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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.
Lightning and Gamma Ray Bursts
Wednesday. 7.21.10 9:14 pm
Have you heard of gamma-ray bursts?

They're a mysterious phenomenon where a burst of extremely high energy photons (gamma rays) emerge from a point in space. Nobody knows why, but it is hypothesized that gamma ray bursts occur with the collapse of a high mass star into a black hole. Most occur in distant galaxies and last for several seconds.

In the 90s a telescope was chillin' out in space looking for gamma ray bursts when it detected one nearby. Where was the gamma ray burst coming from?


In the subsequent years it was discovered that terrestrial gamma ray flashes occur in the Earth's atmosphere associated with lightning storms, at a rate of about 50 per day. Lightning itself is still a relatively mysterious phenomenon, as it is difficult to see how the relatively low electric fields in thunderstorms give rise to a bolt of such incredible magnitude, and how this electrical channel propagates through air, which is generally a pretty bad conductor.

There was a hypothesis that showers of cosmic particles initiated lightning, since that would be a way to give it enough energy to begin, but it seemed as if lightning was much more common than these showers of cosmic particles, and that the cosmic particle showers alone were still insufficient to initiate lightning. The discovery of terrestrial gamma ray bursts has further complicated the issue, as thunder clouds are certainly not distant exploding stars, and making gamma rays requires a great deal of energy to be released (gamma rays are so high in frequency that their wavelenths are about the radius of an atom). Perhaps terrestrial gamma ray bursts could provide the energy needed for lightning, but then why does there appear to be many, many times as much lightning as there are bursts?

On the other hand, could whatever extremely high energy event that forms lightning also be powerful enough at times to create the gamma ray bursts?

Researchers have flown lightning planes through thunderstorms in order to study lightning, and storm chasers chase storms across Florida and Colorado (the two top-ranked states for lightning deaths) hoping their vehicles will get struck by lightning, or that the lightning will come close enough for their instruments to be analyzed. Researchers at the University of Florida, in cooperation with Florida Tech, have created an outdoor lightning lab, where instead of chasing lightning, they bring it to their instruments. There they have a rocket launcher which launches rockets into storm clouds. The rocket is attached to a coil of copper wire. As the rocket travels into the cloud, it attracts lightning. The lightning travels down the length of the copper wire, effectively vaporizing it into a glowing green gas as at it makes its way to the instuments.

By directing the lightning, the scientists can capture it with a high-frame rate camera, as well as photographing it with spectrometers and measuring the electrical and magnetic fields.

Lightning is an incredibly common phenomenon which is still not very well understood. It is perhaps ironic that we had to build a telescope to study events in distant galaxies in order to discover a fundamental clue to a process that was so close to home.

Moral: Lightning is wicked-cool.

Comment! (15) | Recommend! (4)

Germany for a Weekend
Thursday. 7.15.10 7:12 pm
So I'm going to Germany for the weekend. (NBD).

I'm going to my old Heimatland of Bremen!!! Remember when I lived in Bremen? It would be impressive if you did remember, because that would mean you've been reading my blog for >4 years.

I have to give a 30 minute talk about the entire geologic history of Mercury in front of a crowd of... well, I don't know how many people will be there... but probably a lot.

It was an invited talk... only I wasn't invited to give it. My advisor was. He can't go for whatever reason, so I'm going instead. w000000T. I just spent the last couple of days up to my eyeballs in Mercury trying to figure out what its geologic history was.

It would be much cooler if I could get there by teleportation, as it is I will probably spend more time traveling than I will spend in Germany, as I have to fly tomorrow Providence-->Baltimore-->Norfolk-->Philadelphia-->Frankfurt-->Bremen. I leave Providence at 6:20 am tomorrow and arrive in Bremen at 2:00 Saturday afternoon. While I'm on the plane I have to read about this grant I'm thinking about applying for and develop an action plan.

Things on my list to do in Bremen:

1) See if they still have cheap tents for sale at the discount store near my old place
2) Eat potato salad
3) Buy some German world cup paraphernalia (likely ON SALE!)
4) Walk through the park
5) Buy the most delicious ice cream ever invented at the flea market!!!
6) Shopping at H & M????

On Monday morning I fly back Bremen-->Frankfurt-->Norfolk, where I have to give a talk at NASA to my funding agents about Martian volcanoes. On Wednesday they take us to tour the National Transonic Facility, the Composite Model Development Building, and the Flight Test Article and Development and Integration Lab.

I don't know. It has something to do with really sweet airplanes.

Really early Thursday morning I'm on a plane again, Norfolk-->Baltimore-->Providence.

Livin' the life.

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An Epic American Weekend
Monday. 7.5.10 1:09 am
This weekend was pretty epic, so I thought I should probably record it.

It began on Thursday when my friend and I went to see Eclipse. I sent out this email:



PROVIDENCE, RI-- An incredible ECLIPSE will soon be visible all over the continental U.S., beginning tonight, June 30th, 2010.

The Eclipse, visible after twilight, will feature stunning visual effects, amazing acting skills, and the white-hot talent of many of the galaxy's hottest stars.

