Friday, December 13, 2013

MIT decisions tomorrow

I am freaking out.
My mind is a swirling mess of terror and fear.

I know God has a plan for my life and wherever I end up is the #1 best place for me to be.

Someone tell that to my pale, shaking, hands please.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm not dead

and hopefully will stay that way for a while!

I got interviewed this morning from my school and I'm sending the link to this blog as well. Hi, make me faaamouss please.

This post is going to be really random so I warn you in advance. I miss the old blogging swag days.

1.) Life has been really really crazy. Stuff with boys, stuff with school, stuff with college, stuff with life. I really wanted to do NaNoWriMo again but couldn't :(

2.) I'm down 5/12 college applications submitted! MIT gets back to me in mid-december, only a couple weeks away...excuse me while I go scream and cry into a pillow.

3.) My instructor from E2 made an awesome documentary video about what we did at MIT and I"m in it a lot...I'm the Asian(the one with shorter hair and tanner skin).

4.) AMAZINGNESS HAPPENED in the form of I got to go the the LA red carpet premiere of the favorite movie adaption of my favorite book, Ender's Game! I went with Ender's Ansible and got to interview nearly every single actor except for Asa, Hailee, and Abigail.
Some photos copied over from my post on Ender's Ansible:

See all/most of my photos on the Ender's Ansible website:here:


  caltech 021  
  caltech 041  

   caltech 053
caltech 059
  caltech 063

 I have school today and an interview with Carnegie Mellon University too! Also, I got up at 4AM and couldn't sleep and am really tired. So yay.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The internet is dead...

at my house. Hence, me sitting typing in a Starbucks.  And I just realized I"ve spent the entire day without my glasses or contacts on(and don't have them with me now) Whoo.....

How's life? My current situation is pretty symbolic of my life right now, unfortunately.  After I had probably the most amazing summer of my life, the school year kinda crashed down on me.

So I'm a senior in high school! Only two semesters(really, one) left....I started this blog in 8th grade Surreal, huh? Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time to reflect what on school, college apps, gold award, school....

School has been more challenging and with a larger workload than ever before. It's mostly my fault, what with my ridiculous overachiever schedule. I have five AP classes, and my teachers, though good, are prettyyyy hard graders.

Here are my impressions of each class:
AP Calc-My lowest grade. I screwed up the first big assignment, but got a perfect score on the last quiz and test, so hopefully after the next assignment I'll be back to an A. The teachers are awesome but really harsh graders.

AP Lit-Definitely my hardest lit class so far. The teacher is an INCREDIBLY difficult grader. Usually I can get near perfect scores on my essays without trying, but in this class she really forces us to dig deep looking for insight. Good for learning, but annoying when even my meticulously-edited essays get mediocre scores...

AP Physics-My highest grade. Concepts are all new but a lot of fun to learn!

AP Stats-A joke :3. A joke with way too much tying into the calculator for my taste.

AP Gov-My least favorite class.......... I thought I would find Gov interesting, but NOP. Politics are definitely not my thing.

In addition, I've been taking a Voice and Diction class to fulfill a requirement at the local community college. Which is fun and interesting, but time consuming.

Subject tests....MathIIC and Chem again, in two weeks. I took practice tests today and while my scores improved, they aren't quite there yet.

College apps: pretty good, most of my drafts done, but not near the quality I want yet. Focusing on tests first.

My life has conspired so that I am ALSO going through personal struggles that I was expecting to face but not now. Not when I'm busy with so many other things. It's something that's been affecting me pretty personally and that I don't currently feel comfortable posting specifics. I feel like God has been testing me and I have been failing. There is a relationship which I enjoy but I don't feel is honoring to God and I've been fighting myself and it's really distracting and frustrating. I may be coming to peace/resolution regarding it soon and I have to say that God has been pretty awesome through it all, always being there for me despite my temporarily possibly abandoning him.

