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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.
Erta Ale
Thursday. 5.1.08 10:42 pm
In this world of ours there are but three lava lakes. Nyiragongo in Zaire, Erebus in Antarctica, and Erta Ale in Ethiopia.

Of the three, Erebus, shrouded in snow and ice, riddled with crevasses and gas pockets, located literally at the ends of the Earth, is considered the easiest to visit.

Nyiragongo, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a unique volcano in that it erupts the fluid and easy-flowing lavas of a shield volcano, but has the extremely steep sides of a stratovolcano. The combination allows lava to spill down the flanks of the volcano at up to 60mph. This volcano is extremely dangerous, and has the most active lava lake in the world.

But today we shall talk about Erta Ale. One of my friends recently visited Erta Ale, which is located in the Danakil Depression, deep in eastern Ethiopia in the Afar region. (That always made me think: the three wise men... did they come from Afar?)
The Danakil Depression is actually caused by the East African Rift, where the continent of Africa is being slowly ripped apart. If the rift is successful, there will be new sea floor between Somalia and the rest of Africa. Good news for the Somali pirates, I am sure.
This part of the rift is especially interesting to geologists because it is part of a triple juction, where three spreading centers join as one. One spreading center caused the Red Sea to open up (much to the chagrin of the Pharaoh). The other caused the Gulf of Aden. Both of these have been busy making seafloor for a while now. The prong that goes down into Africa is the newest, and so far it has succeeded in making the lowest, hottest, and most hell-like place on Earth.

A woman came today to talk about some of the seismic activity that has been going on in this region of the world. Apparently in 2006 there were suddenly a hundred earthquakes here in two days. Within the next two weeks, the total had climbed to 170 separate events. Some of her colleagues were out in the field interviewing people about what they had seen and felt. Periodically the earth would tremble. It began to get worse, and the earth was shaking, and fissures were appearing in the ground around them. The helicopter pilot who had brought them said, "I am leaving. If you want to leave, you are leaving now."

So they went. But two hours later, a gigantic fissure opened up in the very valley where they'd been standing. It was about 50ft across, probably more. ("Little Foot!") Deep in its gaping maw magma was welling, and this magma came up in random other places along the 60km rift zone.

Erta Ale itself sits upon the rift zone. Even as it is being built up by successive lava flows, it is also being torn apart. New lava seeps out its oozing gashes, and every spreading event is punctuated by dike emplacement and curtains of lava erupting out of the ground. My friend climbed to the top of this volcano- it's said to be a relatively mild hike once you get past the stinging sand, sweltering heat, and drooling camels. But it's all worth it for a glimpse of the lava lake:

This volcano has been continuously erupting since 1967. It is believed that its lava lake has been active for almost 100 years.

Thankfully, my friend returned alive and was neither consumed by the volcano nor kidnapped by the militant Afar tribesmen. Sadly, of the two, the latter is probably the most probable. At least these days they don't sell you into slavery as often, as they did to the gentlemen of the 1938 expedition to Emi Koussi in Northern Chad...

...but this is a tale for another time.

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Tuesday. 4.29.08 9:04 pm
If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Why doesn't my real life just LEAVE ME ALONE!

Why can't I just hide away in my ivory tower?

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Spinning Top
Monday. 4.28.08 10:27 pm
When I try to fall asleep, I feel like my mind is a large wooden top. It starts spinning, and it's spinning and spinning and spinning and thoughts are racing through it in every different color... and then... and then... the top starts wildly precessing, and the logic of my thoughts decay as the obliquity increases... until the whole top falls right over into oblivion.

Sometimes if I realize that this is what is happening, I can interrupt the process, like flicking a spinning quarter just right to keep it spinning.

But why would you want to? Falling asleep is one of my few true, natural skills.

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The Daffodils
Sunday. 4.27.08 4:08 pm
The daffodils explode like fireworks
Then succumb to the frigid air that lurks
in fitful Spring just around the nearest bend
Skeletons of smoke in ashen gray
They tremble in the wind and drift away
For greatest beauty always comes to swiftest end.

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My birthday
Monday. 4.21.08 10:13 pm
Didn't quite know how the old birthday would go this year, but it turned out just fabulous. Heard from all my favorite people, got some really sweet and thoughtful presents, ate delicious candy/cake/thaifood/icecreamcake, and just generally felt the love. And, having felt the love, I will now emanate it. :D

::love vibes to everyone reading this entry::

::love love love::

love you!

