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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.

The Profile

Age. 34
Gender. Female
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
School. Other
» More info.
The World

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
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
My hero(s)
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER

Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
The Schedule
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
Looking Backwards
Wild Swans
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 Geomorphology
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
Cube Route
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
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Armageddon's Children
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
Crucial Conversations
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Dandelion Wine
To Sir, With Love
London Calling
Watership Down
The Invisible
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Host
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Help
Zion Andrews
The Unit
Quantum Brain
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
Memento Nora
The Name of the Wind
The Terror
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Libyan Sands
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Calculating 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 Martian
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
Red Mars
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye

want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
The Juanes Module

Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
Sunday. 1.20.08 5:59 pm
The surface of Mercury is a many-splendored thing. Let me put us into context: Mercury, the first planet in our Solar System, named for the messenger of the gods because of its fleet-footed movements across the sky.

Mercury is extremely difficult to view by telescope because it is so close to the sun. That means that whenever Mercury rises in the night sky, the sun is close behind it, or in front of it, making it extremely difficult to see. The giant, looming sun also poses the greatest difficulty in sending a spacecraft to the planet, which is the other reason that so little of it has been seen or mapped even though its existence has been known since thousands of years B.C. According to the people on the MESSENGER mission, the sun on Mercury would appear about three times as large as it does here on the Earth and would be 11 times as bright.

To send a spacecraft into orbit around Mercury requires incredible precision and a lot of planning. Mariner 10, the first spacecraft to view Mercury, was a flyby mission, meaning that it went into orbit around the sun at an orbit comparable to Mercury's, and then took pictures of the planet every time their two orbits intersected. This was over 30 years ago, and it was the first time that anyone had used the gravity of another planet (in this case Venus) to help the spacecraft along its way and to save the fuel it would take for course corrections.

It wouldn't take very long to fly a spacecraft straight at Mercury. However, by the time it arrived, it would be traveling at a tremendous speed, and the amount of fuel it would take to fight the ever-growing gravitational pull of the sun (which scales as a square to the inverse radius) would be unfeasible. Instead, the spacecraft travels towards Mercury in circles around the sun with ever lessening radii. In the case of MESSENGER, at the moment that the spacecraft was launched, it is traveling the same speed as the Earth, which is a little bit less than 70,000 mph. After making some changes in its speed and direction, it flies for a year before encountering the speeding Earth again. This time it uses the gravity well of the Earth to help modify its speed and direction, and it makes a slightly smaller circle which lines it up to intersect with the planet Venus. MESSENGER had two Venus flybys, each about a year apart and each modifying the trajectory just a bit, until it finally moved into the orbit of Mercury. You can control the way that a planet affects your flight path by planning how fast you will be going with respect to the planet (You can change this by changing your angle of approach) and how far away you are when you fly by (which changes the magnitude of the change that the planet can make in your trajectory).

On January 14th, the spacecraft flew by Mercury in the first of three flybys that it will complete before orbital insertion. Each flyby will slow down the spacecraft and prepare it to burn its thrusters and be captured by the gravity of the small planet. It is a great difficulty to avoid being drawn in by the immense gravity of the sun and to catch the gravity of the tiny planet Mercury.

um... I'll have to continue this later...

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The Tour of the Solar System (coming soon)
Friday. 1.18.08 1:50 pm
At the moment I am up to my eyes in pictures of Mercury. Maybe up to about 6 ft above my head. But upon my return to Earth, I will explain all of Mercury's mysteries! Except for those which are under embargo, of course, and those secrets of the solar system that I am saving so as to become rich and famous in the future. Those being relative terms.

In fact, I think I will embark upon ZANZIBAR'S TOUR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM... starting at the first planet, Mercury, of course, and moving outwards. But every voyage needs a crew...

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Wednesday. 1.16.08 6:15 pm

This is the side of Mercury never before visible to the HUMAN EYE!!!

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Tuesday. 1.15.08 6:39 pm
We've seen the other side. Buuuuut, I can't tell you about it yet. HAHAHAHHAA. Watch for the press release at 8 tonight.

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The Unknown Shall be Made Known
Sunday. 1.13.08 10:00 am
Well guys, looks like I have to fly down to NASA and be there when the images come down from the Mercury flyby and we see the side of Mercury that has never before been seen by spacecraft. No more will we have a globe of Mercury with half of it covered by a mysterious shroud of gray and marked "unknown". Yes, the hidden shall be revealed tomorrow, January 14th, 2008; the final frontier of the terrestrial planets will be explored; all things will be made known.

