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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. 36
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.
The Council of Atmospheres
Monday. 1.25.21 11:31 pm
The Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, is less than a month away from its landing. Everyone around my work is holding their breath a bit as the day approaches. The technology that we are using to land it is pretty crazy, even if it already worked once when we landed Curiosity in 2011.

In preparation for landing, my orbiter is taking measurements of the temperature and opacity of the atmosphere to wager a guess at its density. The density of the atmosphere of course figures into how much the incoming spacecraft will be slowed down by its parachute and its heat shield, ultimately determining how close to its targeted landing site it will be when its ready to deploy its final landing stage.

My orbiter is just one of the many spacecraft on Mars taking measurements to prepare for the landing. To coordinate the information, they have awoken the "Council of Atmospheres", which has been slumbering since the landing of the InSight mission in 2018. The Council of Atmospheres is composed of a bunch of experts in atmospheric data and atmospheric modeling. They will gather all of the information from all of the orbiters and models and make the ultimate recommendation to the rover. Once on Mars, Perseverance will rover around picking up samples and caching them. The cached samples will be returned to Earth by a pair of upcoming missions-- one for launching the samples into Mars orbit, and the second for taking the samples back to the Earth. If everything goes according to plan, we could get the samples back sometime before 2030.

In other news, it SNOWED today in Altadena (near Los Angeles). SNOW was falling all around the palm trees. It was crazy.

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Monday. 1.25.21 4:01 am
Me and Ben, walking through the parking lot. He brings me in and I hug him and put my head on his shoulder.

"HEY YOU!" says a woman.
We turn around. "Us?"
Me: "Um, yes..." ::reaching for the cell phone::
Her: "Then you should take a selfie, girl, because you two are the cutest thing I have ever seen. And when you get mad at him, and if he ever get mad at you, you better take it out and look at it, and remember this moment!"
Us: "Uh... oh. I see. Thank you"
Her: "Ha ha HAH! Goodnight!"

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Lives we didn't change
Sunday. 1.17.21 3:07 pm
There was a guy in my lab in France who was about our age. He had come from India to do his PhD, and he didn't speak much French yet. He was a nice guy, and he became our friend. After some time in the lab he returned to India to meet his bride, with whom his parents had arranged a marriage.

"Are you excited about your marriage?" We asked him.

He said he didn't really have any thoughts about it.... if she was a good cook, he would be satisfied.

Once his wife arrived, we told him that he should introduce her to us to she could have some girlfriends in this strange, new land where she didn't speak the language.

He told us that he didn't want her to meet us (girls who were PhDs and post-docs in a lab) because it might give her "too many ideas".

It's been about 8 years since then.

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Life in Space
Wednesday. 1.13.21 7:12 am
Today I learned all about Jeff Bezos through Wikipedia. Apparently when he was 18 he was the valedictorian of his high school and gave a speech where he outlined his vision to move humanity into the stars while keeping the Earth as a giant nature reserve.

I guess he's actually kind of making good on this plan. Meanwhile when I was that age my plan was to annex all of Canada except Quebec, which I planned to make into an independent country. I guess I haven't moved the needle much on that goal.

Tonight my student came over for dinner in the backyard with his friend. He was visiting from Arizona.

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It's ok, they're speaking Chinese
Tuesday. 1.12.21 12:22 am
I'm sort of learning Chinese.

At least, I am practicing on Duo Lingo. So far I am doing a great job remembering what the characters mean and translating sentences, but not as good at remembering what the characters sound like in actual Chinese.

I have been mentally transported back to grad school, when I took Chinese for a couple of months in a random informal class taught by a fellow grad student. I didn't think I learned that much at the time, but it was clearly hidden in my mind somewhere. My lao shi did a great job telling us what the symbols meant and how they combined to form a compound word. Like Zhang guo (China) being composed of the character for middle (Zhang) and the character for country (guo).
That really made it stick in my head.

Perhaps I need to pair Pimsleur's language CDs with my Duolingo habit so that I can get the sounds and tones down instead of just reading. Too bad I no longer have a commute!

再见 !

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Proposals of the Future
Thursday. 1.7.21 8:56 pm
Right now we are writing a couple of proposals, and hopefully at least one of them will be funded.

One involves going to Mexico to take images of a volcanic cone with a spectrometer. Apparently the closest town is a beachside town right on the Gulf of California. (Heck yeah)

The second one involves returning to our field site in the Argentinian altiplano and bringing a big meteorology station and time-lapse cameras to watch the landscape change in response to the wind.

The third would be a modeling task using a global climate model to simulate the effect of a large volcanic eruption on the modern Martian climate.

Writing a proposal is kind of like a formalized process of saying what you would do if you win the lotto. The chances of winning are higher, but as a trade off you have to actually do something that the sponsor finds useful. I hope they'll find some of these things useful!

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How Science Works
Thursday. 1.7.21 1:03 am
About a year ago, I reviewed a paper from a hotel in Argentina right before I deployed to the field. At first I thought the paper sounded good, and I wrote back that I had a few questions about things but that otherwise it looked publishable. I also pointed out that if the findings were actually true, it was even more important than the authors had even said, because it could explain two recent extraordinary findings that had come out of the same region.

Unfortunately (for the authors) I read the paper again much more carefully when I got it back, and realized that they were wrong about their central observation. The way that they interpreted some low-resolution data was valid, but high-resolution data of that area existed which they had failed to look at or include in their manuscript, which showed quite clearly that they were wrong in their original interpretation.

I spent a LONG time refuting their work. I provided figures, I did analyses... I practically wrote a "counter paper" to what they had written proving them wrong. Due to my hard work (all done in my free time), the journal rejected the paper, and I got an award from the journal for "excellence in reviewing".

But a few weeks ago, what should I find online? They had submitted their paper to another journal, and less careful reviewers had just accepted it. They had included my original suggestions that it explained the other sensational features of the region, thereby increasing its impact. It was splashed across the news, from space.com all the way to the New York Times.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how science works.

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Ron Paulbo
Monday. 1.4.21 2:55 am
A while back when the government shut down, the government was trying to make everything as painful as possible for everyone involved so they shut down the national parks and forests. In the mountains nearby my house, this basically meant stopping cleaning up trash and cleaning the toilets.

As a citizen, I felt that it was my duty to help by helping clean the trails myself, and I soon found a group of Libertarians that shared my view and had organized an event around this theme.

After meeting up with this group of strangers, we walked the trail and cleaned up as much litter as we could, finally ending up at the bathroom. None of the Libertarians could stand the smell of the bathroom and decided that, given that they were volunteers after all, they would skip them (hence proving in miniature that a society run by Libertarian volunteers wouldn't actually work and paid state employees were actually necessary).

The best part of the day was when one of the volunteers misheard my dog's name as "Ron Paulbo" instead of "Juan Pablo". They thought that this name for a dog was so hilarious and apt that I didn't have the heart to tell them it wasn't really his name.

In the end, I cleaned the bathroom by myself.

"Ask not what your country can do for you," after all... "ask what you can do for you country" (even if the answer is cleaning toilets).

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