On THURSDAY, July 1st, 2010, members of the Geology Department will be traveling down in the afternoon to the Providence Place Mall, where the eclipse will be visible almost every hour, on the hour.

If you would like to be a part of the Eclipse-viewing, please contact mission P.I.s Bronny or Zanzibar for more information. The eclipse gallery contains many must-see images. Start browsing here.

NOTE: DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE ECLIPSE. Because of the expected blinding brilliance of the event, special glasses are advised.


So naturally the only one who came was Bronny, but I got lots of responses to my amazing email and how it actually tricked a bunch of people into thinking there was a real eclipse.

After viewing the incredible Eclipse, we went to Hot Club for a goodbye party for the french postdoc M, who is going back to France, and Rhodes, who is moving to France tomorrow for a year. The Hot Club is great because it has an outside area that is right on a dock looking out over the river and the power plant. Weird to say that the Providence power plant is beautiful, but it really is.

We stayed really really late, and M was pretending that it was his 21st birthday so he was soooo excited to be able to drink. It's a little joke among the foreign post-docs because they all think not drinking until you're 21 is ridiculous. M started smoking and blowing smoke into people's faces and trying to get them to smoke. When they declined he would say, "You don't smoke? Of course you don't smoke... you are PERFECT." Every time the Welshman or his English friend would say anything M would turn to me and ask, "Was he just speaking in English? Was that English? What language is he speaking?" He kept asking if the English bloke was from Germany and if he was speaking German. It was excellent because M is usually very reserved and quiet, but by the end of the night he was tussling with the Welshman over rugby, wars, and which country's men were the gayest. I was DD as usual, so we invited everyone to drive with us back to our place, because hey, why not, and they all came and drank all of our beers that have been in the fridge for almost a year and a bottle of wine and stayed til near three in the morning. I wish they'd stayed longer, but eventually M was sick and they had to take him home.

On Friday morning I went to the bar around 10 and watched the Brazil vs. Netherlands game with some Brazilian friends of mine while eating nachos (they weren't happy). I spent the rest of the day running around doing errands and cleaning my office and was only occasionally seen in my place of work. Friday night our friend Scott called us up and wanted to go out, so we went to McDonald's to get McFlurries. I got a sundae and the woman gave me a pitiful amount of fudge so I asked if I could have some more and she charged me like 30 cents for it. Then we went Graduate Center Bar and met up with our Brazilian friend again and he entertained us with his adventures from Brazil. We had to leave around 1 but we still somehow managed to stay up til 3.

On Saturday we decided to have a 4th of July party, despite the evil "no-party" clause in our lease, so we drove around all day shopping for supplies and decorations. At night we went out to a place called Local 121 to do some serious dancing. We wore Uncle Sam hats and red, white and blue beads and 4th of July outfits and glitter. It was awkward for the first two hours because it was apparently "fancy night' at 121 (it said on the chalkboard outside) and everyone was dressed up. I was trying to drink my water really r-e-a-l-l-y slowly so I wouldn't have to bother the bartender too much. Then the DJ started playing and the crowd changed and we became quick crowd favorites with our festiveness. I decided to practice trapping men... turns out all you have to do is make eye contact with them. For some reason wearing a silly hat does tend to help. We finally left when the place closed, gave our hats to random guys who were cat-calling us on the street, and went to bed at 3 again.

On Sunday we got up and got ready for our epic party. This is the email that went with the party:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, a BBQing attitude to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the time and place and details pertaining to said BBQ.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and the right to Peaceful Assembly. That to secure these rights, BBQs are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the party-people, That whenever any Landlord's Anti-Party Policy becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Party-Policy, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety, Happiness and Kick-Assity.

As for the BBQ, let Facts be submitted to a candid world:

The BBQ will begin at 3:00pm.

Prior to the BBQ, let's say, 2:30pm, Miss Rhodes could really use any and all help that you would be willing to provide in moving boxes from her apartment to her basement, in order to help her fulfill the patriotic cause of Moving to France [!?!?!!?!?]
Her apartment is only a block or two from ours.

There is a fairly high possibility that you will get wet, seeing as we bought a metric shit-ton of water balloons. So BE PREPARED. This may happen following the moving of boxes.

There will be an amazing prize for the winners of a water balloon toss.

You can bring anything you want, or just yourself. We will be cooking up some hamburgers and BBQ chicken upon my brand new grill that replaced the one that was unpatriotically stolen from my house. FIREWORKS would be especially appreciated.

Feel free to come dressed as Uncle Sam, Wonder Woman, or Apollo Creed from ROCKY IV. We have Uncle Sam hats for those who are unprepared.

Whenever anyone says the word "America", it is appropriate to respond, "FUCK YEAH".

