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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.
Graduate School
Monday. 4.2.07 1:57 pm
We were eating lunch together in the upstairs classroom as the clouds of another cold Providence day settled around the second floor of the geology building. For the first time in a while it was just us and there were no prospective students to impress.
W had just made another of his depressing remarks when R, who is working on finishing her Phd in the next year and who has just accepted a 3-year post doctoral position in order to stay here in Providence suddenly said,

"Oh come on! Is no one happy here but me?"

A very awkward and extremely ominous silence followed.

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parts of a random song I wrote
Sunday. 4.1.07 6:53 pm
I tuck my alarm clock back to sleep
It's been up before me every day this week
And I'm sure there's nothing so tiring as keeping time.

I've just spent half an hour thinking of nothing at all
Sitting on an overturned Rubbermaid box
Somewhere between my shoes and socks
Returning the steadfast gaze of a nearby wall.

Oh it's a new day, nothing's standing in my way
Or at least I wouldn't see it because I can't find my glasses
Oh it's a new day, at last I'm finally on my way
I've forgotten something I'll remember as the day passes


It's a brand new day, I'm getting so much done
I'm as fast a bullet from a gun
I could take on the whole wide world
I can see my potential has been unfurled!
Oh... it's been an hour since I gave up coffee,
but I think I need just one more cup...

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Zanzibar's random trip to Cape Cod
Sunday. 4.1.07 8:46 am
So in addition to our having a ghost in the house (I came home so late one time this week that the ghost was already in the shower!), we also appear to have an infestation of flying mice.

They ate through all of my hamburger buns and my bagels. Which were on the counter.

On the third floor of a house that has no railings up which they could shimmy. They would have had to leap up three flights of stairs, and then leap from the floor to the counter in order to put their disgusting little gnawing teeth to my fluffy, soft white bagels and my nutritious brown, wheaty hambuger buns of which I'd only eaten three. Thus, flying mice. Or hopefully just 'mouse', in the singular. Still ew.

Chris: He'd better not eat into my protein powder! ...then he'd be SUPER MOUSE!

So for the past week I've been mulling over the possibility of me shrugging off my huge amount of work and going on a CRAZY ROADTRIP. This new problem which I didn't feel like dealing with sealed the decision. I was going to shake the dust off from this crummy little town and see the world! But unfortunately, I didn't have any bagels to serve as my lunch. :(

So OFF I went! My original plan upon leaving was to drive around New England and go to all the states I haven't been to yet (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). I didn't have a map, but really, why would you need a map if you have no real destination? So I ended up getting distracted and driving all the way to Cape Cod. all the way to Provincetown, no less, which is at the very tip of that arc of Massachusetts that curves out into the sea.

Oh, yeah. The first beach I went to was admittedly rather lame, but as I went further up the coast the beaches suddenly got out-of-this-world spectacular. When I showed up at the beach above, I descended from a flight of stairs down the sandy cliffs and there was the endless beach, completely empty but for me. Wow. The water wasn't even that cold, but since the air was quite brisk, getting my hand wet was a bad idea.
From that point on, the beaches only became more and more spectacular, with these massive sand dunes moving across the landscape and burying everything: fences, benches, parking spaces- even the forest!

Ah, the joys of sedimentology.

Then I traveled into a desert wasteland. And let me tell you, walking in sand is HARD. I think the lack of water and the hot desert sun isn't the thing that kills you, it's walking for miles and miles in the freakin' SAND. But it's pretty.

Water... water...

So it went really well and then I came back and ate some delicious hotdogs and beans, and half a pint of Ben and Jerry's Mint Cookie Ice Cream, which was SO GOOD, (especially since it was 8 and I hadn't eaten anything all day!) and watched the movie Duma about a boy and his pet cheetah, which was good, but not as good as Two Brothers. They didn't really address the hard-hitting issues like, "what do you feed a cheetah?" "When a cheetah is in an apartment, where does it relieve itself?" but it reminded me of South Africa! Yay, South Africa, I <3 you! South Africa is kind of like the American west only instead of buffalo there are wildebeest and instead of pronghorn there are springbok, and instead of elk there are kudu, and instead of mountain lions there are actual lions, and instead of Native Americans there are people who speak Bantu and !Xhosa. And, unlike the American West, all of the aforementioned haven't been killed off by the thousands already, so you are more likely to come across them.

Anyway, I'm off topic: hooray for Cape Cod!

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a conversation
Saturday. 3.31.07 12:10 am
Her: "His birthday's coming up... it's like the 2nd? Or the 3rd?"

Me: "The 4th."

Her: "Do you think I should send out an email or something and remind everyone? Because he's not on facebook...."

Me: "No."

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Russians, crashing into the moon
Friday. 3.30.07 7:37 pm
Yesterday we listened to a talk by The Russian wherein he talked about the Russian Space Agency and its past, present, and future.

