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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.
Science like hella.
Thursday. 7.6.06 2:07 pm
Today we moved forward on our model. I'm studying coccolithophorids, which form the base of the food chain in all of the world's oceans. They are a species of phytoplankton, which billions of years ago revolutionized the world by spewing out ridiculous amount of oxygen, an element that had theretofore been somewhat rare in the Earth's atmosphere. The electron hungry ions of this element can be very harmful to fragile organic matter and other kinds of molecules. Scientists say that had the earth started with oxygen in its atmosphere like there is today, life never would have arisen at all.

Coccolithophorids are unique among phytoplankton in that they construct shells around their one-celled bodies out of calcium carbonate. In fact, their remains make up all of the chalk on earth, including the white cliffs of Dover, which are a remnant of a huge bloom of coccolithophorids that died long, long ago.

Each hubcab-shaped plate is fabricated inside the single celled organism and then exported to the outside to become part of its armor.

The type I am studying is the most common, Emiliana huxleyi. It has dominated the world ecosystem for millions of years. The sheer biomass of these algae outweighs every other living thing in the ocean combined.

Anyway, these creatures synthesize a molecule called an alkenone, which some people think they use to regulate the porosity of their cell membranes. The alkenone comes in several different forms, diunsaturated, triunsaturated, and in some cases tetraunsaturated. Unsaturated just means it has a different kind of bond in some places on the chemical structure. Ranor explained the organic chemistry to me, it was great, he's the knowledgable type.

Anyway, the type of alkenone that the coccolithophorid sythesizes depends on how cold the water is around them when they are making it. This means that the record of the temperature of the sea water is captured in the alkenone ratio in the cell at the precise moment that the molecule is created. The ratio sticks even when the algae dies and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This proves to be quite useful because the ocean is covered with sediment from these "skeletons", waiting to become the chalk of the future. By digging up the sediments and knowing how old they are because of isotopes and marker fossils, we can say exactly what temperature the ocean was at that time. The kind of resolution that is possible is yearly ocean temperatures. Tracking these through time, we can see how the ocean changed and by proxy how the whole global climate changed, through millions of years.

However, there are some limitations. It was discovered experimentally that alkenones had this property of recording sea temperature, there is no physiological reason why it should be so. When scientists started to experiment with regard to this question, they found that several things affect the alkenone ratio, not just the water temperature. So how accurate is the alkenone ratio as a thermometer? Well that's just the question on everyone's mind! Well. Maybe not everyone's mind. Some people think it could still be very accurate, if we factor in the other variables that could affect it (like illumination, nutrients, strong cross currents, etc) For my part, I'm helping the great frenchman X. Giraud make a model that accurately predicts sea water temperature from alkenones, taking all of these other variables into account. In practical parlance, this means that I stare at graphs all day and try and think about what mathematical functions would best describe them. Do I think nutrients and such are related to the total number of alkenones directly? Inversely? Maybe Alkenones=1/(nutrients)^2?

This is where all that stuff you learned in pre-calculus about reading graphs comes in mighty handy. I have to make sure that my equation works--- if the nutrients go to zero, should that make the growth rate go way up, or stall? If I did it right, plants can't grow without nutrients, and taking them away should cause the growth rate to go to zero. It's complicated and my model isn't right yet. But X. and I can only wrack our brains for so long before it seems pointless. Here's where the computer comes in. We simply insert the equations I made up into a script X. wrote that has all of the things that algae are usually exposed to: surface wind, currents, upwelling of nutrients, differences in sun and darkness hours depending on latitude and time of year, etc. Basically we insert my equations into Xavier's world, hit "go" and see what happens. That's probably what I'll be doing for the rest of the week. Meaning... tomorrow. Then maybe I'll say tchuss to Bremen and go to Copenhagen!!

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Of travel in faraway lands
Monday. 7.3.06 12:26 pm
I've just gotten back from my month-long adventure in Europe- and by "gotten back" I mean I've returned to where I started from in a big sort of European circle of sorts... I'm back in Bremen, Germany, my home for the next two months. It's a charming town. There doesn't seem to be any sketchy areas as of yet, and I can say that, seeing as I've walked through almost the entire city already, by choice and sometimes by chance.

And now of course I have a bunch of new friends. My favorites currently are Marcia, a very friendly and chatty Brazilian who goes to school in California; Alister, a personable and happy-go-lucky fellow from Bristol who goes to school in South Hampton;
and one more whose name I forget. There are quite a few of them so we'll see how it goes. The most dependable is of course the German, Julian, who speaks perfect English as the result of high school and college in England. He's wholesome, handsome, and helpful, if that isn't a lovely trio of traits. Pleasant manners, chivalrous, loves biking. Well bred. I've been reading a murder mystery about Victorian England, though, so I have to say things like, "well bred" and "good manners" because that's what they talk about all the time in the book.

Anyway, dinner time, tchuss!

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Echoes in the Dreams of the Sensitive Plant
Thursday. 5.25.06 9:58 pm
But in this life
Of error, ignorance, and strife,
Where nothing is, but all things seem,
And we the shadows of the dream,

It is a modest creed, and yet
Pleasant if one considers it,
To own that death itself must be,
Like all the rest, a mockery.

