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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. 35
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 ŗ 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.
Friday. 5.15.15 1:04 am
On Monday I'm supposed to leave for a trip to Idaho, but I'm not really ready. I was supposed to spend all week (and last week) churning through data and making a poster about it.... but.... yah know... the data isn't as great as I had hoped. It requires a lot more math to make it look nice, and it may never look nice, even after all the math. That's the thing about the Real World. It doesn't always conform to the Theoretical Predictions. That's fine, but it's not really fine when I only have one night to make a poster.

I'm going to Boise, Idaho, which sounds kind of boring, but will actually be really cool. This is because we're going to a dune field on a field trip half-way through the meeting, and because after the meeting I'm going to Craters of the Moon National Park, which most people haven't heard of, but which is totally awesome. Especially if you like volcanoes, which I totally do. From there I'm going to drive to Yellowstone National Park, which I've never visited before. The world's largest volcanic caldera, and I've never visited it. Me. A Volcanologist. Ridiculous. I'm pretty excited about that. But I haven't really had time to think about it much because I've been running around like a madwoman doing other things. And procrastinating on this data analysis.

Like I'm doing right now.

Even though it is 10 pm, and this needs to be done tomorrow so that I can print it out at work before everything closes for the weekend.

All right, all right. I'll get to the poster. Fine. Please write some entries to entertain me in the middle of the night tonight. I'm looking at you, Malaysian Nutangers. ;)

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Nighttime on the Volcano
Thursday. 4.23.15 12:00 pm
We're trekking through the lava fields, this time at night. It's never a good idea to trek through a lava field, especially at night, but it took us hours longer than expected to set up my boundary layer wind experiment (christened "Sticky"), and by the time the 7-m mast was stable and the anemometers were happily whirring away, measuring the wind speed, the purple glow of twilight had settled across the volcano. We would never have attempted to navigate an a'a flow in the dark-- an a'a flow is like a field of razor-sharp glass shards unstably stacked on one another for hundreds of yards. This was an old tumuli field, which formed when a ropey plain of nearly cool lava was injected with fresh lava, inflating the surface and ultimately bursting through at regular junctures to make a stack like an out-of-control tube of toothpaste. This surface was old-- it had plants growing out of it and the surface was brown with oxidation. Any sharp shards that had been there at the beginning had been worn away with time and sulfuric acid. Still, each tumulus was taller than a man, and there were many hundreds between us and the parking lot, an hour's hike away. Instead of heading for the trail, we cut straight from the site of the anemometer mast towards our destination. We couldn't see the parking lot from here. It was just rolling hills covered with towering tumuli, like a desert of frozen sand dunes. We were walking between two enormous fault scarps, where the volcano had strained and buckled against its own skin and torn itself apart. It meant that we couldn't go too far off course. The moon rose overhead, round and full, bathing the terrain with a bright white light. We turned off our flashlights. The summit of the volcano glowed orange on the horizon, billowing smoke and sulfur dioxide. During the day it was a smoke signal, during the night a pillar of fire. The regular water clouds started out billowy at the top but had long, wispy tails like stretched cotton. The winds of the Pacific must be very strong up there tonight.
The stars came out. Despite the full moon they littered the sky, and the Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon. In moments like these it really hit you that you were in the middle of nowhere, all alone on a tiny island surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean. I skitter-stepped to avoid stepping on something on the ground. I had been stepping on rocks for going on 10 hours, but this one was different. I had recognized the shape in an instant, even in the dark. It was a tiny bomb.

During World War II, they decided that they had to practice bombing basaltic islands as a way to get ready for bombing the Japanese. They had turned this part of the main island of Hawaii into a bombing range, and they littered the volcano with ordnance. Not all of the bombs had exploded on impact, however, and to this day little unexploded bombs lie scattered across the National Park. Most of them are probably duds, but you never know. We had already found three or four and dutifully flagged them and geotagged them so that the park could come and dispose of them safely.

It may be a general rule that the danger that you find is seldom the danger you expect.

We no longer take shortcuts in the dark.

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Small Cows
Thursday. 4.9.15 2:39 pm
I'm not really sure how I end up on Indian Animal Care Websites, but when I do:

December 13, 2013
I have small cow in my home one year old, we take full care of her, and u can say it is one of our family member, but one of neighbour does not like it, and always threatens / argues with me regarding cow.
Pls tell me regarding laws how can I keep my cow in home, we are very serious regarding this matter.

December 13, 2013
Sir, please read what we have written above in this article, it can be used to file complaint against neighbour harassing anyone for any animal one is looking after..

Manu R Dwivedi. 09998219401
December 13, 2013
Thanks for the quick response, but only one doubt small cow can be kept in residential area in home. Bunglows etc.