The Russians have great ideas on how space exploration should be undertaken: they basically design a spacecraft, make at least two and sometimes five, and then shoot them out into space. If one fails, they immediately shoot off another. When one of the early Venera (Venus) missions lost contact with the Earth a few days out, they fired off the next Venera immediately... like the day afterwards if not the day of the radio failure. (You'd have to, really, if you wanted to take advantange of the same launch window). Of course around half of the missions crash or get lost... pass by the moon instead of going into orbit, crash into Venus instead of landing on it, get crushed by the atmosphere, etc., but it doesn't matter because there are 12 more and spare parts besides! And if the space craft accidentally missed the intended planet, it doesn't become a failed impact mission, it becomes a successful flyby mission. GREAT SOVIET SUCCESS!

The Russian was involved in picking sites for the planned Soviet manned mission to the moon in the late 60s. They were racing against the US, but the US had a leg up: we'd put a lunar orbiter up and taken all kinds of pictures of the moon (it was the old days... they had a camera with film that took the picture, the machine developed the film, then scanned it, then sent it back to the earth... all pre-digital!) The US could look at these pictures and choose our landing sites so that we wouldn't land on huge boulders or on the side of any chasms. To send a manned mission to the moon without knowing what the landing ellipse looked like seemed like suicide.

Then one day some men showed up, some "delegates". They gave the scientists a bunch of photos. All the photos of the moon that they could desire! ...All of the American photos of the moon they could desire. Nobody asked where they'd gotten them from.
Here The Russian interjected: "You know, there are Russian spies everywhere."
He paused, looking around.
"Even here."

The rapidness at which the this space race progressed was astounding. Due perhaps to a popular American science-fiction book at the time, many scientists from both countries feared that the moon would be covered with a layer of dust so thick that anything that landed on it would sink into the dust and be lost. The Russians successfully landed Luna 9 on the moon and sent back the first pictures from its surface in 1966, and NASA's similar craft the Surveyor 1 landed successfully later in the same year. Think about that: 1966, scientists think that the moon is made of thick dust that swallows spacecraft alive, and they have no good evidence to disprove it.
1969: Man lands on the moon. Three years later. In the meantime there were SIX successful Russian missions and SEVEN successful US missions sending landers and surveyors to the moon.

Man, space science just ain't the way it used to be.

In the end, the Russians didn't beat us to the moon. One of the most important scientists on the project, the brilliant guy in charge (a rocket propulsion guy named Korolyov) required minor surgery part of the way through the project. Instead of having some random doctor do it, since he was a VIP in the Party they had the Minister of Health himself do the surgery. Unfortunately the Minister of Health doesn't do a lot of surgeries on a day-to-day basis. During the surgery the scientist's heart stopped beating. Normally they would easily restart his heart with paddles, but the paddles were "not available" and the scientist died. The leadership over the rocket building was fought over by several rival companies, including one where Nikita Khrushchev's son worked.

The set-back made it impossible for the Russians to realistically get a manned mission to the moon before the US. In order to avoid embarrassment, the leadership publically decided to change their focus to robotic exploration of the moon and sample return. Four days before Apollo 11 launched, the Russians launched the first sample return mission, so they could beat the Americans back from the moon with moon rocks in tow. Unfortunately this mission crashed. Apollo 11 on the other hand was a fantastic success, and the rest is history.

Even so, the Russians can claim a lot of successes at the moon. They were the first to fly by the moon (in reality they meant to hit it and missed) They were the first to crash into the moon, they were the first to take pictures of the far side of the moon, the first to have a successful soft landing on the moon's surface, and they had the first rovers on the moon, a mission (Lunakhod) with which The Russian was very involved. And after Apollo 11 the Russians did return successfully to the moon many times, bringing back several hundred grams of sample from various places on the lunar surface. For comparison, the USA brought back several hundred KILOgrams of moon sample from Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17.

Ironically, soon after the space race ended, scientists from the two countries reached a little agreement where they would trade and share all of their moon rocks so that everyone could have a better understanding of the evolution of the whole moon. Nobody stopped them because going to the moon wasn't even about science in the first place, so what's the harm? They even later used extra parts from Apollo to launch some joint Soviet/American space ventures later on.
Those nutty scientists, always collaborating with others, not caring if they are filthy communists, what are we going to do with them?

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Magnetic Anomalies !!!!
Friday. 3.30.07 12:32 am
Oh it was so cool today, I was talking to my professor about how we're going to try to use inverse theory to figure out the shapes of magnetized blocks along the East Pacific spreading center.