Please pray for me! Staying afloat right now, but I guess this is the obligatory senior year crush.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

1 Week later!

Mostly I've been sleeping. The first day back I got 10 hours of sleep and it was maagicaal. I've been going to sleep early and sleeping in every day since then, and taking naps in the middle of the day. I feel like I've been catching up!

Our last day at E2 was the symposium and dance. The symposium was really cool, and seeing all the different projects was awesome! It was really long though (from 9-3) and by then everyone was exhausted, so there were always a ton of people asleep during the presentations(including teachers and TAs).

We got our little diplomas and class pictures(really cool) but were bummed to find out that our meal cards had expired a day early. I had $20 still left on there!

After the symposium we had several hours of free time, which was the first time I had had more than 10 minutes of free time all week. I didn't know what to do with myself! I ended up trying to nap and then giving up and wandering through Simmons with some of my friends. We found a couple cool abandoned lounges and interesting parts of the dorm like a really curvy wall you could run up.

That night we had dinner(really good dinner) and the dance. The dance was awkward because I had no idea how to dance and at first I just stood around awkwardly. But my friends were super understanding and helped me not be awkward and by the end I was having a lot of fun. XD Since it was the last day no one wanted to go to sleep, I just stayed up and hung out on one of the balcony/room/things and talked. We were so, so, so tired. But it was awesome!

E2 was the best experience of my life and I miss everyone there very much!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Days 4 and 5

1:12 AM.

Happy late afternoon(for an MIT student) guys.

So we finished our project and are presenting it tomorrow.  Here's how it went:

Our lab hours to completely build the ROV from scratch were, as usual 1-4:45 and 7-10:30. We have never, ever, ever gotten back before midnight. Except this time, we were being "charged" for every hour we went over planned.  So we were super determined to get it done before then. We organized, planned, and prepared, and at 7 we attacked our pile of materials(which we calculated carefully and "purchased") with great zeal.

And we actually did it too! I wired the control box myself, which was cool since on Monday it was driving me crazy and I didn't know anything about it.

At around 10:30, we were by far first to finish and fluttering around getting ready to present to Ms. Schroyer. The TAs and instructor don't actually instruct us at all except on the tools the first day. They just answer questions and most of the time they let you figure out the answer yourself.

When Ms. Schroyer started criticizing us, my heart started to sink. She(not literally) really started ragging at it XD. "You'd better submit the petition for extra lab time."

I was actually rather infuriated. XD The other groups were hours and hours of work behind us. We had really planned this out and she was being way too critical, I thought. Ms. Schroyer is super chill and sarcastic and funny, but she is EXTREMELY demanding and strict and unmerciful.

With all the changes she requested, we didn't get out until 2AM. That's a 10 and a half hour lab time and a 19 hour day overall. -_______-

Today we had the actual trial with the ping pong balls and rig and stuff. They made it so actual ping pong balls exploded out of the sides of the rig. We got a lot of attention at the pool(indoor, good thing cause it was pouring rain). Despite all the stress and everyone being frustrated, I believe ours was really effective. The visual team never got out at all, they were just overwhelmed with technical/design difficulties.

We have our presentation tomorrow. I can't believe it's the last day.

One thing this program has really done is break a lot of social and mental barriers. There are a lot of negative attitudes about minorities and affirmative action in our community and culture. I read a lot about AA but never understood the spirit of it until I met all this kids and talked to them and heard their stories and depended on them.

Their stories aren't stories designed to make you feel sorry for them. They're stories of victory and triumph. I can't imagine waking up to the obstacles they face and overcoming them with the vivacity they do. They're amazing smart, dedicated, hardworking kids with stories to tell and tough decisions that most people aren't faced with till much later in life. Compared to a lot of kids in my area that just live up to the expectations placed on them by my competitive community, extremely high test scores, SAT prep every summer, math team, music, sports, volunteering, so much of it is just contrived to get them into college, to help them become doctors or lawyers or engineers. Could they have stood up here where we stay up till 3AM figuring out problems and building things, or figuring out metal design problems?  I look up to them in every way. Affirmative Action kids are striving for academic excellence when they're often the only ones for hundreds around to be doing so. They've overcome so many obstacles, but have the intellect to dream and the dedication to make it happen. Wouldn't you rather admit one of them, even with lower scores, than another cookie cutter, bright, talented, middle class kid with higher test scores who could afford the time and money to pay for a class or study books?

