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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.
Ah, the French pop musique
Wednesday. 3.22.06 8:12 pm
Tous les garçons que je vois me demandent
Pourquoi je suis toute seule ?
C'est pourtant claire
Leurs mensonges me dérangent
Je sais ce qu'ils me veulent

Et si l'un d'eux s'approche pour se la jouer façon "Dom Juan"
J'lui réponds en souriant

Moi j'préfère rester toute seule
Sous leurs airs innocents
Ce sont de vrais brigands
Quoiqu'ils me veuillent
Moi je préfère rester toute seule

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It's Raining
Friday. 3.17.06 7:23 pm
Once upon a time, it was St. Patrick's Day. And it was raining. It was raining so hard that the street outside Ranor's room became a river, and Zanzibar could not leap over it, especially not wearing the tjmaxx jeans, which she can only just fit into when it's track season and she's in reasonable shape. She had to go to track today, despite the pouring rain, and run outside with the sprinters. There was extra impetus to run at exactly the same pace as your peers- if you fell behind you would get dirty water kicked into your face. After track practice was over it was time to go home, but she didn't go home at all. She put on her sweatshirt and opened her red umbrella and disappeared over the hill like a ghost. There were no buildings in that direction, she should have probably taken a circuitous route so that everyone would have thought she was on her way home and not wondered why she was drifting away into the forest. But at this point in her life she does not really mind if they think she is a bit off... will it make them treat her differently? She has balanced the world order by offering to take Brooke's little visiting boyfriend to the airport tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning. Brooke is astonished that she is willing to help, but what nobody knows is that she greatly enjoys driving to the airport, with a little stretch of California highway and a little bit of regaton and a little bit of baggage and goodbye and changing lanes and new starts.
In the forest there is a farm. She has heard that sometimes ex-prisoners will stay here overnight when they are avoiding their parole. To the college, the farm is an embarrassment, an eye sore, a breeding ground for trouble, a dangerous place to be at night, a haven for hippies and compost and whatever-it-is-they-do-there. In the rain, the farm is beautiful. There are cactus gardens and tomato patches. Someone has painted signs labeling all of the plants. In the last year or two the farm has changed from an unorganized mess to a neat, busy garden, full of projects and brimming with new life. Someday the ugly framework that arches over the little dug-out seating area will be weighed down with grapes, or roses, or whatever the twining vines become when spring comes and they come alive. The archways that take you from vegetable patch to vegetable patch will flower and spill out over the pathway. The earth dome house will be finished, strange structure that it is, and in the pouring rain the hippie ex-prisoners might find a little bit of dry space beneath its earthen eaves.

The street outside Ranor's room was a river. She could not cross it. Not in the tjmaxx jeans. She saw a boy leap across the river in a single bound and run to get his car. He backed the car into the river, the water swelling halfway up the tires in waves and eddies. His girlfriend held an umbrella, she stepped daintily from the curb into the car, and they were gone.

Zanzibar held on to the back of an electric green VW Bug and stepped on its license plate holder, just enough of a stepping stone to get her across the river. If the water gets any worse the little car might not be able to help her on her way back.

Now, in the depths of this old building, she thinks about the world. It's been a while since she's thought about the world. Usually she thinks about it constantly. Now she thinks constantly about her research. Her research, her research. Isn't she studying the world? Isn't that what geology is all about? Perhaps. But perhaps the more you study the world, in all of its scientific glory, the less you see it as a whole, the less connected you are to it, the less you feel its quiet, steady breathing in your heart. You might spend 5 hours straight in a library, reading about the earth, but when you emerge you might not even have realized that it was raining and while you were gone Color as you remembered it had been born anew. You might know what the ratio of uranium 235 to uranium 238 is in the universe, because it is always constant. But you might not realize that the night blooming jasmine is in season, and if you take a walk through the south part of campus you can breathe in beauty instead of air.

Deep in the hallways of academia, everyone is doing something important. It is all based on a good, solid knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. There are power point presentations, there are whirring machines, there are figures so complicated that even the person who made them is only pretending to see their significance. One moment you are on the moon, the next on Mars, the next moment you are at the bottom of the Mariana trench. Extremophiles live there. They only have one cell, but they are more important than your neighbor. You know everything about extremophiles. You have never met your neighbor. You have worked at this university for 30 years, but you have never set foot in the psychology building. The Women's Building is nearby, there is a story behind its name but you have never bothered to learn it. You do know the percent irregularity of Thorium on the moon.

