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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. 37
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 � 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
A Gentleman in Russia
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism
Seneca: Letters from a Stoic
The Juanes Module

Juanes just needed his own mod. Who can disagree.
Extracurriculars 101
Monday. 4.16.07 11:32 pm
So I'm thinking I need to get out more. You know, make some friends outside of the department, seeing as the only thing that department people do is drink beer, do work, and complain about doing work.

I'm in the market, as they say, for a nice group of friends. How do I go about that? Well, I'm thinking mebbe I should join a nice club. It's a little difficult seeing as it's almost the end of the semester and then all those lazy undergraduates will go home for the summer, but it's not too early to be thinking about what kind of club I'd like to join.

I'm trying to meet several criteria:

1. People that do this activity would make good friends
2. This activity is something I actually like to do
3. Won't take up a HUGE amount of time, but still meets often enough so I can get to know people.
4. Isn't the kind of activity where whatever you are doing prevents you form actually getting to know or talking to the people with whom you are doing the activity (i.e. ballet)
5. Friendly towards graduate students

Here are some options, mostly based on criterion number 2:

German Club
Argentine Tango Club
Salsa Club
Taiko Drumming
Mariachi de Brown
Climbing Wall club
Yacht Club
Breakdancing Club
Christian Fellowship

There is a kinda cool-looking gospel choir thing but they talk a lot about the Black Church in their description so I kinda get the impression that I wouldn't be that welcome, due to the color of my skin. Same with all of the ethnic clubs except for the Swiss one and the German one. Maybe the Celtic one, but those people tend to be rather exclusive, too.
Christian Fellowship would be cool, but I happened to know that one of my former students goes to that pretty regularly, and I wouldn't want him to think I was stalking him....

Sucks that they don't have a drawing club. Or a movie-making club. That would be RIGHT-ON. So now that we've gotten a list of potential clubs, let's discuss the kind of people I would likely meet in each of these clubs:

German Club
Huge nerds
Argentine Tango Club
girls who are very full of it/sketchy guys/guys who don't brush their teeth
Salsa Club
Same as above; possibly no guys at all
Taiko Drumming
Japanese people/very pale white Japanophiles slightly more athletic/social than those in the Anime Club
Mariachi de Brown
Mexicans/Trumpet players
Climbing Wall club
Yacht Club
Breakdancing Club
Christian Fellowship
*Super* *Nice* people/People who say obnoxious things like "How is your Walk?"


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From Helena's blog
Monday. 4.16.07 10:19 pm

Harry Potter House Sorting

The sorting hat has decided to place you in...Ravenclaw! Congratulations! Intelligent and just a tad bit stuck-up, it's your wit which sets you apart from the other houses. Your drive for constant improvement in yourself and your peers makes you fiercely competitive; both in class and out. You may always rush to prove that you better than others, but don't worry; your friends and family already know you're spectacular! So just sit back, relax, and let someone else answer the question about the moon's cycles.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Too close to home... a little too close to home.

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Under my Umbrella, eh eh eh
Monday. 4.16.07 12:06 pm
When the sun shines
We’ll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
That I'll always be your friend
Took an oath I'm gonna stick it out 'til the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we still have each other
You can stand under my Umbrella
You can stand under my Umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)

.... yeah... it's raining.

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Sunday. 4.15.07 6:16 pm
Ok--- survey time!!

My roommates are fighting (again). These are the ones who are going out with each other. He is running the Boston Marathon. For part of the race, the runners run past Wellesley College, her alma mater. It's a tradition of the girls of Wellesley to stand out there and cheer on the runners and go crazy if someone runs by wearing a Wellesley shirt. She has given him a shirt for this purpose. They decided it would be fun for her to go up there and cheer him on at this point, and also so she can visit her school and some of her buddies (she just graduated last year).

