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 ï¿½ 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
A Gentleman in Russia
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism
Seneca: Letters from a Stoic
Remember the Alamo
Saturday. 10.4.08 10:17 pm
Today I predicted that I would pull my muscle during the soccer game, and indeed within the first few minutes of the game's start my prediction came true. I even predicted the right muscle, the moyen adducteur, though I did not know its true name at the time.
Naturally I played the rest of the half, but my inconquerable competitive nature caused me to greatly worsen it by continuing to hobble after breakaways, kick balls in the opposite direction that the opposition was kicking it only at the same time, and clear out dangerous balls with a booming kick that requires great effort of the muscle I had injured.
Finally at the half I had to sit down, much to my dismay, since our team had no substitutes. It was 2-1 at the half, (them), and we soon scored a short-handed goal to tie it up. Another goal was scored by them... but it remained close...
until the last ~7 minutes of the game when the whole team fell apart and they got a couple completely fresh, excellent players who had been late. Then we lost something like 9-2. Ouch. In our defense, they had a whole bunch of substitutes, we were down a man (me) and we are about 90% out of shape.
There's nothing worse than sitting injured on the sideline watching your team play, no matter how they're doing. Plus my team doesn't know me very well, so it is impossible for them to judge how serious I felt my injury had to be before I wouldn't play. People who know me would know that it would have to be pretty serious.
So after a particularly slow and painful walk home, I spent the evening icing my injury with rotating packs of frozen peas and watching John Wayne's "The Alamo" on PBS with Mangalon. Admittedly, Mangalon was in it mostly for the snuggling, falling fast asleep more than once on my tingling arm.
Remember the Alamo, everyone. Especially you Texas people. Before this movie I had no idea who Houston and Austin were... I guess I never really thought that the cities might be named after people. You learn something new every day.
Snow on Mars, A Second Look at Mercury
Friday. 10.3.08 9:20 pm
An exciting week in planetary science, as the Phoenix Mars Lander team announced that they had positively identified calcium carbonate
From the above image you can clearly see why this discovery was important.
Even cooler yet, virga (precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the surface) was discovered by the lander as it gazed up into the clouds with its laser. This is what virga looks like, though this was probably rain virga and on Mars it is most likely snow.
Here's a little animation of how it would look to sit on the surface of Mars and watch the clouds go by:
In other news, we got our first new picture of Mercury as our spacecraft prepares to make its second flyby of the planet scheduled for Sunday night/early Monday morning. I guess this means that Mercury wasn't destroyed since January. I requested not to go down to the science operation center at the NASA applied physics laboratory this time so that I could catch up on my homework and my javanese gamelan, but I was appointed as the leader of the "home" team. We might make t-shirts.
Wednesday. 10.1.08 3:13 pm
If you were here we would have an adventure and go into the locked room in the music building and we would play all of the instruments in the Javenese Gamelan. Especially the gong that shakes the floor like the THX intro at the movies.
But you are not here, Lieblingsfarbe, so instead I must miss you, and play the gong alone.
Ivory Tower Immunity
Tuesday. 9.30.08 11:14 am
That hurt Hashmir like a thumb tack
Tuesday. 9.30.08 8:00 am
Sunday. 9.28.08 7:05 pm
The future always looks a bit brighter when you sit down and calculate it out.
Granted, the whole "student loan" thing from undergrad doesn't help my rosy outlook, but I think if I can put away 17.5% of my paycheck each month, I should be able to save enough money by the time I graduate to pay them off. I think I'll go to the bank tomorrow and make myself a savings account that does this automatically. Since I'm in school full time, my loans are not accumulating interest, but as soon as I graduate, they will. This is why paying them off all at once as soon as I go into repayment is a priority. Plus with the money in a savings account, I'll be the one earning interest for the next three years.
Meanwhile, I am after:
"Anyone Can Learn 7 Languages" CDs
A trip to Japan & Korea
A new (used) car
In that order. Though depending on how long it continues to rain, the car might move to a higher level on the priority list.
