intertribal: (everything i do i do it big)
... and still living like a 4 dollar vic.



It's been a day of near-misses, travel-wise (almost missed my train back from Bandung to Jakarta, because I left my phone at my "Tante Marjie"'s house... then, thought that I was leaving Jakarta for Bangkok/L.A. Tuesday afternoon, when really I am leaving tomorrow afternoon).  Natnari "Whan" Sihawong is officially my patron saint of travel, for forcing me to realize the correct date. Also, I can now pack a suitcase at record speed.

But: I have come to realize, just in time, that things could be a lot worse, in all aspects of my life.  So, that's a pretty good thing to realize for one's birthday, right?  And I declare that this coming year of my life will be tahun vivere pericoloso.  The year of living dangerously, as Sukarno says.  ~Ambiguities Galore~  And in the meantime...

intertribal: (i want love)
Fata Morganas (responsible for "The Flying Dutchman," UFOs, etc., named for Morgan Le Fay): "Fata Morgana mirages tremendously distort the object or objects which they are based on, such that the object often appears to be very unusual, and may even be transformed in such a way that it is completely unrecognizable."

For example:
In 1818, Sir John Ross was on a voyage which was an attempt to discover the long-sought-after Northwest Passage. Ross's ship reached Lancaster Sound in Canada. The Northwest Passage was straight ahead, but John Ross did not go in that direction because he saw, or thought he saw, in the distance, a land mass with mountains, which he believed made going any further simply impossible. He named the mountain range of this supposed land mass "Crocker Mountains". He gave up and returned to England, despite the protests of several of his officers, including First Mate William Edward Parry and Edward Sabine.  The account of his voyage, published a year later, brought to light their disagreement, and the ensuing controversy over the existence of Crocker Mountains ruined his reputation. Just a year later William Edward Parry was able to sail further west, through those non-existent mountains.

Ross's second mistake was to name the apparent mountain range after the First Secretary of the Admiralty. Naming what was in fact a mirage after such a high official cost Sir John Ross dearly: he was refused ship and money for his subsequent expeditions, and was forced to use private funding instead.

By an odd coincidence, during a 1906 expedition 88 years after Ross's expedition, Robert Peary gave the name Crocker Land to a land mass which he believed he saw in the distance, northwest from the highest point of Cape Thomas Hubbard, which is situated in what is now the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. Peary named the apparent land mass after the late George Crocker of the Peary Arctic Club. Peary estimated the landmass to be 130 miles away, at about 83 degrees N, longitude 100 degrees W.

In 1913, Donald Baxter MacMillan organised the Crocker Land Expedition which set out to reach and explore Crocker Land. On 21 April the members of the expedition saw what appeared to be a huge island on the north-western horizon. As MacMillan later said, "Hills, valleys, snow-capped peaks extending through at least one hundred and twenty degrees of the horizon.”

Piugaattoq, a member of the expedition and a Inuit hunter with 20 years of experience of the area, explained that this was just an illusion. He called it "poo-jok", which means mist. However MacMillan insisted that they press on, despite the fact that it was late in the season and the sea-ice was breaking up. For five days they went on, following the mirage, until on 27 April, having covered some 125 miles (201 km) of dangerous sea-ice, MacMillan was forced to admit that Piugaattoq was right. Crocker Land was in fact a mirage, probably a Fata Morgana.

Song for tonight (for the line "I still dream of Dad.  Though he died."  Although today I was dreaming mostly about Silent Hill and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of all fucked up combinations):

intertribal: (fly girl)
I have been in DC for two weeks now.  So far I have:Oh shit.  The roof is leaking.  BRB.
intertribal: (aviatrix)
I'm moving on the 24th, so I probably won't be on LJ for a while - sorry!  I will be more available via email.  I'm flying early early in the morning on Wednesday, and we all know what that means: Air Crash Investigation marathon! 


Also, I just watched Up In The Air and I'm pretty sure it's like the anti-Fight Club, which I found pretty amusing (along with the scenes of Omaha's airport).  I think if you combined those two movies (forming some poppy monstrosity that would involve lots and lots of airplanes nose-diving and then flattening out just before hitting the ocean), you would get my approach toward life. 


So, this is that meme that was circling around - I commented on people's memes, then they gave me five questions to answer, so if you want questions to answer, just comment on mine.  Like "hey" or "give me questions!"  Of course, I may not get back to you until next week. 


From [livejournal.com profile] cucumberseed:


1) Form of entertainment in which you have the hardest time seeing value.  I actually looked up wikipedia's listing of "Entertainment."  I'd probably say, out of that list, daily comic strips.  And talk radio.