I'll be gone for like 8 days; I may or may not have internet access... according to my supervisor we're going to be working like 24 hours a day to get the pictures and data ready for public and scientific debut. So if you see a link about MERCURY on your MSN or Yahoo homepage, click it, and read about the intercrater plains, and think of me, your friend Zanzibar, slaving away at the Applied Physics Laboratory just for you. My job is so hard.

The Welshman: "Is there a problem with me getting access to NASA seeing as I'm not a native American?"
Jimothy: "I don't think any of us are Native Americans, actually..."

Jay: "A bag of Skittles says there's an alien civilization."
Me: "I'll take that bet."
Jay: "Uh, actually, lets make the bet 1 or 2 alien civilizations."
Me: "What if one is a suburb of the other?"

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North of Lake Chaubunagungamaug
Saturday. 1.12.08 9:22 am
The day was spent dilly-dallying. Everyone was distracted with anticipation. Around 2:30 the Welshman and I started making preparations, and Thalweg joined us around 2:45, too distracted to focus on work anymore. We piled into the Adventure Camry, picked up the Welshman's girlfriend, we'll call her the Coolest Chick Eva, and we headed for the Great North.

That was the year I entered Princeton. That is to say, 2008, when I drove into the small town of Princeton, Massachusetts. Before we knew it, we were there! The finest ski resort in Southern New England: Wachusett Mountain. You know the one, just a bit north of Lake Chaubunagungamaug?

We suited up and off we went, shedding any and all thoughts of work, Thursdays, or Providence, Rhode Island that remained lodged in our conscious minds and shredding some coarse false powder, which slid over our skis more like pellets of plastic than snow.

All might have gone well this night, if not for one thing: Thalweg, the fastest skiier known to man, had not yet learned to stop. So it was that we went on a very steep blue run with many jumps and Thalweg mistakenly took one of the largest jumps available and executed perfectly the face-land... that is, she landed directly on her face, and slid down the mountain on it a fair way until her Thalwegian visage was covered in blood.

After several chocolate-covered sugar-waffles at Das Waffle Haus and a trip to the ski patrol hut, we were back on the slopes, and had a representative from In Touch magazine been watching, they would have consulted a plastic surgeon which does not treat the star and he would have agreed most heartily that Thalweg had had some augmentation done to her upper lip, which was now near twice its previous size. Her spokesperson would be unavailable for comment.

The way home, marked by the deep sleep of the Welshman and the Coolest Chick Eva in the backseat of the Adventure Camry, and an unfortunate >1-hr detour into the state of Connecticut, was nonetheless a perfect ending for a perfect night of skiing, and a great mischevious self-satisfaction took over all of us, as we had just been in another world, and no one would know when we went to work the next day. Except Thalweg of course, who can't laugh without splitting her lip, but who assured curious passersby that the wound was cosmetic and that they should feel sorry for the slope itself, which had to be taken away in a stretcher. Many stretchers, really, given the size of the slope.

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Monday. 1.7.08 11:05 pm
You'd think a talk about traveling to Antarctica and studying the movements of glaciers would be interesting. You'd THINK. Somehow, scientists have the uncanny ability to make everything that is interesting sound mind-numbingly boring. I was out of water, the room was dark, the Welshman was snoozing.

"You have to be careful," cautioned the speaker in a dry voice, "because there are many crevasses."

CREVASSES! You could fall into a crevasse! So there's this volcano in Antarctica, Erebus, and it is covered in crevasse fields, and this guy was riding along on his snowmobile and he just went crazily over an ice bridge and the undergrad he was supposed to be leading just followed him because how is she supposed to know? But the weight of his snow mobile had weakened the bridge and she barely made it across. Hours later, the ice bridge was completely gone. Can you imagine? An undergrad?

Then again, there was that advisor who sent his student to do field work in Papua New Guinea and then he was eaten by CANNIBALS. We were thinking that it would be hard for that guy to get new students after that.

But CREVASSES! Imagine tooling along in your snowmobile, and then KABAM! A crevasse you didn't even know existed would collapse under your runners and you'd plummet like 50-100ft into your icy grave. But you wouldn't die, oh no, you'd merely break your leg, and then face the ultimate question between dehydration and hypothermia.