I calculate that these items together would cost about 47% of my total yearly income. :(
However, given my spartan lifestyle and relatively low rent, this could be possible. 47% + 27% for rent + 17.5% for savings... this leaves 8.5% for all my other expenses (including food and insurance!) Insurance is about 3.5%... 5% for food, clothes, and entertainment. Hmmmm... who needs entertainment when you have work? But food costs about 7.6% at minimum. :\
I might have to go on the multi-year plan with these things as well.
It's all complicated by the fact that someone of my advanced age should start thinking about retirement. I looked into getting a Roth-IRA but at the time I didn't even have enough money to open one (who knew you needed money to open one?!)
I think I'll wait on that... after all, my worthless [hypothetical, future] kids will probably waste all that retirement money on worthless liberal arts educations where they'll become worthless geology majors who spend most of their 20s hiding in grad school instead of getting a real job.
Speaking of which, if I somehow got a job that pays 10x more than I make now, my spending goals would seem a bit more reasonable. I knew a guy who was hired right out of college with such a salary (you could, too, if you have a penchant linear algebra, matricies, and high finance.) Even 2x or 5x would make a difference. x1.5 more. Throw me a bone here.
hmmmmmmmmm... the possibilities... too bad I plan to spend the rest of my twenties being an adventuring vagabond instead of compounding interest and building equity.
Guten Herr Morgan
Friday. 9.26.08 9:22 am
"When I came down this morning I thought everyone knew who I was because they kept saying, 'Morgen, Morgen, Guten Morgen'."
Life on Planets Around Other Stars
Thursday. 9.25.08 5:42 am
Clouds are extremely complicated. Perhaps you are well acquainted with the complexity of clouds from lying on your back in the grass some fine summer day and studying their slow, graceful billowing movement across the sky, but clouds are complicated are extremely difficult to model properly, as well.
For one thing, they can cause either global cooling or global warming. Many clouds are white, so they reflect incoming radiation back into space, causing cooling. However, they are also rather opaque at the longer, thermal wavelengths where the Earth emits its strongest radiation. Thus they contribute to the greenhouse effect and cause global warming. Oftentimes, the effects of clouds depend on where in the atmosphere they are forming (tropospheric clouds? statospheric clouds?) On the Earth, the air tends to cool as you go upwards into the troposphere. At the boundary of the troposphere and the stratosphere, the trend reverses, and the heat goes up. You are losing the Earth's radiative heat, but you are approaching the ozone layer, which traps a large amount of radiation in the upper stratosphere (as a side note, the fact that the stratosphere has its hot layers above its cool layers means that it doesn't have to convect, which is why it's such a nice smooth place to fly planes). As you go further into the vacuum of space through the mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere, the temperature goes down again.
A lovely fellow here at the meeting has been working on something quite interesting… he has been modeling the effect of clouds on planets around other stars. Now some extra-solar planets can be seen with telescopes (the large ones) but the majority of planets can only be inferred by the gravitational effect they have on their parent star or the slight dimming of the star when the planet passes in front of it (occultation). Naturally we can’t tell if these planets have clouds at all, making the effort mainly a thought experiment. But the results are actually quite stunning: if you take a planet with an atmosphere like the Earth’s, and you place it at the distance from its star to deliver an Earth-like heat budget, you can isolate the effect that the dominant wavelength of the star has on what the clouds do. The size of the cloud particles do not change, you see, but since the wavelength of the light is changing, the degree to which the cloud particles scatter and reflect the incoming light changes- even the type of scattering that takes place can change. This leads to either a cooling or warming feedback loop that completely changes the thermal structure of the atmosphere, and the temperatures of the surface. Thus even if you lived at the absolutely appropriate distance from a star, even if you lived on a planet exactly like the Earth in every way, the fact that your star was an M star or whatever crazy kind of star would make your life completely different, even, perhaps, impossible.
One woman even took this consideration to determine what color plants would be on planets around extra-solar planets, and you could get purple plants or blue plants or any number of shades of planets as the plants would optimize the way they gathered their light. If humans existed there, they might see in a totally different wavelength range, because what we now call the “visible” spectrum is really just where the sun’s maximum light output is, making our eyes perfectly attuned to make maximum use of the energy that is available to us.
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