Technical paragraph:::: It's an interesting process, because the topography on the sea floor affects the shape of the magnetic anomalies (if a mountain range gets built, it brings the magnetized part of the earth's crust closer to your sensor, so you record it as being stronger, even though it's only closer. So you have to take that into account when you're doing your calculations. But then the questions is, "how do we translate the ocean floor, with all of its random hills and mountains and ridges, into a mathematical equation?" It's pretty cool, you do a Fourier transform. This consists of taking a whole bunch of sine equations (think about this like you would a slinky held between two people. If you move up and down very slowly, you get one large U- that's the lowest order of wave. Then if you move the slinky a little faster you get an S lying on its side. This is a higher order. You can keep going until you get one and a half S's, maybe even two, if the slinky is long enough and you are good at it. Theoretically you can have as many S's as you want. If you look at pictures of them all lined up, you'll see that the peaks and troughs of the lines don't really line up. So if you added them all together, you'd get this kind of uneven look, like a heart beat or something.) So what you end up doing is that you add all of the different orders of curve together, and you weight each of them differently (because frequencies that seem to match a lot of your ridges or peaks should be given more importance in describing them mathematically) until you come up with a mathmatical equation that makes all these sine and cosine curves added together match what your random-looking topography looks like. :::end technical paragraph

Anyway, he was lamenting that we don't have any interactive software where we could sit there and pick out where we thought the boundaries between the blocks were and know immediately their latitudes and longitudes. I said, "Why don't you put them into ArcMap?" He doesn't ever use ArcMap for anything. I say I think it's possible. Haha, he says maybe my skills will be useful in this project. Haha! I have skills, who knew? Geomorphologists who stare at pictures all day! When Don asked if I could make pretty diagrams and I said that I could, his eyes lit up like it was Christmas.
And so it's late afternoon already but I get Robert to ssh into his computer and transfer the data, which consist of latitude and longitudes associated with different depths below sea level, which I sftp onto my windows machine. Then I get it all into ArcMap with the help of Caleb and Jay and I project the bathymetry. Then I decided to put it into 3-D, just for fun.

Then I fly through the 3-D virtual ocean floor that I've just made and take screen captures which I send as simple files to Don, with the message, "Look, Don, the sea-floor."

He sends me back only a set of four huge red exclamation marks.

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Island Music
Wednesday. 3.28.07 10:52 pm
When an ocean current runs into an island, the water that would normally flow where the island is must some how flow around it. This causes vorticies where the force that is applied by the current to the front of the island shears off to the side of it somewhat turbulently. This causes a pattern of vorticies where there is a long vortex on one side of the island and a short one on the other. This pattern switches back and forth so that sometimes one side of the island has the long vortex and sometimes the other side does. You can actually sometimes see these vorticies in satellite photos.

You know when it's windy and the electrical wires start singing? wherrrr whoooooo wheeee... this is the exact same effect: the wind is alternating sides of the wire and the vortex pattern is oscillating.

So, if you think about it, if you could record the frequency of oscillation of the vorticies caused by the island, you could speed them up to an audible frequency, and you could hear the island singing.

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An Alanis Morissette Day
Tuesday. 3.27.07 9:28 pm
So today was an Alanis Morissette day. What is an Alanis Morissette day, you ask? You shouldn't have to ask. I'm assuming that most of you just know. But for the uninitiated, an Alanis Morissette day usually follows the kind of day I had yesterday (i.e. a I HATE GRADUATE SCHOOL & MUST FILL AN ENTRY WITH SWEARING AND THEN LOCK IT kind of day). It involves doing something for yourself (in my case I took myself out to lunch), and then locking yourself in a quiet, lonesome location (in my case the 8th floor of the science library), and singing Alanis Morisette very forcefully under your breath while you make contorted and emotion-filled angry faces and try and get your life under control.

For Alanis Morisette Day is not a Pity-Day, oh no. It is an Angry Day, but the anger boils with purpose and self-empowerment. Alanis Morisette (we're talking the Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie here, but I suppose the Jagged Little Pill could work too if you're into what's hip (or used to be hip like ten years ago)) is the perfect music for stalking around the library in the darkness searching for obscure titles. It is the "let's pull ourselves out of our state of panic by the bootstraps and do something about our life!" But do not make the mistake that this music is anything like "inspirational", oh no, far from it. This music is about buying and selling this place, this music is about having as much rage as you have, this music is about doing all kinds of crazy-ass shit and then having the audacity to ask "are you still mad?"

If I am hardened I'll have no fear of further abandonment
If I am famous then maybe I'll feel good in this skin
If I am cultured my words will somehow garner respect

If I am masculine I will be taken more seriously
If I take a break it would make me irresponsible
If I need assistance then I must be incapable

If I accumulate knowledge
I'll be impenetrable
If I am aloof no one will know
when they strike a nerve
If I keep my mouth shut the boat
will not have to be rocked
If I am vulnerable I will be
trampled upon

too close to home, Alanis Morissette! Please stop reading my mind, Alanis Morissette!!!

Oh Alanis Morissette, there will always be a time and season for your angry phrases and your songs that call up emotions but don't actually make any sense when you read the lyrics... and your baffling choice of point of view that makes us wonder if you are a 45-year-old man. Always.

My last one of these days was almost precisely a year ago, Spring Break senior year when I was writing pretty much my entire thesis at once. The libraries may change, but the endless pursuit of boring, pointless knowledge and the pure, animal, unrhyming rage of Alanis Morissette stays the same evermore!!!

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