There is plenty of room for genius here. Plenty of room for colleagues, and Wine Hour, and abstracts, and computer simulated numerical models. There is plenty of space for conjectures and hypotheses and just one more wet lab where each student has his own hood. There is plenty of room for late nights and squiggly lines on a graph and regressions and trying routines just one more time. There is room for failure, oh yes, room for running out of time, room for despair, room for sitting alone for hours under a fluorescent light. There is room for tightness in the chest, room for books, so many books. You are sure that no one has ever had the occasion to read them besides you.

Ostensibly, there is no room for God, here. That is what many of this place's inhabitants would like to think. Ah, but God, He is a tricky one. It turns out He's been here all along. It turns out when you are reading your concentrations of isotopes, when you are plotting your abundances, God is there all the while, watching you with interest, like a playwright who is eager to see how the audience finds his greatest work.

But there is no room for Love, here. There is no room for magic. There is no room for wasting hours taking internet quizzes. There is no room for the samba. There is no room for hair-care products. There is no room for Coca-cola commercials where everyone is on roller blades. There are no roller blades, here. There is no room for corporal reality, realizing that you have a body and you can move and feel and exist and you don't have to figure out why. You must always figure out why, here, always.

And yet, why does Zanzibar like to be here rather than anywhere else? Why does she love this dark hallway and the cases and cases of microscopes? Why does she stay here by herself and open cases upon cases of rocks with their formulas written on convenient yellow cards, all the formulas you would ever or never need to know....?

I do not know why. It is a mystery that I will let remain a mystery. It is a mystery that I will allow to fall into the river of rainwater that flows under the electric green VW bug and down a drain which is clearly marked in blue paint to tell you that it goes straight to the sea.

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My poor, poor thesis.
Monday. 3.13.06 3:07 pm
I think I need to sit alone in a room with my thesis and cry. For a long time.

But I can't, because I need all that time to write my thesis.


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The prize for the most ridiculous PhD robes goes t
Wednesday. 3.8.06 1:45 am
I'm full tilt into writing my thesis. I spent all day in the library on Sunday (all night til 1 am in the lab), Monday morning I spent talking on the phone about thesis, today is Tuesday and I spent every minute I had doing thesis that I wasn't in class and track. It's 11:47pm now and I'm thinking about turning in for the night. I have a huge math assignment due tomorrow and I've got to be awake enough tomorrow to get it done before lunch.

I'm starting to think that some of the literature is wrong. I wonder if the people writing it know just as little as I do about what they are doing, because sometimes it seems like it.

In other news, I was accepted to Colorado School of Mines for a graduate program in economic geology. The guy who would be my advisor said that he would be out of touch because he was taking a group of grad students to the middle of the Amazon jungle to search for semi-precious gems.

hmm..... that could be me.......

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The Steeple Chase Pit
Friday. 3.3.06 11:32 pm
Today Coach Kirk pulled the plug on the steeple chase pit, which had been filled with recent rain and had even lured an snowy white egret to come and wade in its cool waters. I didn't even know such birds lived anywhere near Los Angeles. It was quite a sight to see, with its S-shaped neck and long spindly yellow legs, enjoying the steeple chase pit with cool and surreal elegance. He said it posed a danger for little kids. He didn't want some little kid running about near the track to drown himself in the three or four feet of clear, brimming water. He opened the plug in the ground and stuck a long metal pole into the brown murky soil-water, which, when he pulled sharply, opened the underground drain and began to suck water out of the steeple chase pit. I could hear the rushing through a grate on the field.

