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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.
Attempts to Meet Guys: Act I, Scene II
Thursday. 8.13.09 5:21 pm
So Angle met these guys on the street who told her to come to their show at this crazy place called the Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras is a super-awesome dance multi-plex that I've been trying to get someone to go to with me for about 2 years. One room line-dancing, one room live bands, one room kareoke, one room discotheque. They also have tons of black lights, air-hockey tables, inflatable dolphins, mannequins dressed like pirates, and neon palm trees.

Me: Can we dress like scene kids???
Angle and Cheeky: YES LET'S DO IT!

So we rummaged around for our very best poseur gear and I ended up in ripped jeans, a black band t-shirt, a motorcycle jacket, and a shock of bright blue hair that I'd bought from Hot Topics. Angle had ripped jeans and a black tank-top, Cheeky had ripped jeans, a band t-shirt, and a shiny pink bomber jacket. John came too, he had a Jet Propulsion Lab t-shirt on, but close enough.

One of the guys in the band came to talk to us and we revealed to him that we were at Club Mardi Gras just to see his band, which made him ecstatic.

"You guys are our first FANS!" he said, "Before this the only people that were there were our friends that we dragged along!" He gave us a group hug to commemorate this occasion and asked us if we all wanted autographs. We didn't have anything for him to sign, so we told him maybe later. He was very enthusiastic to meet me, and he immediately asked what kind of bike I had.

"Uh... a Schwinn?
"You have a motorcycle jacket on though, don't you have a bike?"
I leaned in so that he could hear me over the kareoke.
"I'm actually a huge poseur," I said, "I bought this jacket because it was on sale."
I decided last week that honesty was probably the best policy.
"Oh!" he said, "That's cool!"
"No," I said, "it's not really that cool, but thanks anyway."

Turns out that he was originally born in Russia, and that his dad was a geophysicist. We wanted to know specifically what his dad did, and he said that he invented some kind of machine that evaluated rock specimens to determine the abundance of a certain kind of mineral, but he didn't remember which one. Tough luck for a guy in a band with a motorcycle to meet a girl who looked like the kind of girl who would like guys in bands who had motorcycles only to find out that she actually liked geophysics and probably has more in common with his dad.

We soon decided that I should go out man-trapping wearing my handy unix commands t-shirt (printed upside down for easy reference), thinking that in this way I might actually attract the kind of guy I would be attracted to.

I'll report back on that later.

Comment! (9) | Recommend! (1)

French People, Roller Coasters, and a Menorah
Monday. 8.10.09 10:12 pm
So a couple of french people put an ad on the listserve that asked if anyone with a car would like to drive them to Six Flags, which is about 2.5 hours away.

Naturally I emailed them immediately to volunteer.

So Angle and the french people and I trundled off to Six Flags and had a most hilarious day riding every single roller coaster and water slide we possibly could in the shortest amount of time. We had a break for eating Panda Express. We left Providence at 8:15am and returned at 2:00am.

After we got back our new friends invited us to a dinner party at their house for the next day. We ended up meeting a large part of the computer science department and playing a wide variety of hilarious games. Cranium was a bit difficult because we had a chinese person, two french people, a Belgian and a German, and they didn't always know the famous people they had to act out or the songs they had to sing or the items they were supposed to draw (e.g.: action, cartwheel). Sometimes someone from another team would look at the card first to make a determination as to whether the item on the card would be comprehensible to a foreigner. One of these instances:

German: Is it something I would know?
Us: Hmm... [the word is "menorah"]... maybe you wouldn't know it.
Them: Well, give it to Yuri then [an American of Russian birth].
Yuri: Oh. I don't know what it is.
Us: WHAT?! How can you not know that?!?! It would be so easy to draw, too!
Us, aside: And the other two people on his team are Jewish!
Them: Can you split it up into parts?
Yuri: I don't think so... uh... I could try...
Them: Just DO IT! HURRY!!!
Yuri attempts to draw "men"
Them: Uh... people! Uh... a mob! A large family?
Us: Time's up. It was a menorah.
Them: A MENORAH! YOU DIDN'T KNOW MENORAH! How can you not know a menorah! We're all JEWS! AGHHHH!
My partner: Well, it would make sense that the German wouldn't know it, because there aren't many Jews in Germany...

...extremely awkward silence while everyone refrains from saying "ANYMORE!"

I also refrained from mentioning that there weren't quite as many Jews left in Russia anymore, either.


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Friday. 8.7.09 10:36 pm
Email from the Antarctica People:

This e-mail is being sent to all science and technical event participants and alternates. If you started the Deployment Process early, you may not be aware of all the changes for the 2009-2010 season. Please take a moment to review these late-breaking changes:
Most of you will deploy through Sydney this season instead of Auckland.