After musing on the subject for a time, I concluded that no matter what kind of shape I was in, I would attempt to climb out. I know in the movies you have to like wait for your brother to attempt a dangerous rescue mission in inclement weather, but I don't have a brother and we're assuming that I'm very far away from help. Like this one guy in Antarctica, he fell in a crevasse and the rest of his party had died by then except this one guy who I think died when they fell into the crevasse, and he had like a broken leg or something, and he CLIMBED OUT and like dragged himself all the way to safety. Those south pole missions, everyone was always falling into crevasses; one time one of the dogs fell in and before they could do anything, all the other dogs fell in because they're connected and then the whole sled of supplies fell in. You'd better believe those people starved to death. Well, many of them, anyway.

So I decided that despite the incredible, insane pain, I would definitely scale the side of that icy crevasse. There's no way at the present time that I (or most anyone else) could get the whole way up just using the upper body. No, I would have to put some weight on the leg. If only my fibula or something was broken that would be no biggy. I mean, I already did that once. It didn't work very well, I must admit, the fibuless leg is not good at bearing weight even discounting the pain, but really all you'd need is for it to be like a wooden peg-stub that you could put a little weight on to balance yourself up the side of the icy crevasse. Naturally you'd hope that you still had your ice pick, and that it hadn't found its way into your eye or your guts during the fall down. And hopefully you'll have crampons, which is frankly a word I try to avoid using because it sounds really gross and unpleasant.

And then I'd pull myself, inch by inch towards the top of the crevasse, and my half-crazed starving expedition-mates would throw me ropes and stuff, and I wouldn't know if it's because they want me to survive or because they were hoping to use my newly dead flesh as sustenance in the days to come. Like that guy who apparently killed his girlfriend and then chopped her up and was boiling a chunk of her flesh on the stove when the police arrived. Which begs the question: why boil? Everyone knows that straight boiling makes whatever it is taste dry!

This course of action could have several results, as I see it: either I make it to the top, in which case I might survive but it's still somewhat unlikely (I shall I always walk with a limp, how tragic!), I fall, injuring myself even worse, (after which I would definitely try again and be even more likely to fall), or lastly, that the pain from my broken appendage would be so much that I'd go into shock or pass out and succumb eventually to hypothermia without ever reawakening. I kind of like that idea better than regular hypothermia because I wouldn't actually have to feel any of it. But any way you frame it, I certainly would never just lie there and give up.

"I have no idea how you kept awake during that lecture," said the Welshman, well relieved to be on his way out of that dark and boring room.

I looked at him enigmatically.

"I have my ways."

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oh, cox!
Sunday. 1.6.08 12:08 am
I want to post an entry even though I have absolutely nothing to say. Hm. Today... it was Saturday, wasn't it? That changed my daily routine because it meant that I drove to work instead of walking. But otherwise, nothing was different. When I got home, I did the dishes. I think that took from 7 til 10:30. There were a lot of dishes.

In other news, I finally got my cox to work. That is, the internet at my house. It's flowing. Or whatever the interwebs does that makes it go. Sends packets? Series of tubes? It's always a relief to have working cox.

So I've been reading "Americans in Southeast Asia: The Roots of Commitment". It's a fantastic book. They tell you pretty much everything you never knew about World War II. I think everyone should read it before they start talking about politics today, because they'll see that everything that faces us today is just echoes of the past, wrapped up in newer packaging.
I was thinking that it must be hard to impose sanctions on a country. I bet your mood would always wax and wane between being really angry at the country for their human rights violations, and then reminiscing about the good old days when relations were good and thinking of all the people who were starving as a result of your sanctions. You would *almost* be tempted to get on the red phone and say, "Listen Cuba/North Korea... I just wanted to say that I've been thinking about you, and everything, and I'd like to send you a shipment of food/weapons/oil. I mean, it would only be ONE shipment of oil. It's not like everything's suddenly good now. But you know, one sentimental shipment of oil or pharmecuticals or corn, just for old time's sake."

But you just can't do that. Nope, old North Korea would see that as a sign of weakness. Mr. Jong Il would think that you're starting to crack, you see. You'd end up like the UN- laughable and powerless. In the case of Cuba, where the sanctions are kind of ridiculous at this point, and it's high time we flooded Cuba with American goods and culture, you'd have to just keep reminding yourself of Castro's transgressions so that you could revive that latent bitterness towards Communism and remember why you were doing this in the first place. It's the principle of the thing, after all. You must be firm.

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