2) (Recycling one of Sovay's questions) What was the first music you bought for yourself?  Depends on the meaning of "bought for yourself."  The first thing I picked out for myself and had my dad buy for me was The Lion King soundtrack (he probably thought thank God because before then I was trying to sing "Circle of Life" very badly all by myself.  The first thing I bought with my own money - allowance money, that is - is a harder question, but is probably Garbage's Version 2.0 based on "Push It."


3) Secondary world you dislike the most.  I'm not a huuuge fan of Narnia, but that's mainly because I'm so contrarian that I'm all "No!  I want the White Witch's Narnia!"  I do like lawless sea-Narnia a lot, just not kingdom-Narnia.  Generally when I run into secondary worlds that feel very didactic and obvious to me, I push back against them. 


4) If you could remove one aspect from any piece of fiction, what piece of fiction and what aspect?  I don't know if I would, honestly.  Generally it's not just one thing that makes a piece of fiction not work for me. 


5) Substance, fictional or real, you find most terrifying.  Garmonbozia!   Or poisonous gas/airborne disease clouds, more realistically. 


From [livejournal.com profile] squirrelmonkey:


1. What's your favorite dream skill (that is, a skill you only possess in dreams)?  I very rarely have skills in dreams.  Maybe the power to teleport effortlessly across space?  In dreams it's more like changing channels, but eh.


2. Which writer described your favorite version of a real city, and which city was it?  I'm enjoying Erik Larson's The Devil In The White City, about 1890s Chicago, though that's non-fiction. 


3. If for the rest of your life you could only watch movies by a single director, who would it be?  Werner Herzog.  I would say David Lynch, but I can't imagine that would be good for my sanity.  Herzog would be very good for my sanity.  A little on the glum side, I suppose.


4. What book would you write if you were sure it will come out as good as you imagine it to be?  I'm going to skip the one I'm writing now and go for one that I've only envisioned in my head - my "Nusantara" trilogy (The Hotel California, Running Up That Hill, Tremble Burn Die), which would be a magical realist take on Indonesia's transition from a stable dictatorship to an unstable democracy from the perspective of American expats living there during each period.  It would be incredibly difficult for many reasons - the main characters in the second book would be based on my parents, for one.  For two, expat life is very hard to write about well, in my experience. 


5. What's your favorite reality show?  I like professional reality shows (Chopped, Project Runway, and Top Chef are tops), but get kind of tired of them after a while.  So I'm going to say Locked/Banged Up Abroad.  I know it probably sounds bad, but it's one of the most heartfelt, nervewracking documentary-recreation shows out there.  The producers are making the new SyFy show Paranormal Witness, which is probably the best thing PW has going for it.  I think LUA should be part of high school Civics classes.  Because clearly there are still people out there who think the solution to unemployment is a trip to Peru to smuggle cocaine.  I also grew up on Bangkok Hilton, so there's that. 
intertribal: (book of black valentines)
I'm going to DC for the weekend to search for housing in person.  And I haven't really been able to think about much else other than housing, so I hope I find something over the weekend so I can stop worrying about it.  I feel slightly like I'm going on one of those America's Next Top Model frantic go-sees, where the models have to scurry around an unknown city trying to make various appointments within four hours or whatever.  Sadly neither DC's streets nor its metro system make any goddamn intuitive sense (compared to New York's).  So looking at the bus maps I'm like "hoooow does this fit what I see on Google Maps...?"  And then I realize I have to turn the map 100 degrees.  Regardless, I will be in the far NW of the city, basically on the DC side of Bethesda. 

As my title indicates, my other obsession right now is Twin Peaks.  I'm showing it to my mom.  Basically I can't imagine a more perfect television show for me. 


I'm not really depressed - I mean, I even feel less anxious than I was earlier in July - I'm just kind of in that tense, awkward limbo between my life in Lincoln and my future unknown life in DC/grad school.  I just tell myself this is a "new adventure," to be all open and chill about it - remind myself of the mindset that I had when I went on my internship in Indonesia during college, because that was actually one of the happiest recent times of my life.  Basically, I'm trying to channel Agent Cooper. 

My friend Lucia is getting me this for my birthday.  Hooray, dinosaurs.

I was recently told that I was more fun than someone thought I would be.  That's nice, right?  Then again, this person was also amazed that girls like horror movies.
intertribal: (Default)
I feel like I haven't been to LJ in a while, but that isn't really true.