She has been harping on him to figure out when the race actually starts, because he keeps saying 11, 11:30 and she is afraid he'll miss it. Plus he has to take public transportation, because he locked his keys in his car and he hasn't yet paid to have the car opened. She could just drive him, but she says she has to plan a lot for that and it would be a pain to fight through traffic and drop him and then drive all the way back to Wellesley, so he said that he can just take the bus and it will stress her out less. But then she thinks maybe they should take the bus together, but then he says that he would like it if she would be at the finish line when he comes across. She says, "WHAT! I have to come and watch you in TWO places?!" and he says, "You aren't going to come to the finish line?!?" and she says that she doesn't know if she can because she has to "do this thing". He asks what it is, she says that it's "just this thing for work". He asks about it and she gets mad and asks why he has to be this way. He says, "FINE! DON'T COME TO THE FINISH LINE IF IT WOULD BE SO INCONVENIENT!" She says ok as if she didn't catch the sarcasm there. She says, "aren't your friends going to be there? Aren't your parents going to be there?" knowing pretty much full well that they won't. She says that she wouldn't be able to find him there anyway because there will be too many people. He says that with cell phones, it's easy. They end with a decrescendo of saying the exact same things to each other only in a nicer and more reasonable way. He says that it would really mean a lot for her to be at the finish line, but if she really can't, he doesn't want it to be a thing. She says that maybe she will come to the finish line, she just doesn't know right now. They look up the time of the race online and it's about 11 or 11:30, depending on what wave he decides to run with.




Ok, you didn't think that was going to be the question? You may also answer the question, "Who is being more unreasonable... him, asking her to do all of these things on a Monday (aka a work day) or her, for not supporting him in his race?"

And perhaps most importantly...

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The Invisible Parking Attendant
Thursday. 4.12.07 3:14 am
So I slaved away for hours and hours, studying for my exam, doing my hydrology problem set, agonizing about fluid dynamics, getting snarky emails from my professor, reading in the handbook about how one goes about dropping a class in the final weeks of the semester, justifying it to myself in my mind and thinking of how I could justify it to my advisor, going to the library to check out more books on programming, etc. Mostly studying for my midterm which is tomorrow. I even cleaned my whole house for when K shows up tomorrow. So I get done at 3:00am. Pack up, go outside, it's about 3:02. Oh look, what's that crammed in my door jam??

a parking ticket.

15 bucks, overnight parking violation.

Ticket says it was given at 3am. Oh, that's funny, because whoever gave me this ticket wouldn't have had time to walk away since 3am! I should still see them, tearing the little envelope out of the book! They must have a INVISIBILITY CLOAK! This is the coolest parking ticket I've ever gotten because the person who gave it to me was INVISIBLE!

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One Month for Everything
Wednesday. 4.11.07 6:12 pm
Ok, so perhaps I've told you about this lovely fluid dynamics class of mine before. The one that seems so tantalizingly possible and yet is totally impossible? Yeah, that one.

This is the sad tale that I know as reality:

On the first day of class, I go to the classroom about 7 minutes early so that I know that I'll find the room, since it's in a different department. When I reach the room, there is a sign on it with the number of my course that draws my attention. Below the number it says, "Today this class will begin at 3:00pm instead of 2:00pm"

"Rats," I say to myself, "I have walked all the way over here in the freezing Rhode Island January just to walk all the way back to my department and then walk all the way back over here an hour later?"

But I do it, wasting an hour doing nothing in my lab until 3.

When I arrive at the class, it has already been underway for an hour!!! Oh no, what is going on?
"Oh," says the professor, "Did you two (me and the other geology guy who'd independently come early and seen the sign and returned an hour later) see that sign?" We did, we answer. "Ah," he continues, "my secretary put that up there, it wasn't supposed to be there so I took it down."

...apparently all the other people in the class had arrived late, when the sign had already been taken down.

I quickly caught onto the material and the class went on, like a river flowing to the sea. Not a big deal. The first homework assignment? Piece of cake, all linear algebra. I begin to think I've got this covered.

Oh ho. No. No indeed.