HAHAHA!! Apparently we're connecting through Sydney, Australia this year instead of going through Auckland on the way to Christchurch, New Zealand (where they prepare us for deployment to Antarctica). Why are they doing this? No idea! But what it means is that I'll get all 7 continents before I turn 26! (Technically I'll have visited 5 of the 7 while I was 25!)

How lucky can you GET!?!

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Why Zanzibar and College Health Services Personnel Will Never Understand Each Other
Friday. 8.7.09 8:59 am
So yesterday I marked the momentous occasion of my first GYN exam*. The squeamish should stop reading here.

*It should be added that the only reason I even submitted to this exam in the first place is because it was absolutely required in order that I might go to Antarctica to study rocks.

One of the first questions my wise doctor asked was how many fingers I could fit in my vagina. I didn't ask what was to me an obvious question, that is, "Why in God's name would someone want to stick their finger up their vagina?"... instead I told her that the thought had never really occurred to me before. After exam, the details of which I will spare you out of the common decency for mankind, the doctor told me that she was a little concerned that I wasn't "in touch with my vagina enough". She suggested that every woman should take "ownership" of her vagina, since, after all, it was another part of your body just like your ear. She suggested that maybe if I had some down time (after Antarctica, perhaps) that I should sit down and just try to see how many fingers I could fit in there, perhaps working my way up to more fingers over time, and just generally be curious about how it looked and operated. I should have informed her that my hoo-hah and I are in close cahoots, and that it told me that as long as it appears to be working, it should probably be left alone. Incidentally I have the same theory about how advisors should deal with their grad students.

Later in the day we talked about volcanoes on other planets for a couple of hours, had a teleconference with the commander of the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon where we talked about what it was like to walk on the Moon, and then two hours of discussion the future of space exploration and all of our ideas for missions to Mars with the chair of the Mars Exploration Planning Agenda Group.

Forgive me if I would rather do that than sit around in my apartment with my thumb up my ass, or any variants thereof.

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In the Parlance of Our Times
Monday. 8.3.09 7:20 pm
Yesterday I went to the beach and went boogie boarding. AWESOME.

Today I went to the doctor's to have my physical to qualify me for going to Antarctica. I got the most thorough doctor we have, and she asked me a million questions all about my health and the health of my family through the generations and my entire medical history whilst in grad school.

I had to have tubes and tubes and tubes of blood drawn and then they gave me a TB test and a tetanus shot. I have to come back on Thursday for more of a physical and an EKG.

Tonight I am going out to celebrate my friend's birthday. It was a bit awkward because clearly they are also going out to dinner but I am apparently not invited to that part. I was driving the friend who was planning the whole event to Michaels so that we could sign up for a cake decorating class, so she kept talking in vague generalities about how she had to get back to her apartment by a specific time for an unspecified event. Meanwhile people kept calling her phone to get directions to the restaurant.... awkward.

This entry has nothing to do with its title.

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Bo staff skills, computer hacking skills
Friday. 7.31.09 9:06 am
Yesterday was a very fun and productive day. Angle and I went to the gym at 6:15am, ran, stair-stepped, lifted, did crunches and things, etc. Then there was work, where I worked all day on modeling a Martian volcano and spent hardly any time at all screwing around because I was so interested in what my model was going to do. I laugh at people who have two computer screens, but now I have two and it really boosts my productivity.

Towards the end of the day our french collaborator Francois came by and he gave me all kinds of helpful hints to save me time. My advisor and I actually had a conversation about pure science, and then Angle came in and said that there were people spinning sticks out on the lawn. We were planning to spin poi (aka fire dancing, but without the fire so far because we're not that good yet), so we decided to go out and spin so that we could strike up a conversation with the stick spinners. Turned out they were actually people learning to fight with bo staffs. One of them noticed that the movement that we were doing with the poi was exactly the same movement as the bo staff, and he borrowed our poi to show the other students how this was so. We showed interest in learning to fight with a bo staff, so they invited us to be a part of the lesson.

Now we're white belts in Tang Soo Do!

Turns out spinning a bo staff is exactly like spinning poi, so we were already really good at it. The parts that were different turned out to be just like Tae Kwon Do, which is closely related, so I could do that, too.

After learning more Tang Soo Do and making some new friends, we went home and did some errands, and then Angle and I watched Lilo and Stitch and ate ice cream. All in all a splendid day!