Dude I'm dating came back from Morocco recently - said there were some nice scenes of police beating protesters because they didn't have the proper permit to protest, of course.  Also, there's a large, beautiful mosque in Casablanca that is built on artificial land on top of the Atlantic - it's architect didn't take into account that the Atlantic will someday come back and bite that artificial land in the butt, eventually sinking the mosque.  It also cost the country a lot of money and displaced a bunch of poor people without compensation.  He also tried to climb this mountain, but failed.

Saw X-Men, don't have anything to say about it beyond what I told [livejournal.com profile] cafenowhere (Leland Palmer as Dean Rusk?).  Yesterday I watched an interesting little extremely low-budget horror movie on Netflix called The Ceremony (don't ask me what's up with that cover), about a guy graduating college who finds that his roommate has left behind an odd little book surrounded by a ring of burning candles.  Being concerned about fire safety, the main character blows the candles out, and being a curious student, starts reading the book, which turns out to be a history of a ritual used to summon Satan, here "the man in the white suit."  Of course he reads some unfortunate parts aloud and things start happening around the house, culminating in a phone conversation where he tells a friend, "The furniture, it came alive.  It had to be contained."  It takes its cues from Paranormal Activity and had some interesting touches, particularly when the main character learns to his horror that he can understand as well as speak the language being spoken by the presence in his house.  It's creepy, it has a cast of essentially one person, and it's well-made on a shoestring budget.  Good job, director James Palmer.  Horror fans, check check it.

I've been putting all my writing efforts into the novel, which is now at 77,000 words.  Unfortunately, it's nowhere near finished, so looks like I'll be overshooting that 100,000 word goal.  This is how it's getting done: I made an extremely detailed outline of 10,000 words, and I'm writing it scene by scene, often out of order.  I do foresee problems with flow and continuity and a believable evolution of characters, doing it this way, but at least it's getting done this way, right?  I'm going to quit my job in July to devote the rest of the summer to writing this thing before I move to D.C. to start graduate school. 

Had a David Lynch moment today while driving to work.  We've had construction in the left lane of this one big swerving road for a month now, so all the regular commuters automatically drive in the right lane even before we're told to merge right.  But today there was a new big flashing construction sign telling cars that the right lane would be closed up ahead, so go into the left lane.  Everybody's like, wow, maybe they finished the left lane and are starting work on the right lane?  And after about a mile of driving in the left lane, with no sign of construction on the right, the old familiar big flashing sign pops up telling cars that the left lane was closed, so we all scoot back over to where we started.  Calisthenics for cars, I guess.  Speaking of David Lynch, I'm trying to convert my mom to Twin Peaks.  It's going... interestingly.  One of my tactics is comparing it to our favorite shared show, the British cozy-mystery series Midsomer Murders.  They both feature a gamut of weird people in seemingly-innocuous, scenic small towns, grisly murders, and supernatural undertones.  If you're unfamiliar with MM, I've always thought it was what Hot Fuzz was tipping its hat to.  MM is also one of the few TV shows to ever make me cry (in the episode "Green Man," which is very environmentalist).  Someday I'll do an ode to my favorite MM episodes, cuz it's a wonderful show.

I'm almost done with Alan Heathcock's Volt (one more story to read).  Also almost done with Godforsaken Lord of the Rings (two more chapters).  

Here's an acoustic version of Korn's "Freak on a Leash," with Evanescence's Amy Lee.  Shut up, I don't shop at Hot Topic!  Also, Evanescence did a cover of "Thoughtless" that I like, but a lot of Korn fans are all "what the fuck this song has to be full of AGGRESSION and RAGE D:<" and I'm like, whatever.  


intertribal: (baby got a poison gas)
Mt. Erebus, Earth's southernmost volcano, on Ross Island, Antarctica:


The mountain was named after a ship in the British Royal Navy, the HMS Erebus.  The HMS Erebus was named after an ancient Greek "personification of darkness and shadow, which filled in all the corners and crannies of the world," or maybe the lower half of the underworld.  The ship went to the Antarctic in 1840 under Captain James Ross.  The island the mountain sits on is named after the captain, and the mountains are named after his ships, Erebus and Terror.  After studying the Ross Ice Shelf, magnetism, oceanography, and Antarctic ornithology, the two ships went to the opposite pole in 1845 under Captain Sir John Franklin.  That expedition didn't end so well.  The ships became moored in the ice, were abandoned, and later boarded by Inuits looking for copper.  Their wrecks haven't been found, but people are still searching for them.