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Beware the Meglodon
Saturday. 4.19.08 12:25 am
So I finally met with my entire Master's committee today. We're supposed to meet every semester but I don't seem able to get it together but once a year. And last time one of my three committee members [the Geophysist] forgot and didn't show up. Today he also forgot but we were able to get him on the phone and tell him to come over. I was afraid he was mad at me because he hasn't asked me to help him work on the seafloor for a while, but turns out he totally isn't and he says we can work on it more this summer. Big sigh of relief. I'll have to remember what my codes say because I must admit I haven't thought about the seafloor since December. [THOUGH APPARENTLY OFF THE COAST OF WASHINGTON STATE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUAN DE FUCA PLATE THERE WAS A SWARM OF EARTHQUAKES WITH OVER 600 EARTHQUAKES IN 10 DAYS THAT BEGAN MARCH 10TH!!!! WTF???]

Anyway, I chatted to them about my research for like an hour, and also with these random other guys who were visiting my advisor and so had nothing to do. One of the guys, wow, so back in the day when he had just been accepted to graduate school at Harvard to work for this very particular guy, it was the summer before he started school and the advisor went into the field, contracted bubonic plague, and died. So he showed up at Harvard in the fall and they were like, "uh, sorry, but you'll have to have a new advisor."
Grad student: "wtf, man, when did this guy go to grad school, like the 14th century?"

Anyway, they said I could take my PhD qualifying exams whenever I feel like it! Hooray!!! I also pitched my random pet theory about cosmogenic isotopes (rare isotopes of elements that are made when charged particles from the solar wind interact with the nuclei of elements in rocks on a planetary surface). We still don't know if my mad plan would work, but they didn't find any problem with it [yet]. My advisor was satisfied and gave me a pat on the back and a wink. He also let it slip that he's going to Antartica this winter, but still nobody knows who he's going to take with him. Very likely not me [sad face].

Anyway, it was quite triumphant, and I celebrated by going to Fluid Mechanics, where they put me back in my place by teaching me a bunch of stuff that was totally and completely over my head in every way. Then I celebrated some more by screwing around for the rest of the day instead of writing my master's thesis. Give me a break! It was 76 degrees today!

Thalweg and I then went to Target and bought cheap clothing and then watched "MEGLODON", an amazing movie about a parallel ocean beneath our ocean which is filled with prehistoric sealife, including the 60ft shark, the MEGLODON, which escapes into our ocean and proceeds to EAT EVERYONE!

All told, a splendid day!

Hypothesized Megladon jaw size (from size of teeth)

This really happened. That t-rex, poor bastard, managed to survive a tragic shipwreck only to be feasted upon by the MEGLODON. He wouldn't have lived... hard to swim with those tiny little arms. Amazing that someone caught it on film.

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Lessons on Global Warming from the Garden of Eden
Thursday. 4.17.08 9:41 pm
Today I went to my Christian Fellowship meeting. It's the second time I went, the first time I ate jumbalaya, mmm-mm!

Anyway, this time we were focused on our relationship with the environment. We had invited the big environmental group on campus to talk about the environment and the intersection of the environment with people of faith.

The guy who leads it is really awesome. He is really laid back and casual, like a surfer. He's the kind of guy you imagine Jesus would be, really chill and peaceful but at the same time surprisingly deep and insightful. He's worried about whether or not we should be worried about the environment. I appreciate people who worry over what they should worry over. The environment is something I worry about less than I worry about the effects of good-intentioned people who go overboard trying to save the environment and do things that result in huge mistakes (like bio-fuels, for one pertinent example).

Anyway, last time I went we were talking about the story of Adam and Eve. In the story, they live in the garden and they are stewards of the garden and its inhabitants. It's not just that they live in harmony with the animals and plants, and it's not that they live just like any other animal. They live in the garden but they are the gardeners- they are masters of the animals and plants and they govern them. The best way to govern is to do subtle things that allow your garden to grow to its potential. Like any good master, they are really servants of the garden. They have a harmonious relationship with their environment, each other, and their God.

Then, when they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they become aware of the difference between good and evil. They were made with free will, and now with the knowledge of good and evil, they have the capacity to choose evil, to suffer for it, and to cause others to suffer for it. The first thing they gain as a result of this action is shame at their nakedness, and they hide from God.

This leads to a hilarious joke about Genesis 3:10:

A new pastor moved into a town,
and he went out one day to visit
his parishioners. All went well until
he came upon this one house.
It was obvious that someone was
home, but no one came to the door
even after he had knocked several times.
Finally he took out his card, wrote on
the back "Revelation 3:20" and stuck it
on the back of the door.

Revelation 3:20:
"Behold, I stand at the door,
and knock: if any man hear my voice,
and open the door, I will come in to him,
and will dine with him, and he with me."

Later in the week, as he was counting
the offering, he found his card
in the collection plate

Below his message was the notation

"Genesis 3:10."