There was an earthworm in the pool of water. I didn't know how it got there, but it was lying along the pit's inclined floor, slowly making its way in worm-like fashion towards the bottom of the pit. Do earthworms have lungs, I wondered? They always said that the reason earthworms came out during the rain was because their holes were filling with water and the worms were trying to avoid drowning. Was this earthworm drowning now? How long can an earthworm hold its breath? The earthworm felt out its next move, head leading, body following, tail feeling back and forth as if vaguely regretting not going the opposite way. If the earthworm only knew, it would follow the sentiments of its tail, because that was the way up to dry land. The other way only led to deeper water and a strong current from the drain, which could mean death to an earthworm deprived for so long of air. I thought for a moment about reaching into the pit and scooping the earthworm out, but I didn't, because I had long sleeves on and there was almost two feet of water between me and the earthworm. I didn't want my sleeve to get wet. The worm's movement were getting a little more weary. Was it drowning? Do earthworms have lungs? Should I save it? I knew I couldn't hold my breath for as long as I had been watching the earthworm. The water level was slowly dropping. All it needed was to wait a few moments and the water would subside and leave it on dry land again. It stopped there on at the gnarled boundary between the flat bottom and the inclined floor of the steeple chase pit. It looked tired. It lifted its head and scooted one more wormly scoot down the incline in the wrong direction. Then it paused. It paused, and then it couldn't hold on any longer, and the current vortex of the draining pipe swallowed it into blackness. There could be nothing awaiting that earthworm in such a drain pipe but death.

In the shallower water the pipe formed a little whirlpool that momentarily caught the floating corpse of a honey bee, one of the multitude we have found dead and dying around the track in recent days. It stirred it round and round as if it were alive once more, but only for a moment, then it returned to floating in funeral silence, the only other witness to the earthworm's demise. Could I have prevented the earthworm's death? What if someone who could have prevented my death chose not to... because her sleeve might get momentarily wet? The bottom of the steeple chase pit gleamed quietly. It was now safe and dry.

I went back over to where track practice was started. Kirk jokingly asked me if I'd made absolutely sure that the steeple chase pit had really drained. But I wasn't really in the mood for joking.

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NASA is cool.
Friday. 3.3.06 3:23 pm
So I went to the conference on Europa (a moon of Jupiter) at NASA Ames Research Center in San Jose. It was pretty cool, I got to learn about the habits of extremophile bacteria, see pictures of ice floes in Anarctica, learn about the magnetic field of Jupiter, and just generally see how these scientific conferences work and figure out the who's-who of Europan planetary science.

I met a totally hot guy there, he took me out for a drink. He was wearing f***-me shoes!

I really wanted someone to take my picture behind the NASA podium so it would look like I was giving a NASA press conference for my facebook picture, but whatevs, it didn't happen. It rained a lot and I met a lot of cool scientists and grad students who were all really nice and gave me advice about grad schools. People were impressed when I said I wanted to learn more about engineering- there's a large gap between scientists and engineers that not a lot of people are willing to cross. So with mathematics at my side, I think I'll become a scientist/engineer and forge a new future.

It's so hilarious talking to freshman because they are all freaked out about guys and "guys are so weird" and "what's up with guys" and whatnot. And I remember when I used to be like that. Now I don't really give a damn. Which could be good or bad.

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The Time I was Almost Friends with Famous People
Friday. 2.24.06 5:55 pm
Today I went to lunch and there was a burger bar with grilled onions and I had a burger with the onions and tomatoes and bbq sauce and it was great. I saw the kid Zach whose brother plays Ryan on the OC. I had a short but vivid daydream about us becoming friends and then me going to party with him at his house and then his brother would be there and I'd meet him and I'd take all these pictures of us partying together and chilling in the hottub and then I'd post them on the facebook with little or no explanation and everyone would say, "hey, isn't that that guy from the OC? And I'd be like, 'oh yeah, him, he's a friend of mine, whatever'" I wouldn't even have to ask him to take a "fan picture" with me, we'd just take pictures because we are buds. But then the daydream had to take a dark turn when Zach starts to wonder if I became friends with him just so that I could meet his famous brother or if I really like him for him. I have to examine my own feelings about the matter, because, to be perfectly frank, that's exactly the reason I became friends with him/(started dating him??)... but I learned that he was a really cool guy along the way, isn't that enough for a romantic comedy-type ending?

Well, seeing as I've been here with Zach for several years and such a conundrum has not yet evolved, I guess I'll graduate without having to sort out these pretend feelings. What a relief!

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Thursday. 2.23.06 11:27 am
Emery: Welcome back!
Oxtoby: from where?
Emery: oh, to Pomona College... I assume you are an alum...?
Ox: um... yeah, actually I'm the president of Pomona College


Carlos: You know that song "La camisa negra" by Juanes? It is banned in Germany!
Me: oh really! Why is that? What is the meaning of that song?
Carlos: Well, in Columbia where I am from... well... actually... I have no idea. He says he has a black shirt. I have no idea why.

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