--Shelley, The Sensitive Plant

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Chrachis Wood
Thursday. 5.25.06 8:24 pm
So I got a cool Astro book from Brianna! There's a girl who knows me. I can't believe she's getting maaaarrrrrrried! I can't think of two people who'd be better than Briob. I wonder what people could call Rachel and Chris? Rachris? You can spell that, but can you say it? How about Rachistopher? Chrachel? ooooo, I like that one. Chrach, maybe, for short. Chrachel Wood. Robanna Havlik.
Shycen Bundgaard. Ashawnrey Craft. I don't know any other practically married people, do I? Awww there's wench! Wench and boyfriend Mike. I wonder if he'll remain boyfriend Mike or if we'll have to call him "Husband Mike" eventually. I don't even know his last name. Starts with an "n"?

I eat way too much ice cream when I come home.

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Pictures of the world and such
Thursday. 5.25.06 2:04 am
So it's been a long time since I've put up pictures. I will put some up in a random and non-chronological order.

Happy Year of the Rooster!

The Taj Mahal... so tiny!

Phil the Great stops to readjust his pack high above Cape Town, South Africa

Woah, I graduated, when did that happen?

So I guess they turned out to be in chronological order.

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Sunday. 5.7.06 3:40 pm
I had such a lovely day on Friday, let me tell you about it. Scott had recommended this splendid beach to me, it's called Leo Carillo, named after a famous naturalist and environmentalist. It includes a camp ground and some trails that go into the foothills, all of which are covered in a blanket of black-eyed susans and other, heather-like yellow flowers. It's about 30 miles north of Malibu.
Scott had decided to go out to the beach the day before and hide a treasure there for me and Kristina to find since he couldn't go with us to the beach (I guess some people have jobs). He went out the evening before and hid the treasure with his friend Ian from home. They made up all kinds of clues and a treasure map which they ripped and burned at the edges so that it would look more authentic. Scott said that they should have made it out of regular paper and dipped it in tea, but they made it out of a paper bag so that it was already brown. The clues were many and varied and they took us all over the place trying to find this treasure. But eventually we reached the place of the treasure and the X that used to mark the spot was gone. Apparently someone had dug up Scott's treasure and buried a half full bottle of Bud Light in its place. I had to call him several times to ask him where the treasure was until we were sure that it was gone. He was sorry that it was gone, he called back twice to say so. The treasure was apparently a pirate lunchbox full of candies and necklaces, a veritable pirate's booty! Kristina and I went and ate at a little restaurant along the coast called Neptune's Net and it was delicious. Then we went back to the beach to watch the sunset, as Scott had suggested, and it was wonderful, just as he had advertised, and then we went down to Pasadena for Cinco de Mayo and had appetizers and desserts down at the Cheesecake Factory, and then we went home. It was one of the most lovely days I've had in college, I think. :)

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let it go
Tuesday. 5.2.06 2:48 am
To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

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The Tale of the Lizard
Monday. 5.1.06 12:06 am
Today Ranor and I were walking from my room towards the West. We ran into a group of people whose attention was directed at the ground, where what looked like a small snake was writhing wildly in the leaves by the side of the path. On closer inspection of both their horrified faces and the creature on the ground, it became apparent that it was not a snake at all, but the severed tail of a lizard. One of the passersby had accidentally stepped on its tail as it went dashing past, and as a natural escape mechanism, the tail came off and the lizard went on without it.

The tail, though, the tail continued to flicker, writhe, squirm, shy away from the people standing around it, and was seemingly trying to locomote a short distance onto the path. It looked like it was in extreme pain, like the kitten Caroline, Michael and I saw get run over one day while we were delivering the newspaper. Only the kitten was spurting blood in wild spasms all over the pavement, and in the lizard tail blood only evident in a strange stasis at the edge of the severed end, the scales still sitting ready like it was at the end of a stack of circular grey lego pieces, white bone shining from the center even as its sticky surface began picking up leaves and dirt from the pavement.

Its gyrations were wild and panicked, all of us who had stopped and looked were unable to look away. Finally one girl couldn't take it anymore and felt sick. The long tail crawled onto the pavement like an earthworm, its bloody end seeming to look around for a moment to find the best path. Was it looking for its body? Where was its body? I told Ranor that we should leave, that maybe when we were gone the lizard would come back out and calm and recollect its tail and this horror would be over. Another group of passersby asked if it would grow back. They wondered if a new lizard would grow out of the severed tail. The lizard may live, but it will never again have a tail like it did. Its chance of survival will be greatly reduced. The days of the large Claremont lizards are numbered.

As I skated away, my mind turned to the lizard, hiding in the bushes, watching in utter horror as his predators pointed at and chatted about the part of his body desperately wrenching for upwards of 5 minutes in the middle of the sidewalk. For us, this event was an interesting story, a gross little anecdote, maybe something to bring up with our ecology professors on Monday. For the lizard, his one misstep, his split second decision to cross the path when he did has changed the course of his entire life. Like that one side-kick that broke my leg and changed the course of my life for the next four years... like that one patch of ice that Catherine didn't see which broke her jaw and knocked out all of her teeth... like that one left turn you go for because you think you can make it........ the one split-second decision that you have to live with for the rest of your life.

One split second decision that takes you from someone together and full and whole and complete to pieces: one private one, hiding in the bushes in perfect shock

and the other for the public to gawk at, to tell stories about. One part of you left there writhing blindly, madly, mindlessly, on the sidewalk for all to see.

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