December 13, 2013
Sir, if you have a bungalow and it is spacious enough then we donít see a problem to it..we know people who stay in Bungalows in Civil lines area of Delhi who keep cows at home for non commercial reasons.

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Fast Cars, Secret Laboratories, and Puppies Galore
Wednesday. 4.1.15 1:42 am
So I got some puppies. My roommate found them on the side of the road and now they are part of our family. Mine is a little boy named Juan Pablo. The other one is a girl and doesn't have a name yet. My roommate has been gone for the last week and a half in Spain so I've been a single dog mom to twins, and let me tell you, it is no piece of cake. It is actually all-consuming. My roommate just got back on Monday, so I turned the full force of my attention to the work that I had been neglecting and stayed at work until past midnight. Today was equally filled with activity, followed by a meeting for the new book club that I'd been invited to, and for which I definitely hadn't read the book. Oops. I got by by having read a magazine article about the book and having read a similar book. Whew. One of the most exciting things that happened today was that I got a key to a laboratory. It belongs to one of my bosses, but he hasn't used it in a while so it's all dusty. I think I'll be the only one in there..... my own secret laboratory!!!

The other exciting thing is that I went to Jiffy Lube on Saturday for a long overdue oil change, and I don't know what they put in there, but the car has roared to life like they turned the clock back on it by ten years. Today I got to drive it around on the highway and the acceleration was positively exhilarating. Tomorrow I have a second date with an ex - Marine movie producer [??], and then Friday morning I'm leaving with Juan Pablo and a bunch of JPL engineers to spend Easter weekend in Death Valley. (But I will fear no evil.) Busy. Times.

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Ice and Brimstone
Tuesday. 3.31.15 2:08 am
At last I will submit my sulfur paper tomorrow. The culmination of three years of toil and headaches. Within a few months it will likely return from review with fresh headaches.

My thinking has evolved a lot in the three years that I've been writing this paper-- I was just reading through my years of lab notes and documentation and it's crazy to remember all of the stages of this stupid paper, just for the final product of a few figures and some 10 pages of text. I MADE SO MANY GRAPHS THAT NO ONE WILL EVER SEE.

My final conclusion is that early Mars was probably covered in rivers of blood:

And by blood I mean sulfuric acid.

[Which is worse [???] Blood < Brimstone?]

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Thursday. 3.12.15 8:27 pm
I've been making a big effort to always fly United. You know, finally get some brand loyalty. Rack up some miles.

I flew United to Baltimore.
I flew United to Argentina, to my great annoyance.
I flew Air Canada to France, but I sneakily got a ticket that was cross-booked with United, so I could get miles without actually having to fly on their airline.

Today, as I prepared for yet another adventure on United, I wondered how many miles I'd gotten so far. And whether or not they were being counted, because I couldn't find my frequent flyer number on the itinerary.

Turns out I don't have a frequent flyer number. Nope. I never joined the program. I joined every OTHER airline program, including Southwest, Delta, United Airlines, etc., but never United (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?). On every itinerary my secretary wrote all of my frequent flyer numbers (for other companies). I had written on there that my preference was to fly on United..... I wonder if she ever wondered why I preferred to fly the ONLY AIRLINE FOR WHICH I DID NOT HAVE MILES!

At least this next trip (to Houston) will give me some miles. I asked my secretary to make the reservations so that I got in some time before noon on Saturday. I didn't look at my itinerary until now, and hey--- I'm getting in at 6:03 pm! Great! I guess I won't have to go to that pesky meeting that went from 12-6pm which was the entire reason that I wanted to FLY IN ON SATURDAY. At least I can take my dog to get his shots at 10:30 am, right? NOPE. My flight leaves at 12:45, which means that I have to leave for the airport at 10:30 am.

So that I can arrive in Houston at 6:03 pm.
So that I can hang around in the hotel doing nothing.


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Getting in Trouble
Thursday. 2.26.15 6:57 pm
I've been getting in trouble in almost every aspect of my life this week. I accidentally got in fights with two of my three roommates. I got called on the carpet by both of my head bosses for the two different programs I work for. I teetered on the brink of pissing off two girls that I had really hoped to make my friends. I didn't do any of these things on purpose, but it meant that I spent most of the week writing long explanatory emails, having awkward conversations, and putting out fires left and right. I gave up 9gag for Lent, and I gave up Facebook for the most part, allowing myself about a minute or two on Facebook a day. This week that felt like a mistake, since Facebook always gives me good news and my email and texts were just a continuous source of bad news. The office: bad vibes. My other office: bad vibes. My home: really bad vibes. I just wanted to drive to a random part of town and sit on a corner and try to dredge up some positive energy, but I was too busy running around trying to fix all of the messes I had somehow made. This week was especially bad, but it seems like ever since I started working here I've been in trouble more times than I've been out of trouble, just from sheer inexperience and ignorance about the way things are supposed to be done.

