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
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.
Friday. 11.23.07 12:29 am
It's Thanksgiving, and when I look back at the past year, I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for.
I shall try to enumerate these things in my prayers tonight.
I like to structure my prayers thusly: regular Our Father. One must linger upon the phrase, "Give us this day our daily bread."
I heard a good sermon about this line once. He was talking about how important this part of the prayer is. This prayer does not ask for happiness, or riches, or security. We ask for enough to get us through just this one day, today. We ask only for our daily bread. We don't ask for our daily eclaire, or our daily meringue, because we don't need anything more fancy than to just get by. Just a day's share of hope, and kindness, and encouragement; just a day's share of inspiration, that's all we ask, that's all we need.
Then I ask God to bless everyone I know (and quite a few people I don't). Then prayers for people who need extra love and attention, or who are suffering. Finally, when all of these things are done, I have a free time where God and I can talk personally for a few minutes. Usually this seems like the right time to say thanks for everything I am grateful for. The chance to live, a beautiful day, the fall leaves, a special kindness experienced that day, my health, the sheer miracle of being self-aware and being able to explore the universe. This is how I fill the rest of my prayer. By the time I get to the end of the prayer, I have forgotten everything I might have been tempted to ask for, because I am overwhelmed by the number of things I have. I am embarrassed to ask for anything more than guidance or clarity. I make plans to be the kind of person who deserves it more than I do. Tonight my prayer will be extra long, because there are so many things to be thankful for there is no way I can make it through the entire list before I fall asleep.
Who Am I?
Sunday. 11.18.07 5:07 pm
Who Am I?
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cellâ€™s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!
Published March 4,1946
Dietrich BonhÃ¶ffer, a young theologian of great promise, was hanged by the Nazis for his participation in a plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. His writings have greatly influenced recent theological thought.
You can read more about Dietrich BonhÃ¶ffer here.
This all came from http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=385, which I found randomly on the internet when I googled, "Who am I?"
Good answer, O Google, Oracle of Fate!
We have a New Cat
Thursday. 11.15.07 2:11 am
Yes, we have new cat. His name is SandboxCat. Or... SandyCat, orrrr Catzor, or maybe Catzorito, since he's so skinny. He's a stray who was found by some undergraduate. She couldn't keep him in the dorm, so he came to live with us for a bit while we search for his owners. He's soooooooooooo CUUUUUUTE. Am I warming up to cats? Is that's what's happening? Cause this Catzor is sooooooo CUTE. He's striped, but in this awesome way, sandy-colored on the top and ashy-colored on the bottom. He's very skinny but with a fluffy face and crazy-colored tan eyes. And huge yam sacks. We'll have to address that at some point.
What this Catzor likes best is if you rub his belly. He loves people, so he'll just come over and snuggle. He's very calm and predictable. He'll be very easy to find a home for, but very hard to give away.
Maybe I'm starting to like cats because all the cats I have actually like people, which is a trait that is usually associated with dogs. My cats follow me around and beg for my attention, and when they don't get it they are mopey, but they obey.
Sandyboxcatzor also mewls like one of those sonic boom tubes, "wwaaaohn. wooouuuhhh. Wwwaaaaohn.... wooooouuuh."
We have him quarantined in the bicycle room to keep him separated from the other catzors until we can see if he has any diseases. Plus we don't know if they'd get along. I'll get a picture up soon.
From jinyu's blog
Monday. 11.12.07 7:46 pm
Definitely Military leader. But why can't I be a military leader, a judge, a political strategist, AND a surgeon, all at once?
"What's the color of horsesh*t? BROWN BROWN BROWN!"
Sunday. 11.11.07 12:20 am
So the Brown University Men's Soccer Team has won the Ivy League Championship!!!
This, after an EXTREMELY cold game which was 0-0 until there were about 14 minutes left. I was kept alive by my friends (Caleb and Jay (aka Jayleb) were leaving for Holland tonight, but they came to the game anyway and then just went straight to the Boston Airport from the game), the Welshman, and his girlfriend, who is really cool, and who apparently luged as a child in Northern Vermont. I also brought pistachios.
But GET THIS: they have this dude on the team who does this crazy throw-in where he does a front handspring using the ball instead of his hands on the upside down part, and then he throws in the ball. The amount of momentum he gets from this is extraordinary, and apparently the move is legal. So the goal was finally scored when he threw the ball from the sideline almost into the goal itself... it was tipped just barely at the last minute by one of his teammate's heads and the head of a defender and it went over the Dartmouth goalie (who was a really good goalie, btw) and into the goal. Nobody could believe it! So the credit for the goal went to the guy who tipped the ball with his head, but actually the crowd had just witnessed some guy doing a flip and throwing the soccer ball straight through the crowd of soccer players and into the goal. Freaking AWESOME. Everyone wanted an instant replay, but alas, it's college soccer. We have only our memories.