I can't believe our last day is already tomorrow. There is a lot I haven't got the chance to write down yet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Things about E2@MIT(Day 3)

First break all day today! Fifteen minutes, let's go.
Awesome things about E2:
The people. They are incredible. Imagine your typical classroom with average kids, lazy kids, and smart kids who usually answer questions and do their homework and try hard and everyone looks up to and depends on. Then imagine all those kids taken out of their high schools and put into this program. That's how I feel when I talk to the other kids. Every kid here is smart. We work in groups. Normally I worry about being put in groups with "dead weights", lazy kids who rely on me to do all the work and just derp around and let other people decide things. There's nobody like that here. There's no bad groups because everybody here is the kind of person who contributes, who innovates, who goes beyond the expected. It's an electrifying environment. Everyone works really hard, carefully notates all the steps, and thinks about what they're doing. Small things. If their work is too messy for their taste, they'll copy it onto a fresh page. When speakers ask for questions at the end, there are always a ton, so many that question time is usually as long as or longer than the actual speech. And they're good questions! I'll have a question but the speaker will call on someone else, and then the other person asks what I was going to ask.

These people know what they're talking about, know what it takes to be successful. I never have to explain something more than once if I'm trying to communicate, and often I don't even have to explain, they just understand!

Everyone is so dedicated and hardworking. The Engineering Design kids had lab until 3AM. Then they had homework until 5. The work here isn't graded or go on your transcript or anything, but they'll work really hard for the sake of it. There's no one dumbing themselves down or trying to seem cool by not caring. It's cool to care.

The conversations are invigorating. We'll have a discussion about a scientific or social topic and elaborate and hypothesize for a while(we are always stopped and made to return to work, but while we walk we talk). Today we talked about submarine warfare inspired by our underwater robotics course and it launched into a broad discussion on technology's effect on war. A guy shared a quote:

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

What a sobering thought. It's true though. The technology that is in war now will cause a large war to destroy everything. Entire cities leveled in seconds, Code Geass style.

We just had a great conversation about technology's effect on humanity, just for fun. It was a great way to stretch our brains.

This morning we saw a lecture about google glasses, a freakily terrifyingly awesome new technology with the screen projected right into your eyes, gesture controlled, and sound directly into your ear bones without a headset.
I was walking with K the friend who accompanied me to Anime Expo and who we hung out with in Boston before the program and referring back to the conversation.

Me: "Countries are making an effort to avoid nuclear war because technology definitely is taking warfare toward a point where you could definitely destroy civilization with a couple shots fired."
K: "But that's what I want though? :3"
Me: "You want to 'destroy the world and create a new one?'" [reference to an anime we both like]
K: "Nope, I"m just fine with destroying the world" XD

Apparently the point of K's engineering fixtation and MIT dreams is to create a bunch of giant mecha robots to destroy humanity. I suggested he find a better topic for his college essays.

We also went to the Cambridge Innovation Center, which was a really cool building incubator for startups with an incredible culture and amazing view of the Charles River. I got to go to the MIT Coop and talk about anime with my friends for 45 minutes, which was super fun.

At the end of the day:
In class we started planning for our final projects. It's 12:43 AM right now. Staying up till 1 or 2 doesn't even feel weird or radical anymore even though it's the latest I've ever gone to sleep. It's just like regular hours. 10:30 PM, my usual bedtime, seems more like "late afternoon". I'm one of the earliest to go to sleep right now.