At last, today, I gave a talk about ancient Mars to some engineers.

And it went... well. Really well. I love love love talking about Mars.
And the girls that I wanted as friends got excited about it, too.
And my boss from that part of my life realized that that I wasn't trying to do anything bad and gave me his support.

And I got some advice.

Senior Engineer Guy: Man... tough week.
Me: Yeah. Really tough.
Senior Engineer Guy: What's been tough about your week?
Me: Well, I'm kind of new here, and it seems like I learn about every rule that exists by running afoul of it.
Senior Engineer Guy: Well, if I can offer you one piece of wise advice.... don't stop doing things. Even if everything you do gets you in trouble with the rules. Never stop doing things.

Well, I guess I'm going to go do some more things.

Here's to hoping I don't get in more trouble. :S

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The Road of Life
Wednesday. 2.18.15 1:12 pm
On the road of life, our teachers come in many forms. On the literal road, Cherry Creek High School Driver's Education and Dad were my main instructors. As I navigate the completely insane roads of the Los Angeles Basin, their lessons often roll through my mind.

The most important lesson that I learned from CCHSDE was through an informational video that they showed us in a simulator. In the simulation we were driving down a two-lane road crowded with parked cars on the right-hand side. On the other side of the line of parked cars was a sunny park filled with children playing. As we rolled along, the simulation would periodically stop to point things out. There-- a person inside one of the parked cars. The word "HAZARD" would appear in bright orange capital letters, with an arrow pointing to the person. Immediately afterwards the person would open the door of their car directly into traffic, requiring a quick brake. If you could identify the hazard (person in the car) before the action (opening the door), you could avoid hard brakes and close calls. And so it went-- kids playing with balls [HAZARD], pedestrians coming out from between parked cars [HAZARD], cyclists going straight when you're turning right [HAZARD!].
The bright orange capital letters and the HAZARD refrain are forever painted upon the scenery of my driving life.

Dad's lessons were similar, but his style was different. He had an eerie way of forecasting the actions of cars on the road far before they happened.

"Look at this car," he would say. "It's about to do something stupid."

And the car would. Every time.

At first I didn't understand how Dad was able to predict the future, but over time, as Dad patiently pointed out the stupid cars, I gained some level of predictive power myself... a feint in the direction of changing lanes... a turn signal turned on and then off again for a while... a propensity for changing lanes or passing on the right. I got the feel of the road and the people on it. I learned to read their subtle cues. Knowing that someone was about to do something stupid meant that I was prepared for it-- which made their action not so dangerous, at least for me. I learned to read Dad's subtle cues, too: clutching the handle on the top of the passenger side window... pressing an imaginary brake on the passenger side floor... a little uptick of his cheek and an intake of breath as he clenched his teeth in sheer terror. I worked hard to reduce these moments of concern... increasing my following distance, taking my foot off of the accelerator well before a stop... putting my foot on the brake when the brake lights of the cars in front of me were illuminated.

Terminology was important, too. Through the CCHSDE I learned about the meaning of things like "Yield", "Four-Way Stop" and "Flashing Yellow". From Dad I learned that people who drove significantly slower than you were "idiots" while people who drove significantly faster than you were "maniacs".

The people of the CCHSDE were many things-- boring, obsessed with mindless details, bureaucratic. As for Dad, he was brave. He taught all three of us kids how to drive when we were teenagers. He had to drive 50 hours with me, including 10 hours at night. We drove home from soccer practice, we drove on highways, we drove in parking lots. When were missing hours closing in on my 16th birthday, we drove all the way to Montana and back. We hit a goose. We traversed Wyoming. I tried to make an ill-advised left-hand turn, Dad panicked, I backed up into a man's side reflector. Dad took care of the talking while I tried not to laugh at the man's name: John Bobbitt. At the time I did not fully appreciate it, but 15 years of riding in cars with terrible drivers has cast new light on Dad's bravery.

Among the insane drivers of the LA Basin, my education continues. Moving across six lanes of traffic to reach an exit within a quarter of a mile... getting out of the way of people moving across six lanes of traffic to reach an exit within a quarter of a mile... parking on steep hills, downshifting on steep grades, avoiding scraping my car on gas-station entrances. I've come a long way along the road of life, and I can now take a lot of things for granted. Parallel parking: easy. Parallel parking on the left-hand side while driving an English car: no problem. Driving up rock-strewn dirt mountain roads: totally doable.

Taking a teacher like Dad for granted? HAZARD.

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