Man Proposes, God Disposes, by Edwin Landseer (1864)

Air New Zealand Flight 901, a sightseeing flight that crashed on the slopes of Mt. Erebus on November 28, 1979, killing all 257:


Edmund Hillary, Mr. Everest and a New Zealand native, was scheduled to act as a guide on the flight.  He had to cancel to do a speaking tour in the U.S., and his good friend Peter Mulgrew filled in for him.  It was the second time he narrowly missed dying in a plane crash - in 1960 he was supposed to be on TWA Flight 266, but was late.  His first wife and daughter did not share his luck, as they died in a plane crash in Kathmandu in 1975.  In 1989, Edmund Hillary and Peter's widow June, both having lost their spouses to plane crashes, got married.  


Edmund Hillary with an airplane he used to explore Antarctica

The Air New Zealand flight crew were used to flying along the open water of McMurdo Sound, so they had dropped to 2,000 feet (technically, flights were not supposed to descend below 6,000 feet, but the Air New Zealand sightseeing flights violated this rule regularly to provide better views).  They did not realize that the coordinates had been adjusted earlier that morning to take them over Mt. Erebus - the briefing the pilots attended earlier in the month included copies of the old flight plan, and amazingly they were never directly told that the plan had changed.  The Mt. Erebus path would have been protested as too dangerous by U.S. Air Traffic Control, and Justice Mahon argued later there had been a deliberate attempt by Air New Zealand to cover it up - rather than latitude and longitude, the computer program simply displayed "McMurdo" as the final destination.  Mt. Erebus is 12,448 feet high.

On top of the new coordinates/flight path, the flight experienced a "sector whiteout" when the automated computer system took the airplane toward Mt. Erebus.  The ground was completely covered with snow; the overcast clouds were entirely white.  Through optical illusion, the horizon disappeared and the mountain became invisible.  The plane disintegrated upon impact.
 

The recovery effort was named Operation Overdue.  Workers camped on the mountain beside the wreckage, struggling on 12 hour shifts to recover all human remains - from under the fuselage, under the wings.  The bodies were covered in "black human grease" from burns and the workers became covered in this grease as well.  Inspector Jim Morgan led the mortuary team:
The Skua gulls were eating the bodies in front of us, causing us much mental anguish as well as destroying the chances of identifying the corpses. We tried to shoo them away but to no avail, we then threw flares, also to no avail. Because of this we had to pick up all the bodies/parts that had been bagged and create 11 large piles of human remains around the crash site in order to bury them under snow to keep the birds off. To do this we had to scoop up the top layer of snow over the crash site and bury them, only later to uncover them when the weather cleared and the helos were able to get back on the site.  [...]

After we had almost completed the mission, we were trapped by bad weather and isolated. At that point, NZPO2 and I allowed the liquor that had survived the crash to be given out and we had a party (macabre, but we had to let off steam).
These workers suffered post-traumatic stress.  16 bodies were not identifiable and the bodies of 28 passengers were never found. 


The official accident report, not surprisingly, blamed pilot error.  It is always easier to blame dead pilots.  Public outcry led to a one-man inquiry by Justice Peter Mahon, who accused Air New Zealand of "an orchestrated litany of lies."  However, Air New Zealand appealed these findings to avoid having to pay damages.  Air New Zealand didn't deny Mahon's conclusion as to the cause of the crash - the new flight plan and the bad weather, not pilot error - but objected that there had been no conspiracy, no cover-up.  The Privy Council agreed with Air New Zealand.  However, Mahon received a posthumous Jim Collins Memorial Award for "exceptional contributions to air safety." 

The doomed airplane had only just returned to service.  It was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and in May of that same year another DC-10 had crashed in Chicago, killing 271 - the deadliest air crash on U.S. soil - resulting in DC-10s being grounded around the world.  In the early 1970s, two DC-10s had been in accidents because of the faulty design of its cargo door (A/N: these two accidents and those cargo doors were the basis of the plane crash in my story "Everything Dies, Baby").  The FAA, which has closer ties to the airline industry than the NTSB, bailed out McDonnell Douglas in those earlier incidents.  Although the 1979 accidents had nothing to do with McDonnell Douglas or the DC-10's design, the public reputation of the DC-10 bottomed out.  Sales of the airplane never recovered.  But in 1989 - the year Edmund Hillary and June Mulgrew got married - another DC-10 crash-landed without one engine or any flight controls in a dramatic fire ball that nonetheless only killed 111 out of 296.  In this case, "experts praised the DC-10's sturdy construction as partly responsible for the high number of survivors."  This latest crash, in a corn field off a highway in Iowa, served as inspiration for Peter Weir's movie Fearless.  The DC-10 continues to fly under a new name, the MD-10.  McDonnell Douglas has merged with Boeing.