After the BBQ we will mosey on down the India Point Park for fireworks.
For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


So the party people came to the BBQ, they ate the BBQ chicken which I had made, they raved about how incredibly delicious it was (thanks, Dad!), they fought with water balloons, they moved boxes, they ate ice cream from the ice cream sundae bar, they shot each other with water pistols (thanks, Mom!). Everyone wore Uncle Sam hats and beads and American flag shirts and we ate potato salad, baked beans, and watermelon. Then we went to the park to watch the fireworks over the bay. While we were waiting my two friends and I gave an impromptu performance of the 'Star Spangled Banner' to the assembled crowd, him singing in his italian vibratto and the two of us in our best operatic voices. We didn't really think anyone was really listening, but they erupted into applause when we attempted and nailed the high note in "land of the free" and continued their applause well after we finished out "home of the brave". The fireworks were excellent, with several new innovations in firework technology making an appearance. After the show we went to my friend's house for drinks. She lives on the hill overlooking Providence so we could see the whole city skyline and watch all of the other fireworks shows across the area. I choked down half my drink (nasty!) and then we were ready to hit the road, we got a ride back and now it's almost 2 in the morning.

I guess I actually have to go back to working next week.

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A California Bakery
Tuesday. 6.22.10 11:55 am
I am sitting in a bakery by the beach in California. It's kind of a weird bakery, as the shelves are always only half-full when I come (around 9 am), and what is on them is highly dependent on the day, since the owner just makes whatever she wants whenever she wants to make them. So sometimes there are cookies, sometimes croissants, always only a half a dozen or less of each thing, and you never had any idea how much anything costs. It's usually reasonable though. Today I came for a chocolate cookies and a banana, but she didn't feel like making cookies and she plum forgot to buy bananas, so I ended up with a cocoa and a croissant. The people that enter the store just shrug and buy whatever is in front of them.

This sure isn't the East Coast.

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Last Love Letters
Thursday. 6.17.10 1:27 am
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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Dog Thoughts
Monday. 6.14.10 11:48 pm
"How could you have... BETRAYED ME?" Anna whispered in a hoarse voice to no one in particular, trying with limited success to cause her eyes to water with tears. She closed the door to the house and carefully placed the brimming water bowl on the porch and watched in satisfaction as the dog took long, sloppy tonguefuls.

"Don't you... don't you tell me that you never loved me," she continued (with a glance at the window to the kitchen to make sure Mother wasn't listening), "after Rio de Janeiro? After LIMA?" Anna considered for a moment, trying to remember other places she had heard of that would make good additions to her monologue. The thought of South America suddenly reminded her of her sister, who Anna thought must be only person in the entire world who had apparently never had the desire to pack up all of her things in a single night and move to South America. In fact, Elizabeth was actually opposed to the idea of a sudden move to South America, to the point that she usually refused to give a fair hearing to any of Anna's many proposals.

And now she was gone. Missing, disappeared into thin air, vanished. Anna sat down on the porch next to the dog, who sat in turn and drooled long tendrils of saliva and water onto Anna's leg.

Anna quickly brought the dog up to speed on Elizabeth's disapperance, and revealed to the her with some reluctance that she had begun to miss her sister, that things were boring when she was gone, and that while her sister was rather thin, "thin air" still seemed to be a bit thinner than her sister could manage. "Oh Milly," she said (in a rare departure from the usual, more colloquial "Milton Bradley, Sugar Mill, or Silly-Milly-bun"), "wherever am I going to find Elizabeth?" Milly's dark brown eyes focused on her while she spoke, and when she had finished speaking the dog sighed a dark sigh and sank to the porch. As usual Anna found it impossible to tell what Milly was thinking.

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Yet Still it is Unfinished
Monday. 6.14.10 1:00 am
When she is alert, she thinks of only of Mercury.

When she is tired, she thinks only of him.

When she sleeps, she thinks she is a spy involved in a complicated web of international espionage and must find a way to row a dinghy with only one oar all the way to Iceland.


Yet still the Mercury paper is unfinished.

Yet still it is unfinished.

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Hungry, Thirsty, Mind Games
Monday. 6.7.10 10:04 pm
I am in my apartment. I am reading "The Hunger Games". It is riveting, just as my sister had advertized. Present tense. Short, snappy sentences. I had intended to read a few pages before dinner. It is now nearing 10 pm.

I hear a sudden series of sharp knocks that catapult me into awareness. Back from that Other World in my book, there is now a futon, an apartment. Hunger from skipping dinner. Thirst. Strange, persistent knocks. Ideas fill my head. Someone hanging a frame? My roommate, returned from her trip but unable to find her keys? This happy picture is discounted immediately. The knocks are not friendly, inquiring, or even insistent. They are angry and irregular and close by.

I ease onto my feet. There is an open window next to the stairwell that leads to the door. I move at an angle to remain unseen from the window. At the base of the house is a shadowed figure. It makes short violent strokes in the darkness.

A light snaps on.

It is the boy next door, whom I've never met. He has a rug draped across the railing of the porch. He is beating it with a thick wooden stick. Dust flies everywhere, illuminated by the porchlight.

I step back from the window. The room feels yellow and quiet and empty. I glance down the long dark corridor towards my bedroom. Nothing awaits me there but my nightmares.

Maybe reading this book wasn't such a great idea after all.

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