Part of the reason is that we had a mandatory study break scheduled, half an hour in which we just got to eat barbecue and relax. Although it was fun, it really delayed all our work. XD We needed it though. The Engineering Design class, the one that went till 4AM yesterday, was actually banned from assigning any homework today by the program adminstrators. They've probably had five hours of sleep total this week, so they get to rest today.

I learned something. I LOVE design in engineering. During lectures and meals I like to draw out all the designs and prototypes for EVERYTHING that we're doing and talk and talk and talk about the robots and jump up and down when we got ours working. It is really exciting to discuss all the different ways to accomplish a task and really sparks my creativity.

Our final project is a model cleannup of an ocean oil rig. We will be doing the task in the MIT olympic size pool with the rig represented by a 7 foot PVC pipe with a floating platform and the oil spill represented by black ping pong balls. Our team needs to inspect the pipe with underwater cameras we're wiring onto the robots and clean up all the ping pong balls.

Long story short, I'm the project manager of my three person mini team whose task is to  scoop up the ping pong balls with a big mesh net to be removed. It's very stressful. Build day is tomorrow and we want to finish ON TIME because we are doing real budgeting and we pay $20 per person per hour for any overtime we incur past 11:30. We need to budget for every single screw and pipe. We have a total of $600 to be shared between four teams.

I have three college application samples to read by college counselling class tomorrow, as well as final preparations for build day. I need to write a 2 page letter to the sponsor who's sponsoring me to come to E2 as well as a biography of myself for something. These are all due like now. Not to mention blogging. No wonder there are no E2 bloggers. Nobody has any dang time!

I have the stomach cramps i usually get when I'm stressed. I'm still very energetic, optimistic, and positive mentally, but it's hard to tell that to my stomach. XD

E2@MIT Day 2

I guess the most important thing is that we finished building our robot! It was a lot of work. My group was the first to be done by far! :D We would have been faster if we hadn't blown a fuse XD.

The wiring was the most work. Here are some in progress pics and a demo video I made XD.

A picture of Trang and me in front of the dome! :D
Everyone here is very smart and nice and they really encourage us to get to know everybody. Since we were delayed in building the robot we were a lot behind and had to come into lab from 9-11PM when we weren't originally going to. We had outings today with our cluster(kind of suite mates) and we went to Toscanini's ice cream and to go look at the view from Harvard  Bridge.

A lot of groups went to Harvard and didn't get back till 9:30, including half of the Underwater Robotics class. So this means we didn't actually start class until nearly 10. We got back at midnight but still had homework to do. XD It was easy though, just design for a robot which we will be building to accomplish a task. Most of the other students were still working. The Architecture students were all building really complicated looking structures in the lounge. XD 

I made the decision to stay up later since I still had energy and since we were working straight from 7:40 to midnight, we really couldn't get to have fun and relax a little without staying up late. So when I finished the homework at around 12:30 I decided to hang out and play foosball until the curfew at 1 XD. If I didn't stay up late I wouldn't really get to hang out with all these amazing people and get to know them so I may as well take the opportunity. XD One of them is a really good programmer and was mentally programming writing the commands down in his notebook during lecture. Another is a nationally ranked swimmer who gets up at 5:15 every day to train for the World Junior Swimming Championships.

There are exactly three asians here including me. A LOT of people from California. I think it is the most represented state. There is one girl from Orange County(Santa Ana) so that was pretty cool!

Monday, August 5, 2013

E2@MIT Day One


I got up at 6:45 to go running and had one five minute break in the afternoon and then get to write now but the rest of the time I had literally no time to stop or breath or explore MIT or do ANYTHING.

These are the two dashed emails I wrote to family and friends:
It is 7:03PM :D.

This is the first break i have and I actually have to get going in like one minute they just knocked on my door. I got up at 6:45 to run on the track with a group of friends and have been busy with no time to go back to the dorm at all or stop we went to two talks the first was the graduate school dean she talked alot about her research of designing armor based on scales and stuff in nature. Also google center info session and dean of engineering. Underwater robotics is really really really cool we solder and cut pvc pipe and have a lot of wires and batteries and motors pictures maybe too. We are making a underwater robot controlled with a tether. we were in lab from 1-4 today and have to go back from 7:30 to 10:30 to finish and test the robot so I actually have to go cause it takes 20 minutes to get back over there. Goodt hing is that we don't have paper homework like most of the other classes they have physics problem sets.

