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
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.
Thursday. 9.18.08 4:38 pm
Turns out they have the internet in Germany. Who would have guessed? I'm still not going to write a real entry though, because I'm LAZY!!!
I also haven't slept in 32.5 hours. But I ate chocolate mousse. And pretzels.
Bis Morgen! TchuuuuuusssssSSSSSS.
Entries I Planned to Write
Tuesday. 9.16.08 1:31 am
I was planning to write an entry about the creature that has wreaked more havoc on the Earth's atmosphere than any other in geologic time, changing history and the very course of the evolution of life itself.
I am, of course, talking about photosynthetic algae.
But I have to go to Germany for 1.5 weeks. So tragic. I will see if I have time before I leave.
Meanwhile, ponder the skeletons of these mindlessly polluting creatures:
A CLIFF of skeletons!!
See what horror they have wrought!
My Zero Sum Day
Wednesday. 9.10.08 8:27 pm
So, uh, let's see, where do I start?
Phase Equilibrium class was awesome this morning.
Then my advisor decided to get into the habit of saying, "Don't SCREW THIS UP." after everything he tells me to do.
Then I ate half a taco salad.
Then Fluid Mechanics was cancelled.
Then my boss's wife made me violently angry with a comment about my appearance and having been harrassed in general for the last couple of days I reacted by saying nothing and walking away abruptly.
Then I shared my research with this nice professor, who gave me lots of tips and good advice on academic life.
Then I got an email from my boss's wife asking if she'd offended me and that she hadn't meant to and she was very sorry.
Then I was very upset and since it was almost the end of the day anyway, I left. To cool off, I decided to go for a drive.
I had no gas, and the floor carpets reeked of dampness because of the leaking car.
I went to the gas station and filled up and vacuumed out the whole car, making it smell very nice.
Then I decided to buy some stationery so I could write back to Ranor.
I got on the highway, which is usually faster, but it was bumper to bumper traffic through the whole city.
A nice Mexican guy in a Mack truck let me in.
After ten minutes, this same guy ran smack into the back of my car.
We went to the side of the highway, where he got out and inquired about my health and we examined my car, which looked totally fine and undamaged.
I was fine, and I racistly like Mexicans because I think they are hard working, so we shook hands and part ways.
Target had only lame stationery, and Michael's didn't have any at all.
Target had all three Rambo movies as a set for only $19.99!
I realized that the trunk of my car is bent ever so slightly, meaning that it works, but there may now be a slight gap between it and the rubber that makes it seal.
This doesn't really matter because the trunk leaks anyway.
I eat delicious teriyaki casserole while watching Rambo III.
I think all of these events end up cancelling each other out.
Monday. 9.8.08 1:03 am
People Like You
Saturday. 9.6.08 9:37 pm
"Welcome!" said the Christian woman, gesturing us into her house. I could tell already that she was staff-- they have that perpetually wide smile and a nice cheerfulness about them that seems so intense it must be fake. But it never, ever wanes. Maybe that's just the Spirit of Christ, manifesting itself in the Intervarsity staff like a happiness disease.
I always imagined the Holy Ghost as a strong, warm glow that lived deep in my person, kind of the way a gas fireplace has that constant little flame way in the back that gets turned up in times of need or danger.
But for some people perhaps it is an all-consuming condition, kind of like being injected with botox, which makes you permanently happy and friendly no matter what.
We told her we were from the geology department, and from her reaction we could have told her we were from Mars... perhaps the geology department isn't the first place you'd expect to find Christians. After marveling at us, she said, "So you guys all found each other in the department, and then you found us."
She made it sound like a big secret club, like we had found out that we were all secretly communists, and after having admitted it one to each other, we'd finally found a den of communists with which we could sit and plan a revolution.
To be fair, it had been a bit that way when it all began. Angle had run into me in the basement and said, "Ah! I've been looking for you!" I am almost never in the basement, so I was startled. "There's a rumor going around about you..." she began, a little nervously. I had absolutely no idea how she would continue. "Sam told me that you were... lowering her voice... sort of, ok with... you know... the whole... going to church thing?"
That was pretty much the last thing I'd expected her to say, but I heartily agreed and she asked me to go to the Ash Wednesday service with her. She admitted later that she was nervous to ask, because if she got it wrong, how would I have reacted? It was a sensitive subject, particularly in the Geology Department, bastion of the Big Bang, the Ancient Solar System, Non-Geocentrism, The Origins of Life, The Theory of Evolution, The Non-Uniqueness of Man, and the Ultimate Demise of Modern Man at his own Hand to the Vast Indifference of the Universe.
We had found Cheeky the easy way-- Facebook. The Christian woman revealed to us that our beloved secretary, a veritable saint herself, was also a very active Christian. She told us it would warm her heart to know that we, too, were secretly Christians. So many new faces in the secret club! With the new students Mark #3 and Cheeky, and then Angle, Samwise and the Saint, we had 6 Christians in the geology department. Which, with staff, probably consists of about 80 people.
There may be others...
For the rest of the night we discussed such taboo subjects as where we went to church, what kind of church we grew up in, how one ministers to different age subsets, and how we could help in spreading the word about the group to more People Like Us. People who were Looking. People Like Us, who felt all alone in their departments. For the first time in a very long time, I felt secure to discuss my faith.
I drove home, and Angle discovered to her dismay that during the current storm (Tropical Storm Hanna) the roof of my car began leaking, dripping water on the backseat and the floor, much to the delight of several species of mold. It is leaking through the back window, which I had replaced five years ago when someone who didn't like my political beliefs smashed the window in with a baseball bat. Maybe, in these open and tolerant small universities, it is still best to save discussion of one's closest beliefs and ideals for behind closed doors during off-campus barbecues, among People Like You.
Hottest Presidential Race in History?
Friday. 9.5.08 6:24 pm
Last night, I learned something new about Senator John McCain. That is, when he was young, he was hot.
(on the left)
Yes, America, John McCain wasn't bad looking as a young man.
(I met him, you know. Granted he wasn't that hot when I met him.)
Who could torture that man?
Add to that the Palin family:
Then we have the adorable Obama family:
And the Bidens:
Well, the wife's not bad, anyway.
Add that foxy Cindy McCain to the mix, and I think we may have ourselves the best looking presidential race in HISTORY!
EDIT re: randomjunk-- From all appearances, Woodrow Wilson would be rated NOT in the eternal HOT or NOT. However, it is somewhat unfair because I can't find any pictures of him as a young man. On the other hand, T. Roosevelt???
PS- To be truly disturbed, you should probably check out this link.
A Martian Weather Report
Thursday. 9.4.08 8:59 pm
Remember: if you run out of small talk, you can always change the subject from the weather in your area to the weather ON MARS.
Here is the current weather on Mars:
The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) on the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) images the whole planet of Mars once every day so that we can watch the weather. There is even a movie which shows roughly how the weather has been changing for the last couple of days.
You can see the northern polar ice cap, and all the other white parts are clouds, made up of water and CO2, sometimes with dust mixed in. These clouds can get quite thick, and they often settle around the tops of mountains, just like here on Earth. There have even been cyclones on Mars:
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