Genesis 3:10: "And he said, I heard thy voice
in the garden, and I was afraid, because
I was naked: so I hid myself."

But anyway , jokes aside, their open and harmonious relationship with God is shattered. When God asks Adam if he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam immediately blames Eve for what he has done "The woman you put here with meshe gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." When God asks Eve about it, she blames the serpent for tricking her. The knowledge has shattered relationships between humans as well. They realize that they were not only naked in the literal sense, but all of their thoughts and feelings and intentions had been exposed as well. And so they clothe these thoughts and intentions from each other. And last, they have shattered their relationship with their environment, and instead of the Earth continuously yielding bounty, they must work the ground with back-breaking labor in order to cause it to bear fruit.

If this weren't enough, God then enters his curious first person plural mode of speaking and says, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

You must recall that there were not one, but two trees in the middle of the garden, but Adam and Eve were allowed to eat from the Tree of Life, just not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This seems to be extremely harsh of God right here. First, all of their most precious relationships have been damaged by their shame and their distance from each other, God, and their charge, the garden. Now God takes away the Tree of Life as well?

Here's where the guy who was giving the talk gives this story an interesting spin. He says that it isn't God's spite, but God's love that moves him to make this decision. It was Adam and Eve's choice to fall from grace, but if they ate the fruit of the Tree of Life, they would stay that way forever. They would always live in a world with broken relationships, a harsh and unforgiving environment incapable of being subdued or properly governed, and a distance from God. So it is from kindness that God bars the way to the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life.

Naturally this message has to tie into the Christian message, because we're at a Christian Fellowship meeting. How?

Because Adam was the first gardener, but he isn't the last, says the leader-guy. When Jesus comes along, he says, "You live in a world that is full of pain, sin, suffering, turmoil, and distance from God. But God has brought back the Tree of Life, and offers a way for you to re-enter Eden, eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever."

Jesus is often compared to a shepard, but he is also a master gardener, and his sheep are gardeners, too (look how they've been trimming the grass!) In terms of the popular terms of today, you can't have a sustainable garden by making all of the gardeners unemployed. People have to be involved in making their part of the Earth flower and grow fruitful, because that's their purpose. It's their job to be steward of their fellow man, their environment, and themselves.

But anyway, you could tell that the environmental group was kind of there to manipulate us into hearing about their cause. In many ways, environmentalism is just like all of the evangelical Christian groups that they can't stand, angling for converts and convinced of their own holiness. We were there to learn about each other, but really we were there to learn about them, and they were there to convince us of the urgency of their message. Come on now. We invented that technique during the Middle Ages. Repent or face the end of the world? Change your ways before it's too late? It's been done.

One kid was Jewish, though, and he was the one who could relate best to where we were coming from. He was the only one that had felt the intensely personal feeling of a greater power. The other two said, "Spirituality" as a catch phrase to get our attention, but the one kid you could tell actually knew what that meant. But of course our leader had an interesting comment once again. He said that what the environmental movement lacks is hope. And that's something the community of faith has always had in spades. Ironically, the community of faith is just what the environmental movement needs: hope.

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Quick Water
Wednesday. 4.16.08 7:42 pm
"If you look over the side of your boat and you see chunks of pumice floating in the water, run for the nearest life jacket immediately," my advisor begins.

Pumice is a very light volcanic rock. In the volcano, the pressure decreases as the magma rises to the surface, since the pressure on the magma is due to the overlying rock. Just before it reaches the surface, the pressure gets so low that gas, which had previously been squashed into the liquid, comes back out as a gas again, making bubbles in the liquid. These bubbles coalesce to form larger bubbles, until there are almost more bubbles than magma. The pieces of magma get stretched out to form the bubble walls. If the bubbles continue to grow, eventually the bubble walls will shatter, and the pieces of bubble-wall will be thrown out of the volcano and float to the ground as ash. That's why pieces of ash are so angular-looking.

If, however, the magma gets thrown out at that intermediate time, when the bubbles had been made but they weren't broken yet, then the result freezes into pumice, a rock filled with gas and holes that is so light it floats on water.

"When you see pumice floating all around your boat," continued my advisor, "this means that an eruption has just taken place perhaps immediately below you in the ocean. An explosive eruption under that much pressure [the pressure of the ocean water] requires a large amount of gas, and that gas gets released into the ocean water."

Now get this: If enough gas is released into the ocean water, the water will temporarily be reduced in density. That is, the column of water below the ship will be composed of a large portion of gas in addition to water. This makes a boat that is normally buoyant into the equivalent of a block of lead, because buoyancy depends on the relative densities of the two objects.

"Some Japanese fishing boats have radioed for help, citing just the same conditions that I have just described to you now."

He pauses for effect.

"Those boats were never heard from again."

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