My roomate is a Christian and I got to pray with her before we left today so that was cool.

And what I wrote just now:

We were supposed to have our robots finished by 10:30 tonight. We didn't get out until 11:30 and that was because they practically kicked us out so they could go to sleep. No one finished their robot it was so hard :o. A lot of soldering and gluing and screwing and cutting and making a lot of mistakes and getting burnt by soldering irons. XD People from the other classes are still up doing homework and they look like they are about to explode and die. :D We have to get up 20 minutes earlier tomorrow morning. XD i have officially given up on running,

Maybe I'll write more and upload all the pics I took. XD Probably not. I still gotta write the answers to some of the questions in the book. There is a lot of bonding going on in the halls walking around everyone is awesome. Don't get me wrong it's a lot of fun, but more work than anything else. XD

Sunday, August 4, 2013

E2@MIT day one

Super exhausted. XD

Yesterday we went on the Freedom Trail with Kevin and William from E2 and Rebecca from Girl Scouts. I It was awesome, relaxing, fun, saw many historical sights and a lady playing a glass harmonica and a chocolate making demonstration.

E2 is AMAZING already. I met so many people and having a horrible time forgetting faces and names. Simmons is so cool with undulating walls and random colors and a super clean and modern yet earthy aesthetic appeal.

They really really really really emphasize that we're going to be doing a LOT of work. They messed up with my course and sent me the electronics email. I was kinda bummed cause underwater robotics was my first choice. When I got here it turned out that I actually was in underwater robotics and they made a mistake.

Today I got to Simmons and checked all in. The room was nice and I excitedly ran up and down the hallways and met people. Then we had our orientation and an Engineering Design 101 class, then more orientation. Our schedules are packed tight. XD

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harvard and MIT

Just dropping in to say that I am now in the Boston area(deceptively close sounding, it takes over an hour to drive to and from Boston at any hour of the day because of traffic).

I visited Harvard yesterday and MIT today, taking the T. Besides visits, we're basically hanging out, going fishing, playing video games, going on the trampoline, good times, good times.

Harvard: Pretty nice campus, PACKED with tourists, most of the people weren't even Harvard students, spread out and urban and kinda small. Not really my thing and  somehow it didn't feel like "Harvard" to me. XD I imagined it to be more like Cornell, big and looming and silent and impressive. The Harvard Natural History museum was amazing, packed to the gills with all sorts of fish and birds and birds and birds and insects and birds and large mammals and displays and AMAZING rocks and geodes and tons and tons of stuffed birds.

MIT MIT is definitely my top choice and I haven't even done E2 yet!  My favorite thing is definitely the unique culture of discovery and interdisciplinaryness and freedom and creativity. You can definitely load and double load and triple load your schedule with so many activities from clubs to sports to sailing it can become a problem. We heard lots of stories of students inventing cool things, just getting the resources and funding to do things like create a mechanical arm to open your dorm room door or create a batman device to help you scale walls. or start a Chocolate Science lab. The myriad pranks and lore are a lot of fun, you should google them! My second favorite thing was the amazing facilities and pretty cool campus. If you go to MIT you're giving up most of the awesome brick or greco/roman architecture at a lot of top schools and getting a lot of concrete and glass in return, be warned. The Charles River is right there and beautiful. Honestly as soon as I stepped on campus it felt like home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Really loud, busy, and exciting! Crazy drivers and traffic. I couldn't imagine trying to drive in the streets, even riding is scary. XD

The first day we went, we walked around and went to the Museum Of Chinese in America, a must-see for any chinese people in New York City. It reminded me a lot of the tenacity and hardship my Chinese ancestors went through here. Where I live, there are more Asians than anybody else, and there are a lot of stereotypes of Asians being more smart or privileged, so it's hard to believe there was a time when it wasn't normal or cool to be Chinese. I think Chinese have assimilated into American culture to an unusual degree, so it was heartbreaking to read about the backbreaking manual labor in laundries or restaurants just so they could live in a place so they could live in America. It broke my heart to see and hear the primary source recordings and documents of the degrading hardship yet untainted pride of my ancestors. One of the people mentioned was actually my grandmother's great grandfather.