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Way Better Than a Hotel
Friday. 7.24.09 11:29 am
Why staying at your parent's house while on vacation is like x1000 better than staying at a hotel:

-Comes with FREE rental car!
-Pantry stocked with the kind of food that you like!
-Closet stocked with slightly outdated versions of your favorite clothes!
-Bathroom stocked with your exact kind of shampoo!
-Extra toilettries stashed in random places in the bathroom from the last time you were here!
-Free games on the pool table!
-Free dog to pet with none of the accompanying responsibilities!
-Free wireless!
-Free air conditioning, microwave, dishwasher, and laundry!
-Free piano to play whenever you want!
-Fully stocked cabinet of DVDs with all your favorite movies!

If only I had had so much appreciation for all of these things while I was living here.

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Space Academy
Wednesday. 7.22.09 11:51 pm
The way the NASA guy talked to us made it seem like we had just been accepted as Star Fleet cadets: he talked about how this was our opportunity to shine, that NASA had seen potential in us and this was our opportunity to show them what we were made of. We were in the pipeline now, he said, and the farther the pipe went, the narrower it got. Look around the room, he said. This is your competition.

Our competition? Our competition for what? To become civil servants? To work for NASA, that floundering, unwieldy, money-bleeding enterprise which can't send a rover to Mars without coming in a half a billion dollars over budget? To become as poor as our NASA advisors?

For the first time someone was presenting NASA to me as it ought to be, a great honor, an opportunity to join a team of men and women whose destination was the stars, who worked in outer space and who were going to make it possible for everyone else to work there, too. We were in the pipeline. The pipeline to become principle investigators on missions, the pipeline to become astronauts, the pipeline to become NASA administrators! I began to feel a flicker of inspiration for the future that I had never felt before about joining NASA.

I went to lunch with my NASA advisor. We were in a group with a bunch of other NASA employees. They were talking about NASA parties. "Yeah," my advisor said, "NASA never has good food."
"That's because NASA is so goddamned cheap," somebody chimed in. "That's what you'll learn about NASA," he said, leaning over to me, "that NASA is so goddamned cheap." I thought about our new student orientation, and how they offered muffins and bananas and coffee for us for a suggested price of $1 per item. "So," said one of the people at the table, "what do you want to do when you graduate?" I felt my answer should be politic in front of my advisor, so I listed a group of institutions for which I might do research, like NOAA or the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Aren't you going to become a professor?" my advisor asked. I gave an equivocal answer involving work-life balances and the fact that my current academic advisor comes to work at 4 am every day. Another fellow said, "Yes, but all that academic and government stuff aside, are you going to get a real job?"

"Out there, you mean?" I said
"Yes, I mean, in oil or the like."
I had to admit to him that this was a possibility. I once again felt saddled with the choice between making a lot of money and making a difference. I was once again faced with question of whether or not, through all the inefficiency and red tape, that I could make a difference in an organization like this.

We were walking back to the building. It had some name like the Innovation Center, and each room had a name like "The Idea Loft" or "The Inspiration Room". I mentioned the room names, trying to get an idea about how inspired they felt when they used them. They exchanged a look, a look that seemed to say that these catch-phrase room names were just another bit of corporate bullshit that the Everyman laughed about behind closed doors away from the hearing of his supervisor. I felt my inspiration slipping away.

It's so easy to be a critic. It's so easy to be the guy who always says, "It's never going to happen," or "we're never going to make it". It would be very easy to never return to the Moon, and despite NASA's declarations, there are plenty of people within NASA itself who are pretty convinced it will never happen. But what if we could return to the Moon? What if we could establish a base there, build a telescope, reach outwards into space towards Mars and beyond? What if, just like the in the 1960s, mankind could work together towards a common, peaceful goal, and achieve it? One of the Apollo astronauts commented that it has become a popular phrase to say, "What, we can put a man on the Moon but we can't _fill in the blank_?" The answer is, we put a man on the Moon, and now there isn't anything we can't do. The whole point of space exploration isn't really the utility of having people in space, although that might be important far in the future. The point isn't to frivolously spend money that we could be using to help people or protect the nation (defense, medicare and medicaid, and social security have a bit more than 20% of the federal budget each, while NASA's share of the federal government funds is about 0.6%). The point isn't to increase the USA's profile among the nations or to establish ourselves as a leader. The point isn't even to make sure that there are plenty of scientists and engineers to design new weapons systems in times of need. The point is to unite all of humanity in an endeavor that is much larger than humanity itself, which requires the peaceful participation of the whole world, and which requires us to unite, not against anything, but for something, for the exploration of new frontiers, for new knowledge of the Solar System and the Universe, for knowledge of limits of the human spirit. That's what NASA is for. I guess maybe it's our opportunity, the opportunity of the kids in the pipeline, the opportunity of every kid out there today who ever dreamed about outer space, to get out there and make it happen, to rebuild NASA into the Space Academy. After all, doesn't the future belong to us? Can't we make it into whatever we want it to be? I'd like to speak on behalf of my Star Fleet classmates to say, "Let's do it."

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