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
Dreaming of Patrick Dempsey
Sunday. 11.23.08 4:37 pm
So I had this dream, and in the dream I was Patrick Dempsey, and in my natural romantic-comedy style, I had made a mess of things and the girl that I really loved was mad at me.
I was determined to make it up to her, so I had my friend take her out in a small boat on the lake in Central Park. A bunch more of my friends came around in their boats and they were all singing a song to her. I gave one of my friends some plastic gold rings, among which was a beautiful gold and diamond engagement ring, and he swam over to her boat and handed them to her. I followed, diving into the water and swimming over to her boat. I climbed in, totally wet, and I had a piece of paper. I had written my apology on it.
I looked her in the eye and recited my apology. Naturally I imbued it with enough spontaneity to be sincere, but I wanted her to see how long I had thought about it, which is why I wrote some of it down. I told her (and I hadn't told anyone this, ever, because of my bachelor ways!) how much I truly loved her, valued her, couldn't live without her, and how I had come to realize that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I asked her to marry me.
She gave me a funny look, like she hadn't expected me to say that. A long silence ensued, until I said lamely, "Or if you don't want to, that's ok."
"I can't marry you." she said very frankly.
"Oh... I mean, I know you don't like my family," I said, suddenly supplied with years of memories about what a dysfunctional mess my family was, "but we can move out West, we'll never have to see them!"
She shook her head. "This isn't about your family, Patrick" she said, "I am not going to marry you."
I was struggling for more reasons behind her statement so that I could diffuse them, but there was nothing. My apology, for whatever it was that I had done, wasn't enough, and could never be enough.
I was suddenly aware of all my friends still being nearby in their rowboats. My disbelief started to turn into a cold, horrible feeling of realization and embarrassment. She said she was sorry that it had to be so public like this. I mumbled another apology, I should have asked her in a more private place. I got to my feet shakily and threw myself overboard again, swimming awkwardly away in my soaking-but-charming-Patrick-Dempsey outfit. I reached one of my friends in his row boat, who looked at my questioningly because he figured I would row back with my beloved.
"She said 'no'" I managed to croak, and his face blanched with shock. I was having a hard time breathing. He didn't say anything else, he just rowed hurriedly for shore and the club. I entered the club through the men's locker room, blindly searching for the locker that had my dry clothes. I had planned an engagement party for us at the club, all of our friends were probably already there.
"Where does this door go?" I asked a man in the locker room. I didn't want to accidentally enter the room with the party. He didn't know, and I peeked out to see an antechamber that led to the party room. In it was one of the women from the party, an acquaintance of mine. She caught sight of me and her face lit up with happiness. "So?" she enthused.
My face fell and she caught sight of my still water-logged clothing. "She said, 'no'" I said quietly, sounding still surprised.
Her face looked like my friend's. She disappeared back through the other door- to disperse the party, I knew. I wandered around and finally found the locker with my dry clothes and changed into them. I snuck out the back of the club and walked down to the park. It was such a beautiful, sunny day.
I ran into myself (as in, the true Zanzibar version of myself) and her sister (jinyu), who were walking with their [our] dog.
"Hey there, kid," Zanzibar said, putting her arm around me in a jocund manner, "You look down. Don't go home... hang around with us. We can go see the new James Bond movie this afternoon... take your mind off things."
So I did.
Thursday. 11.20.08 1:15 am
Wednesday. 11.19.08 11:43 am
ALMOST EXAM TIME.
sulfur, diffusion, gradient, curl, lagrangian, laplacian, oxygen fugacity, taylor series, advection, anorthosite, olivine, magnesium, chlorine, supercooled, FRAGMENTATION!!!
Square Root Canals
Tuesday. 11.18.08 1:52 pm
This week is a good week. I get to do a bunch of really unpleasant things, and then they will be over and I'll leave for Thanksgiving! Among these:
Go to the dentist (check!)
Submit Mercury Paper of Death (almost check!!)
Take gigantic 3-hour oral exam to qualify for Phd (Wednesday)
Do all of my late fluid mechanics homework (Thursday)
Do all the model runs which I have been neglecting for 9 months in time for Monday morning visit by collaborating scientist (Friday)
Inevitably these things will come back to revisit me, particularly the dentist, who told me that I have an abscess and I need a root canal and immediate antibiotics to tame the raging bacteria once more proliferating in my face, and the Mercury paper, the revisions of which have so far been worse than a root canal.
I have reserved Saturday and Sunday specifically for screwing around, hopefully to include sleeping in, making pancakes and bacon, watching Michael Crichton movies and hanging around with Thalweg.
EDIT: Just a note, the bacteria isn't nearly as bad as it was last year. It is content to chill out in my tooth and nearby gums, and not in my general face-tissue at large.
Drama, or lack thereof
Sunday. 11.16.08 3:36 pm
Geez. So little drama these days. Reading bananaface's site made me remember what hilarious fun it was. Ah, high school. Would that your high level of drama came back to me again. Then I would have something to think about when I was bored so I could stop multiplying and dividing random pairs of large numbers like I do now. College had some drama too but it wasn't as fun. The failure being that not enough people hooked up with Michael. Or maybe it was that too many people hooked up with Michael....
Or maybe it was just that all the wrong people hooked up with Michael.
The question of the ages.
My friends nowadays are so boring, they do work and get wasted and that's about it. We should go bowling.