We spent lots of time walking around and went to a Chinese bakery and got awesome pastries. We walked to the Winter Garden and a park over the harbor, as well as the 9/11 memorial. We walked past the New York State supreme court. For dinner we went to a ridiculously overpriced and fancy Japanese fusion restaurant. The dessert($10!!) was really good but really small, it was a tempura mochi with kind of green tea coffee ice cream on it.

In New York there are endless opportunities to people-watch and tons of things to see and buy and hear. There are street performers dancing, singing, drumming, or making bubbles on every street corner. There are also quite a few homeless people and beggars.

Day 2 we tried to go to Governer's Island, but it was closed, so we took the Staten Island ferry both ways instead. The day was really beautiful and sunny and it was great to be on the harbor. We walked to the seaport and past Wall Street and the NYSE building. Outside there were news people filming, which was cool to watch. The seaport itself was okay, there was a trapeze school right outside and really cool tall ships. We took the subway to a little bit of Central Park and got some food from Whole Foods. Everywhere is extremely crowded. Whole Foods was like Anime Expo level crowded except with like food instead of merchandise. Finally, we went to Columbia University, which, despite being in the middle of the city, is incredibly gorgeous. It's like an entire different world once you step inside the gate. I got to meet one of my friends who is starting there this fall, and we walked around the campus(which is beautiful at night) and talked.

In all, although NYC is crowded and noisy and sometimes smelly and always crazy and a lot of walking, it's a good experience. I think I could get used to the city even though I don't think I'd like to live there forever.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

University of Rochester

My parents' alma mater! Really cool as well. We can see the University from our hotel right across the Genesee river.

A lot of things have changed since my parents graduated, but I had a lot of fun walking to my dad's dorm, seeing where my mom and dad met, and visiting where my dad used to do research. We went to get a copy of the alumni book at the world-famous Optics institute and the receptionist just scheduled a meeting with me and a professor and the undergraduate coordinator when she heard I was a rising senior. XD It turns out that the Optics department is very in demand but they can't graduate enough students to keep up with it(there are only 90 undergrads in the department with only 10 or so last graduating class). So they really try to recruit more students.

Optics is a specialized branch of engineering dealing with a broad range of things from light to lenses to lasers. Most colleges don't have an optics major, so I'll definitely consider it if I end up at Rochester.

We also met with the MechE undergrad coordinator who gave us a huuge packet with all kinds of stuff about the MechE curriculum! She and the students I met were really nice.

Our hotel gives us free breakfast and free dinner on tuesdays, wednesdays, and thursdays so we're eating wayy too much XD. we eat second breakfast just like the hobbits!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Cornell is super amazing and GORGES(haha overused puns FTW). I liked the atmosphere and rural-ness of the campus a lot more than I liked Stanford's. The info session was pretty good too! The gorge was beautiful and had picturesque bridges and green trees and waterfalls...

It was overcast today, which was GREAT because it was actually a tolerable temperature, just in time for my first campus tour of this trip. It was really deserted because summer, but I really enjoyed Cornell and it has been bumped up to third on my list.
This is a photo of me taken at the BEAUTIFUL Ulrich Library. Here's another picture:

 I feel like Cornell is one of the less-hyped of the Ivy Leagues, but I think it's amazing. It's the only one I'm applying to(College of Engineering, possible MechE major). They let you shop around for different engineering majors before locking you into one, have a great co-op program where you can work full time for a company, and have lots of money for undergraduate research grants.