The homework has no particular "due date"--- it's all due at the very end of the semester. I try the second homework assignment... can't really do it... I've got the concepts down, but I have no idea how to do the programming. What shall I do? I figure maybe we'll cover that eventually. Am I supposed to know this already? Was there a pre-req? As time passes, I begin to worry deeply. Deep worry-lines, in fact, appear on my face. The river looks less like a series of meanders on a flat flood plain and more like a braided stream with high gradient heading towards a waterfall. I doubt my very worth as a human being.

But lo! See what I discover the other week! Apparently, during this precious first hour of class, he'd told us all that we had to get a particular textbook. This textbook teaches us everything we need to know that he is not going to take time to teach us but which is absolutely essential in doing the work for the class.
I finally get my hands on the textbook, the manual to All Life. Wow, this class would have been 1000% easier and made 1000% more sense had I had this book all along. I read it like it is oxygen for several days. I do not recommend this kind of "panic reading"... it's hard to get the stuff to really stick. I start the homework... I have all the available tools now! I can do this!

But it's programming, and if you know anything about programming, you know that it is fraught with peril. The kind of peril that takes the uninitiated 10 hours to resolve and those with knowledge about three seconds. All I need is SOMEBODY who knows enough scientific function-oriented knowledge of C++ (and what I'm trying to do in numerical methods) to answer my basic level questions about it. Like someone else in the class, or a TA or something.


This is the email I get back from my professor just now after I write him my insanity-driven plea for aid:

"Hi -- I am traveling and will be back on Friday -- we can talk then.
J N, [email protected]___.edu, is the TA and he is very good in

That was probably something ELSE rather IMPORTANT that was likely discussed during the first hour of the course.

Thus I have about one month to do everything.

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The Statistics of Breast Cancer
Tuesday. 4.10.07 9:17 pm
Today we learned something interesting in class!

We learned about Bayesian statistics and why they're important to the way you read the news, or live your life. This is how it goes: say you're a woman in your 40s and your doctor says to you, "In order to save yourself from breast cancer, you should have a mammogram every year." You know, knowing things as you do, that a mammogram isn't the most unobtrusive or benign tests there are to be taken. For one, you're exposed to radiation, which can cause cancer. It takes time out of the work day, it is uncomfortable, and it is costly. If your test is a false positive, the consequences of taking such a test can become even more serious. Some people upon hearing that they have a dangerous cancer can become depressed, angry, or suicidal. It is a shock wave into their lives... the couple of weeks that it takes to prove that it was a false alarm can be agony, and they have to suffer for no good reason. Sometimes they have to take biopsies to further test for cancer, which can be invasive and sometimes disfiguring.

But come ON! What are the chances of a false positive, especially when the test is 95% accurate!

Actually, no. It is not 95% accurate. If you have cancer, the test will come back positive 95% of the time. That means that 5% of the time, you will get a false negative. This is the worst result because the patient who has cancer might not know about it until her next mammogram, a year or two away. 2% of the time you get a false positive. So 98% of the time, if you don't have cancer, the test comes back negative. But let's turn that statistic on its head. Let's say that you get a positive test result. How likely is it that you really have cancer? Actually it turns out to be about 4.5%!! Whaaaaa, you say, but the test is right 98% of the time, how can your positive test result have 95.5% chance of being false???
Well think about it... let's say we have a hundred thousand women who are between the ages of 40 and 50. In this age range, the chance that you have cancer is about .001%. Thus 100 of these women have cancer and 99900 of them don't. Of the 100 women who do, 95 of them will test positive. Of the 99900 who don't, 2% will test positive. That's still 1998 people!! That means 1998 + 95 = 2093 people will test positive all together. So if 95 out of those 2093 people have cancer, that means that if you test positive, you have a 95/2093 chance of having cancer... which is 4.5%.

Of course, when you get between 50 and 60, the chance that you have cancer is more than .001%, so much so that if you test positive, you have about a 30% chance of actually having cancer. So the discussion goes, "Should we test women between the ages of 40 and 50 as often as we do, knowing that more 99.9% are going to test negative, and knowing that out of those who test positive, 95.5% of those are going to be false positives, causing grievous emotional harm and stress not only to the woman herself but for her entire family?

