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.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
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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
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
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
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 Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
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
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of 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 Road to Serfdom
De La Terre ï¿½ la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
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
Day 1: Hawaii and the Tragic Lives of French A and B
Friday. 2.1.13 2:22 pm
At the timely urging of my father (hi Dad!) I applied for the Hawaii job. I think my friend that reminded me about the application deadline is a little miffed because now our applications will be competing. Oh well, as he pointed out, he already lives in Hawaii. Not only did I get three people to agree to write me letters of recommendation, all three of them turned the letters in on time! Sacre bleu!
I have to give a talk over Skype at my old university in an hour and a half and I haven't finished it yet, so I'll come back and write more if the meeting finishes before midnight.
Then I'll update you on the tragic lives of French A and French B....
The End of Canada
Wednesday. 1.30.13 3:50 pm
My bestie foreversie the Canadian has her last day of work tomorrow.
I ain't even sad.
This is because I'm in severe denial. Once she leaves, I'll probably spend the rest of my time in France hanging out in my office looking at Google Earth and writing sad little philosophical treatises on Nutang.
We're buying her some cheese for her new life in Germany.
Tuesday. 1.29.13 4:42 pm
I decided that if I am going to do the "Entry-a-Day" February challenge, that I should practice a little bit ahead of time.
At la cantine there is a sauce called sauce salade. I hate it. The taste is sour, or like horse radish. Essence de kimchi. Its acrid, hideous flavor invades and subdues every other flavor. But I still eat it on everything. I can't help myself. During the first couple of months at the cantine I would think, "You hate this. You hate this sauce," even as I pumped it all over my meat and lentils. I would hate every moment of eating it. But I still did it. I still do.
In a similar way, I read radical feminist newspapers and threads. I don't know why. Everything they say pisses me off. Today I didn't have to look any further than an article in the New Yorker about the history of American women getting tattoos:
The third edition of the book, released yesterday, includes a hundred new photographs that examine how tattoo culture has evolved over the past fifteen years. As Mifflin writes in the introduction, “Tattoos appeal to contemporary women both as emblems of empowerment in an era of feminist gains and as badges of self-determination at a time when controversies about abortion rights, date rape, and sexual harassment have made them think hard about who controls their bodies—and why.” As we approach the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this observation is especially resonant.
What? What the hell does a bunch of tattooed circus people in the late 1890s have to do with Roe v. Wade? The author uses Roe v. Wade as a "keyword" at the bottom, so it is probably just a scheme to get as much traffic as possible, but really? You really think women get tattoos to "stick it to The Man"? Men get tattoos for their own personal reasons, but women get tattoos to make statements about their empowerment? I guess if all you study is the oppressive patriarchy, you see every single issue or trend through that lens. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
I read one feminist thread about how every sex act in the history of mankind before the 1970s should be considered a rape because the unequal power dynamics between men and women made it practicably impossible for the woman to freely refuse the man's advances. What? Have you ever been around any members of the human race?
Some poor schmuck joined the conversation and suggested that a) Many women freely rejected men throughout history, because not all men are savage sex-crazed animals b) Perhaps some of the billions of couples that lived and procreated and died on the Earth actually loved each other, c) It may cheapen the word "rape" to call every sexual act that occurred before 1970 a rape.
Naturally this guy was ritually eviscerated by the forum members after which his genitalia were roasted over a bonfire of outrageous self-congratulatory rhetoric.
Sauce salade leaves a better taste in my mouth.
EDIT: This, on the other hand, is hilarious.
Monday. 1.28.13 12:57 pm
Yeah, I always have things to write about when I'm not near a computer, and then as soon as I have a bit of free time or access to Nutang it all evaporates. I'm going to go home and cook me up some mac n' cheese.
I will say this-- climate science is as boring as hell.
