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 ŕ 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
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."
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.
Chinese Water and Other Tortures
Saturday. 1.5.08 12:08 am
So I suppose prospective student season has started again. PROSPIES. Did it ever end? Today we had Mr. Black to call. How might I describe him? He was a boy you could bring home to your Ranor.
You know, the half-asian type. Harvard grad. Currently on a Fulbright in Iceland studying gullies. Good-natured, with a little mischevious Brendanness stifled behind his good-behavior.
We thought he wasn't on facebook, so we were initially going to write him off. "How are we supposed to know whether he's hot or not?" fumed Jay. "What a waste of TIME!" None of us in the seafloor lab had idea whether we should spend the morning writing our abstracts that are due on the 8th or if we should be spending that time primping. There really was no question for Jay. The prospie had cited Jay in his abstract on gullies that he had submitted to the conference that Jay is running. He had Jay at gullies.
But as it turned out, he was on facebook, and he had Caleb at Zax. Yes, that is the highest scoring three-letter Scrabble word, and Mr. Black knew what it was. Scrabble nerd? Et tu, Black?
We went to dinner and Mr. Black enquired after our Antarctica program. "Do you guys always get along down there?"
My advisor gathered himself for his carefully-worded speech. "We have a good group here. We have a good dynamic," he began politely. "And we pre-select a great deal." he glanced at us, as if he were unsure about giving away his secrets.
"I have them into my office and I have the window open. I don't leave the window open because I like to be cold... I just like to see how they react."
It's true. He does have the window open on the most ridiculously cold days. But it's because he likes it cold. ISN'T IT?
"And that's also why you have the water slowly dripping from the ceiling?" I added.
"He fancies himself a psychologist," said Jay later.
Perhaps he'll take that prospective to Antarctica some day. I WANT TO GO TO ANTARCTICA. I promise I won't have a break down, or go mad. But I wouldn't begrudge the prospie the trip. After all, he had me at "I live in Iceland."
Falling Colorado Snow
Saturday. 12.29.07 3:32 am
It has been snowing just about every other day. When I came home last night my street was sparkling in my headlights as I drove. Tonight I went to get into my car and I looked out into the blackness and everything was silent. There is a more profound silence that can only be obtained after a snow, and this was it. But every street and every shop, every intersection, every type of weather, holds for me a memory in this place.
Return to Nutang
Thursday. 12.27.07 5:49 pm
Well, it's been a while. That might be the most common way of opening an entry on Nutang. A lot has happened, so I'll just give a short pictoral history of the last couple of weeks:
hmm... I have more pictures to add to this but my computer needs a rest, poor dear. And I have a Mario Party Party to attend.
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Tuesday. 12.25.07 1:55 am
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
My Day, in Graphical Format
Thursday. 11.29.07 2:10 am
Note normal peaks around mealtimes, and anomalous peak around 2pm coinciding with meeting with Lionel, who appeared as if from heaven to inform me about volcanoes just in the nick of time. The low around 7 should actually be around 6:45, and the value is actually more like negative infinity, so it was scaled to be within the range of this graph.
To Each His Own Umbrella
Saturday. 11.24.07 10:38 pm
I was talking about "Looking Backwards" by Edward Bellamy. Again. I talk about that book a lot because it is very interesting and not that many people have read it. Looking Backwards is a book written in 1888 about what the world was going to be like in the year 2000. Read it!
But the reason I'd brought it up was that in Bellamy's modern-day Boston, there were awnings that rolled out from the buildings to cover the sidewalks when it rained, which meant that nobody got wet (in his day the rain would turn the dirt streets into a muddy morass). I said even though I wasn't fond of socialism, it was kind of appealing, wasn't it, that analogy that under socialism we were all dry under a continuous awning and under capitalism each man had to carry his own umbrella. At least, in the literal sense of not getting wet.
I'd thought of it because that morning I'd been riding my bike through the rain and I'd had to squeeze around a woman with a gigantic golf umbrella, who was keeping herself dry but taking up the entire sidewalk, and I was struck by the feeling that that was what people must see when they say that they don't like capitalism... they must see that big fat woman with that even bigger and fatter umbrella, much too large to keep her dry, but drying no one else and just inconveniencing further those who were already wet.
I was rhapsodizing about how lovely it would be to put an awning over all of us.
Once again Thalweg would humor me, since this conversation about socialism had come completely out of the blue and all she'd really wanted was a person to eat pizza with her during her break between labs.
Thalweg likes the idea that each man should carry his own umbrella. That way, each man is completely in control of his own destiny. Imagine that you are walking along under the government-provided awning, and there is a gap in it, or you realize that you must dash over to a place that it not covered under the government's awning. Had there been no awning, you would have probably brought an umbrella, and this would not be a problem. If you'd forgotten to bring the umbrella, you would only have yourself to blame for getting wet and you'd remember for next time. But if you expected that the government provide your awning and they failed you, you would be angry at the government, and you would blame the government for the fact that you are wet. This would happen, even though the fact that the government usually provides an awning should be seen as an unexpected luxury, and a fail-safe for those poor folks who are forgetful about their umbrellas. You would start to depend on the government's awnings, and blame your wetness on the government's failure to provide for man's basic need to stay dry.
And as they say, a man who fails is only a failure when he begins to blame someone else.
So I must say I've been swayed to Wise Thalweg's way of thinking, and next time I walk in the rain I won't feel angry at the woman with the large golf umbrella, I'll feel in control of my own destiny and upright with the knowledge that regardless of what the woman with the golf umbrella does, the decision as to whether or not I personally stay dry is completely up to me.
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