What have those Dartmouth fans to say now?
Why do matter and anti-matter hate each other so much?
Thursday. 11.8.07 1:08 am
I dedicate this entry to delightful Thalweg, even though she does not read this blog.
I don't think Thalweg shares to the same degree my penchant for pondering the mystical and unseen mysteries of the human state and the Universe, but she always indulges me anyway, and with good result, too!
For example, I am perpetually maddened by the idea that positive is attracted to negative. But WHY is positive attracted to negative? What about negative makes it attractive? It might have something to do with the spins of quarks, perhaps, but that just bumps the problem to another level. What about the spins of quarks make them attractive to one another? And another thing: electrons are in pairs. Even nuclides with an even number of protons or an even number of neutrons and especially both vastly outnumber nuclides with odd-odd numbers of protons and neutrons. WHY? Why do protons "like" to be in pairs?
Please tell me if you have the answer to these questions.
In this spirit, I was asking Thalweg WHY do things tend towards a low energy state? To say that things "like" to be at the lowest energy possible seems to endow random particles and blocks and elements with rather humanlike emotions. So why is this law of Thermodynamics true? I wasn't really expecting an answer, but Thalweg gave me a good one, and that is this: Objects lie about, not caring at what energy state they are (after all, they are only objects, and not cognizant of what is happening). If the object is a ball, and it is sitting at the top of a hill, any number of random forces can act on it. It is "metastable", meaning that it is not moving at the moment, but there are quite a lot of different things that *could* happen to it which would make it move. So eventually something happens to it. It could take a long time. It could be anything. Since it's metastable, it moves, and it falls down according to the force of gravity to the bottom of the hill (or if it is an iron-rich boulder, maybe it gets picks up by a magnetic tractor beam. Let's say it was gravity acting for now). At the bottom of the hill, just the same number of forces could happen to it, really... but even if they do... the ball won't move anymore. It just hasn't any place to go. So it stays there. So In The Beginning, God put everything at different levels of stability. The ones who were already stable just stayed that way. The ones who were not stable moved. The ones which were metastable have or will eventually move until they are stable, and then they will stop moving. So eventually, if enough forces act in the universe, everything will end up someplace stable, which only really means that they'll be in a place where the forces of the universe can't affect them anymore. You're only most likely to find things there because that is the state that they'll reside in the longest, because once they accidentally get there, there is no way of getting out. The ball will roll down the hill, the electron will go back down from its excited state, some random floating mass will accrete into a sphere in space.
I mean, all of this you learn the first time you encounter potential energy. Everyone knows this stuff. But they always say it the wrong way around! "Matter accretes into a ball because it is the most energetically stable configuration." TRUE! But that doesn't really explain causality! Matter accretes into a ball because there is such thing as gravity, and until the matter coalesces into a sphere, gravity is going to mess around with it. Gravity is going to just mess around with it until it just doesn't have anything to do anymore. So matter isn't arranging itself at ALL, it shouldn't even be the subject of the sentence... it's just sitting around letting something else arrange it until there is no more arranging that can be done.
So that bring us to the next questions: WHY are some configurations more energetically stable? Why do we only have a finite number of forces? WHY DOES GRAVITY EXIST? Why is matter attracted to other matter? What about matter makes it attractive to itself? Did God create gravity as a fundamentally homosexual force, while electromagnetism is fundamentally straight? Does this lead to an orderly array of electric and magnetic dipoles, boringly lined up along magnetic field lines, and then just a big cluster.... of mass?
I'll have to ask Thalweg.
Very Bad Decision Making
Tuesday. 11.6.07 6:08 pm
Two choices for tonight...
A) Play 8-player Mario Kart on gigantic projector screens all night with my Welsh friend, his roommate, and the entire Brown University Men's Soccer Team (ranked 2nd in the nation!)
B) Draw a circle around every crater on Mars within a 300kmx300km box, knowing as I do that my results will probably be meaningless at worst and indefensible at best. For a conference in the Netherlands that I don't even get to go to.
...I am going to die alone.
UPDATE!:: The Mario Kart Extravaganza was cancelled due to some problem with the people who were going to bring the GameCubes. Balderdash! But still, it is very convenient when Fate makes all my important decisions for me....
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