My opinion of the matter is yes, we should still test them, because despite all of these statistics, you'll either have cancer or you won't. If you have cancer, your chance of having cancer is 1. BUT, your chance of beating said cancer can be much higher if they catch it early. So I think the "emotional trauma" done to the 1998 women who get false positives is worth possibly saving the lives of the 95 who actually have cancer. Wouldn't even the 1998 false positives still say that, even after going through their ordeals? If you asked 19 women to go through three weeks of emotional hell in order to increase the chances of saving the life of one woman whom they don't know, would they agree to do it?
In order to do this mathematically, you'd have to see the statistics on how many people actually fall into depressions or commit suicide after hearing such a diagnosis, how many biopsies are botched, how much radiation one gets from each mammogram, etc., and see how that balances against risking not catching the breast cancer right away in the 95 women out of 100,000 who will have it and be diagnosed correctly. Then you could decide if you could minimize potential harm by having the mammograms a bit less often through your 40s.

Anyway, Bayesian statistics are really important to think about if you're reading the newspaper and they talk about the reliability of a test or something like it, because it isn't always the reliability of the test that's important (if you have cancer, how good are they at catching it?) but also the probability that another condition is true (how probable is it that you actually have cancer?) As you can see, figuring that in can really change your answer!

So I guess the moral of the story is to know that if you are diagnosed with cancer when you are young you really shouldn't freak out, because there's a large chance that it was just a mistake!

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Tuesday. 4.10.07 7:30 pm
So, uh, 1. I quit La Vida Secreta. yeah. Hopefully our fearless leader won't flip. ::update:: just got an email from her, she didn't flip. phew.:::: So much for my attempt at a secret life. Next time I'm going to get a secret life that takes place late at night instead of one that takes place at 8 in the freakin' morning. And hopefully I'll choose one that requires a lot less work. And hopefully one that involves more spying, climbing on rocks, and making out with boys. And music. Since first semester my secret life improved my physical health, and this semester my secret life was academic in nature, I'm thinking for my next semester it shall be a music-related secret life. (Guitar, anyone?)

2. I also wrote my fluid dynamics prof to tell him that I was "panicking" and I needed some serious help with... everything. We'll see how he responds to that.

Meanwhile, I'm almost finished with my hydrology final project and after today I have one *short* problem set between me and being done with problems sets (except for in fluid dynamics, of course). I'm ahead of most people on my Inverse Theory project, and I think I did pretty well on my IT problem set for today (well, now that I think on it, right now I have 100% in that class and I'm about to ruin it with this problem set, but we can say that I did 'as well as can be expected' or perhaps, 'as well as anyone in the class with whom I can be fairly compared') We have the one and only exam of the class in there on Thursday. This is also the day that my fluid dynamics professor has office hours, and the day that my old roomie K is coming to visit me and stay at my house for the weekend. And the day before my last problem set is due. And the day that I'm supposed to finish up the little bit we have remaining on the hydrology project. And I'll have a meeting with my advisor where I'll tell him that I once again haven't done a single thing to further my research project. I might scribble random equations and variables on a printed sheet of unintelligible computer code to make sure it is sufficiently impossible for him to discover me.

Anyway, hopefully these two changes I have made in my life will make me feel less like I have an ulcer. Perhaps I can even try and stop chewing on my thumb knuckle, which has developed a callus. Maybe I can stop stalking through the office, my sunken, defective eyes screwed up to bring into focus, but not really see, the people in the hallway. Maybe I can stop constantly making lists. Maybe I can stop twitching. Though, if I were like Master Kahn, my erstwhile tae kwon do master, I would advise myself to channel my tension into keeping my abs constantly flexed, which he would tell me will give me a six-pack in no time. That sounds like an avenue for self improvement. FORWARD!

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