I've been looking through a bunch of climate science jobs and I think I'd rather stab myself in the foot than do any of them. My job right now is pretty cool, but "satellite data assimilation and intercomparison"? Kill me now. I also figured out that I missed the opportunity to apply for a 60 k/yr lecturer position in Hawaii with 3k annual travel budget and possibility for up to 30k more in "extramural funding". The deadline is actually January 31st but there is no way I can get reference letters before then. If NASA decides they don't want to hire me I'm really going to be cast adrift in the winds of fate.
My needs at the moment:
1) An institution through which I can funnel money
3) Business cards
4) A dog
5) A backyard/garden
6) A place to skate around on a long board
Maybe I'll just buy a miniature golf course by the beach and sell homemade ice cream, french fries, and virgin strawberry daiquiris. I'll incorporate and form a one-person LLC through which I will funnel research money. All of my research will be conducted from the inside of a windmill on the 17th green.
Saturday. 1.19.13 4:08 am
We are drinking tea. Everyone is speaking Italian. I have been learning to strike the balance between seeming too interested in the conversation, which makes them feel like they have to translate it for me, and seeming too disinterested, which makes them worried that they are boring me. I am listening carefully. I can understand about 20% when I listen very carefully, especially if I have a general idea about what they are talking about. Italian is very much like Spanish, so la vida secreta (secretly taking Spanish in the mornings my second semester of grad school) and my many years of listening to Enrique Iglesias and 97.5 Latino and Proud are paying a small dividend.
Right now I have no idea what they are talking about, and everyone in the room is firing away in rapid Italian. "A fish," explains the girl across from me. "Very big. A tuna." They continue on in Italian.
Ok. Context clue. Five minutes pass by.
"We're talking about a statue," says someone else. "She looks like she's making a poo."
"You aren't missing very much," adds another.
"90% of the time we are talking about food," says my host after a few minutes. "It is this way for all Italians."
We finish our tea. Time for a Prosecco and then off to our 8:45pm dinner reservation. Italia.
Wednesday. 1.16.13 9:50 am
I lay on the floor of my hotel, reveling in the feeling of not being standing up.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the wall, which was adorned with some kind of woven wooden fabric. I wanted to say rattan. What was rattan, anyway? I wondered how they made it. I took a closer look. If it was made by hand it must have taken forever. I wondered if it was really rattan. I figured I could look up on the internet how rattan blinds were made and maybe even learn how to make some myself. For a moment I was so overcome by how many beautiful things were on the internet that I wanted to cry.
But first I should probably take a shower. And then a nap. And then I should probably go look around Padua, where Galileo apparently observed the Moon through his telescope.
Nah, internet first.
Taking out the Trash
Tuesday. 1.15.13 3:01 pm
I realized that in the last three months I haven't taken out the trash unless I was leaving the country.
This is a commentary both on the frequency with which I take out the trash as well as the frequency with which I leave the country.
This time I'm off to Italia-- Padua. I'm mostly doing work, but I'm going to take a day or two in Venice just to see what they know there.
Next week London for work, not sure if I'll have enough trash accumulated by then to take it out.
Thursday. 1.10.13 8:31 am
An excerpt from my most recent Nanowrimo novel (that is to say, only half true):
He invited me to a bar. I resigned myself to spending the night pretending that I drank alcohol. Like all Parisian bars, it was small and crowded and authentic. Authentic Parisian bars had unbalanced my conception of authentic American bars. I started to realized that all of our authentic bars and restaurants and interior decor were actually imperfect European facsimiles. Not knowing what they had been based on, I had accepted the copies as originals, and only now was I discovering that the originals existed. For this reason it always shocked me to see wooden tables that were not artificially distressed, paper that was yellowed at the edges from time instead of tea, old magnifying glasses that were really made out of brass, and cast iron candelabras that were actually made out of cast iron. Thatched roofs that were actually made of thatch. The authenticity of everything shocked me. I had discovered everything in the world backwards, from the streets of the Paris: Las Vegas to the streets of Paris, France. This bar was no different. It was built of crumbling brick with low wooden beams. The whole building leaned slightly to the side over a small alleyway. If I had been a giant I would have straightened it out like a deck of cards. If I were a giant I would fix everything, and never knock anything down. As a kid I used to build towers out of blocks. Other kids used to always knock them over, but I would patiently collect all of the blocks back together and start building again. When I was really small they had a wall as school that was made of bricks. They had a bunch of big paintbrushes and a bucket full of water. I remember painting the wall with the water, painting and painting and painting, and when I reached the end of the wall the beginning of the wall would be dry again and I would have to start all over again. I guess that’s why I do so much computer programming.
