into work and that is where the scanner is.
6. Read a bunch of chapters in "The River Why"
7. Made a Facebook Album
8. Went to the local observatory and observed Saturn through a 12-inch (diameter) refracting telescope.
9. Observed an iridium satellite flare.
10. Returned all of the 49 library books that I had checked out and apparently one book that didn't actually belong to the library.
11. Talked to my boy TWICE. I think I will refer to him as "Fish Boy", because he studies fish for a living. Or maybe I should call him "Shark Boy"... because he also now studies sharks... and that would make me "Lava Girl". Yessss, Shark-Boy it is.
He's Just So Cute Though
Sunday. 5.22.11 3:00 pm
Circumcision of the Entire Body (DP)
Thursday. 5.19.11 11:06 pm
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