Sightseeing flights in Antarctica stopped after the Mt. Erebus Disaster.  Air New Zealand has never resumed them but Qantas picked it up again in 1994, through Croydon Travel.  On their New Year's Eve flight passengers sing "Auld Lang Syne" and dance to a live jazz band as they become the first people to see the new year sun. 


In 2009, thirty years after the crash, Air New Zealand apologized to the families of the victims who did not receive adequate "support and compassion" from Air New Zealand, and paid respects to the pilots that they had initially blamed.  CEO Rob Fyfe said:
For many, flight still has that element of magic, a sense of awe, that promise of reaching out to explore new worlds and a sense of adventure. And so it was for the crew and passengers of flight TE901, that set off to fly over the amazing Antarctic wonderland almost 30 years ago...

We are exposed to risk every day of our lives and aviation is no exception. Despite the enormous efforts taken to minimise the risk associated with flying we cannot eliminate risk completely and occasionally, very occasionally, accidents occur.
The occasion was the unveiling of a sculpture commemorating the crash, called "Momentum."  "Momentum" is also associated with the crash of another Air New Zealand flight in the Mediterranean the year before, which killed all 7 on board.  The Mediterranean crash occurred in the morning of November 28, 2008 - exactly 29 years after the crash on Mt. Erebus.  It stands at Air New Zealand's head office in Auckland.  Prime Minister John Key also spoke at the event:
"The Air New Zealand crew who perished on Mt Erebus had been especially chosen. The passengers who travelled with them were also exceptional. They displayed the kind of curiosity, boldness and bravery that sets New Zealanders apart from the rest of the world [A/N: Japanese, American, British, Canadian, Australian, French, and Swiss citizens were also on board].

Today's ceremony provides an opportunity to honour those people who died in these two accidents. I hope that this quivering sculpture that signifies the fragility and beauty of air travel, will go some way to assuage the grief anger and sadness at the terrible waste of human potential."
"Momentum" isn't the only memorial for Flight 901.  A stainless steel cross stands on Mt. Erebus above Scott Base, and a memorial for the unidentified is at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland, where the unidentified remains are buried.  Next to the memorial is a Japanese cherry tree planted by the Japanese Bereaved Family Erebus Society.  Auckland Airport hosts a memorial for the crew with the words "This garden is your special place."  Special stained glass windows are part of the St. Matthew's in the City Church and St. Stephen's Church.  In January 2010, victims' relatives placed a sculpted Koru by the cross on Mt. Erebus - the Koru is filled with letters written by the relatives.  Philip Gibbs, the chaplain who presided over this latest memorial service remembers: "Living in such a place, hardly affected by humans, I developed a strong sense of the sacred in the immensity of the natural environment. Could its magnificence hide secrets of the cosmological beginnings of space, matter and time?  In the silence of the icy continent, the creative Word calls forth life as it has done for eons. The southern continent resists human intervention."


"May the grace of Antarctica’s stillness be yours, the grace of its beauty and vastness be yours,
to enlighten your dreams, to open your spirit to eternity, until the angels of light awaken you." - Philip Gibbs

"During the Antarctic summer, snow melt on the flanks of Mount Erebus continually brings debris from the crash to the surface of the snow; it is plainly visible from the air."

ETA: For those interested in a documentary, Flight 901 to Erebus is pretty good (though dated).
intertribal: (Default)
Leaving at 5 a.m. tomorrow to visit two grad schools in D.C.  Feel ridiculously nervous about it even though I've already been admitted, so I'm the one doing the deciding, not the schools.  More nervous about how I will like them than anything else, hoping that I don't find out anything horrible and don't have any more reason to second-guess my not-applying to other schools (but I know why!  bad curriculum fit!  don't want to be back in New York!), and I can happily accept an offer and send back the waitlist form I got from the school I didn't get into (which, even if I got in off the waitlist, I'd almost certainly have no funding, so that's not really an option).  Kind of can't believe that I have to get off the plane and go straight to the information session, tour, appointments, class observation, etc., but all that means is I can pretend to be a business traveler for two days with all the rest of the people on my plane.  But I'm going on a fact-finding mission!  Hope I remember my questions.  Hope they are nice.  Hope I'm pleasantly surprised and don't have to mourn too much.  Really, just a lot of hope. 

Coming back late late Thursday night.  Hope the "snow" doesn't cause any problems.  It'll be raining the entire time I'm there.  Haha.
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