He met me out front and kissed me quickly on each cheek. I was still getting used to that— I was afraid that one day I would lose all control over myself and accidentally kiss somebody full on the mouth. Probably my boss, knowing me. Blushing, I followed him into the bar. He led me down an impossibly narrow staircase to a large brick cellar with arched pillars. A band was playing. The lead girl was playing the accordion. A young, unshaven boy behind her was playing bass, and a guy sitting on her right hand side was playing some kind of incredibly ethnic African percussion instrument. A reddish orange light on the stage bathed everything with a warm glow. The place was crowded and everyone was feeling the music. I always liked to squint my eyes when I was at concerts. Each light would become an eight-pointed star, and I would pretend like I was partying so hard that I was about to pass out. I called this exercise “Youth”. At least, this is what I imagined Youth was supposed to be like. A little blurry, lights flashing everywhere, the heat of other young bodies pressing in from every direction, music so loud that it filled your mind to the exclusion of everything else. Claude bought me a cider. I smiled brightly, glad to see that it was something that I would be able to choke down without too much awkward grimacing. I returned to my exercise of Youth, but he tapped me on the arm. He wanted to talk. If speaking a foreign language had a Master’s championship, this would be it. Low light, overwhelming background noise, a conversation that could go in any direction. I reeled my brain back from its rock-and-roll vacation and placed it back into its gears. We had to stand very close—of course we did. We had to speak directly into each others’ ears, which required leaning towards each other just so. Occasionally his lips would brush the side of my face while he was speaking, and while it was all so contrived I could suddenly understand why other people did it. Whenever he looked away I squinted my eyes until he was blurry. If I looked at him like that he could be anyone. That was part of Youth, too, wasn’t it? I grabbed a straw from behind the bar and put it in my cider. With the straw in the back of my throat I could pull back most of the cider without actually tasting it. I took a long pull and turned back to Claude. The girl playing the accordion was sexiest accordion player I had ever seen. The fellow playing the African drum wasn’t so bad either. Everyone in the bar was getting sexier and sexier the blurrier they became.
I don’t remember leaving the bar. One moment we were in the bar, my feet aching from standing for so long, awash with orange light and accordion music, Claude’s lips brushing my ear as he spoke in unintelligible French, and the next we were out in the blue night, walking along the maze of uneven cobble stones next to the marina of the Bastille. I dragged Claude to the locks on the canal. They were silent for the night, and I tried to explain how they worked but I did not have sufficient vocabulary. Instead we passed quickly through the tunnel from the canal to the edge of the Seine. No one ever came here; it was the one place along the Seine that was always deserted. We sat and looked out over the Seine. One time Abigail and I had seen a turtle in the river. I always told people about it but they never believed me. I told Claude, but he couldn’t understand what I was saying. He kissed me. He kissed me... and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel anything. I had always heard people claim that this kiss or that kiss didn’t mean anything, and I never believed it could be true—after all, it was a kiss! But then there was Claude, and Claude could have been any boy in the world. But I kissed him back, poor fellow, I kissed him back and I kissed him all along the edge of the Seine until we reached the street again. “Here’s my metro station,” I said, as if I hadn’t known that it would be there. He kissed me goodnight. I knew it would be the last time. Is this how hearts get broken? Did French hearts break like American hearts? Could I have been any girl in the world to Claude? Did it matter to him? Was any girl in the world exactly what he was looking for?
The metro home was blurry, but not for the same reason as before.
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