Living in the Eternal Now
Saturday. 11.15.08 5:55 pm
I met a girl on the flight back from Virigina. Her name was Joy, she was a yogi. I would guess that she was half filipino, with long dark brown hair, medium skin tone and a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. She worked in non-profits and she was hoping to possibly get a job in Boston. In the course of practicing yoga and becoming a yogi she had learned a lot of sanskrit and started studying eastern thinking, such as the 8-fold path.
We had a long talk about everything: love, trust, the self as servant, community, betrayal, honor, Mars, yoga, the stratosphere, the Red Sox Nation, How to Win Friends and Influence People, how to choose a career, the edge of the Universe, focus on the inner self as a path towards understanding others, football, management, the One Laptop per Child Initiative, Iceland, and farmers markets, and inventions.
People who do yoga and go to farmer's markets are often posers and blind trend followers, I have found (they exist in a disproportionate number in my community), but Joy was refreshingly genuine. She found a real resonance in the Hindu form of spirituality, even though she wasn't Hindu herself. She was incredibly trusting of people, even to the point that they often took advantage of her. She was at the point where her initial innocence had been shattered, and she was looking for a way to put all of the pieces back together and examine why they had broken. There was something very poetic in the way she said it-- you could tell that she was one of those people who found great significance in small things, which I think is a requirement for any inspired poet. She said that she once saw two children walking home from the dollar store in a depressed neighborhood, carrying a large bag full of chips and dip and a carton of eggs between them and clearly enjoying each other's company and friendship. In her mind she imagined a back story for the two boys and their innocent, joy-filled friendship amid a troubled upbringing. Their chips and dip were for the football game that was on that day, and the eggs were for a grandmother. Someone honked at her and she realized that the light was green.
During our layover in Laguardia, she gave me an article about the difference between "transactional trust" (you have to give the mechanic your car for him to fix your brakes and trust him to actually fix them and not overcharge you) and "innate trust", that you have to maintain a purity inside yourself that is not tainted by the fact that your transactional trust will inevitably be broken. Your soul will not become shriveled, cynical, and bitter because of those who have failed you, instead, you will realize that you can (and should) maintain a sense of self and outlook that is completely divorced from the actions of other people, which are beyond your control. You can't undo the fact that the mechanic cheated you, but you can make sure his betrayal of your trust doesn't ruin the rest of your day.
At this point it goes into a description of "living in the eternal now" which is in a way how I view stoicism, only described differently. For example, I was listening to my friend and her boyfriend talking, and he said something completely neutral, "Did you call the restaurant to see if they were open?" and she exploded at him "I JUST CALLED THEM. I was literally JUST on the phone with them. Don't you remember ANYTHING? Weren't you LISTENING? Are you brain damaged????".
From my perspective, it was totally unwarranted, because nothing it what he had said deserved this response. From her point of view, she could say that it wasn't what he had said just then, but the fact that he ALWAYS SAYS THINGS LIKE THAT AND THE SUM OF ALL OF THESE THINGS MAKES ME WANT TO YELL AT HIM ARGGG!!!
The substance of the argument was very trivial, and I feel like many couples spend a lot of time fighting over trivial things and summing their reactions over all of the trivialities into meaning-laden sighs or tones of voice that erode the original sphere of love that existed when the relationship began.
If she had been able to live in the eternal now, she could remain aware of the past and the future but judge the situation as it really was, without the baggage she was attaching to it, and keep the hurtful or dismissive tone out of her response. After all, isn't her overarching desire to feel closer to him and improve their relationship in the long term?
When we got to the airport, we parted from Joy and my traveling partner S and I went to wait for his baggage. S had been spending the last 9 hours worrying that we were going to miss our flight, our connection, and our dinner. He had been worrying that his bag would get lost and then he would have to put in a claim and this delay would cause us to miss the last train home from Boston. We would have to take a cab which would be really expensive or call our friends in Boston, who might not be home, to ask them if we could stay there, or get a hotel.
I suggested that he try living in the eternal now.
He told me that he thought whoever wrote that article was definitely high.
In the end, the Universe delivered us safely to Providence that night.
In Soviet Russia, big screen watches you!
Friday. 11.14.08 8:17 am
"In Moscow, in early 1990s, I worked at an electronics store," said the Russian.
"It was only such store in town and you could buy a big screen TV for $5000. All of our customers were oil barons. At this time setting up this TV could be a big problem, so the oil barons would get us to come to their house to set up all of these cords and everything. Then they would tip you just hundreds of dollars for your trouble. They would just have a big amount of bills and they would roll them off, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred. It was a nice job, but dangerous. On day I came to work and there were SWAT teams everywhere. One of the managers had been stealing merchandise from the store. We sold these big child-size Barbie dolls and she would take the box and fill it with watches and electronics. Then she would mark it and put it on the sales floor and her husband would buy it. In their apartment they had all of this stuff, still in the boxes, so the SWAT team found lots of evidence. The mayor of Moscow was the owner of the store, so he was very strict.
But they didn't even kill them, which is quite surprising."
Thursday. 11.13.08 12:43 am
Tonight we had a lovely banquet for the conference. We were led down to dinner by a colonial band playing drums and fifes. We had a traditional dinner consisting of peanut soup and pork and fried chicken and corn meal balls and corn bread and Williamsburg salad and pumpkin pie pudding and sour cherry trifle.
The one weird part was that while our hosts were colonially-garbed white people, and our entertainment was colonially-garbed white people, and our conference was about 95% white people (with the balance in asians and one African guy), our servers were 100% black people, dressed in 1700s black-people garb. I mean, not "fancy dress and bonnet" colonial garb, but like authentic late 1700s black-people garb. It was more than a little strange and uncomfortable.
We also had 4 vegetarians at our table, which is just awkward in itself.
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