Tomorrow is kind of low-key, we're just going to church and hanging around the house. I'll let you know more later!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Canada

but the hotel still didn't have real maple syrup at breakfast D:<. Also, it's over 90 degrees and humid every day. The falls are really nice though! This morning we went and walked a very long time from the falls to the Duffiden Islands Nature Reserve. Lots of bug bites :(. Pretty though! A nice(though hot) walk.

The tourist marketers have got this thing NAILED! :D We decided not to go on the iconic Maid of the Mists Boat despite the loudspeakers claiming it was THE ONLY WAY TO TRULY EXPERIENCE LE FALLS.
The general area is really cool too, with lots of fancy hotels and fountains mixed in with souveneir shops. We're going back to MURICA tomorrow! The only difference I've found was the people with accents and they call the bathhroom "washroom." And the channels on TV are lamer! There was this freaking weird ad for a movie called "Sharknado" playing that was about a tornado carrying flying sharks that attacked a town. The canadian film industry?!? so many places to start I won't even try.

At night it's much cooler and we walked to where they shine colored lights on the falls. Then we walked on the boardwalk where there was a guy playing violin on the sidewalk and the fancy hotels and bars spilling lights onto the streets and a lot of people everywhere having fun. :) I like vacations.

Tomorrow we're driving six or so hours to Binghamton, New York!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In Hotel

Canada is super awesome, but pretty hot and humid. After a red-eye flight, transfer, 3 hour time change, and being crammed into a rental car with the suitcases barely fitting for three hours, we got to Niagara Falls.

After getting settled in, we went on a hike down a steep hill right to the river. We met a girl and her friend from around here, and we learned that she had recently been hitchiking from Columbia back up to Canada with barely any money and relying on the kindness of strangers. She was really enthusiastic and it sounded amazing. I was worried about safety, but she said that nothing had happened to her and the people were so much nicer than they made it sound on the news with dangerous reports about Mexico and everything. She described sleeping in the backs of trucks and in other people's houses, and it seems so much like a rawer experience of a different country than what most people get during their travels. She was fluent in Spanish and extremely enthusiastic about travel. She's backpacked in South America and Europe before as well.

I think I would like to do that someday, the backpacking, if not the hitchhiking. Travelling by oneself without a rigid plan or many comforts sounds like a real way to grab life by the horns.

We got to look around at the falls and tourist area today too! We will explore them more tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In le airport

I'm sitting outside our gate waiting for our 12:59 AM flight to JFK airport and then flight to Buffalo and then drive to Niagara falls. We are going on a three and a half week trip to Niagara Falls, various locations in New York around the east coast, and then my one week course at E2@MIT!

This morning I actually got the email asking us to rank our project courses and preferences--the following are all the course descriptions.

    This course introduces architecture as a way of thinking and making. Students are taught to use a variety of media including pencil and paper drawing, digital modeling, digital collage, full-scale prototyping, and scale physical models. Students work collectively to design, build and speculate on the implications of a construct that will respond to social and environmental forces. This year, the project is a pavilion for cell phone conversations--a place to wander into in a public setting so as to obtain some privacy and isolation from others. Students design a physical building component, construct with the component, and use representation to imagine the design having been built in various configurations in multiple locations throughout the city.


    The one-week investigation into electrical engineering and its applications through the study of core topics and the development of a biomedical-themed final project. Students spend the first three days learning basic concepts in electrical engineering and computer science through a biomedical engineering approach, including circuit theory, amplification, feedback, Python programming and embedded systems. The final two days are spent constructing biomedical/electrical engineering projects in teams.

    Fluid Mechanics 
    Fluid mechanics is used in almost every form of mechanical engineering. Its applications range from submarine acoustics and drag reduction for vehicles to wind turbines and supercomputer cooling systems. In the E2 Fluid Mechanics course, students will spend the first three days learning the basic concepts of fluid mechanics: the study of fluids at rest (fluid statics), the study of fluids in motion (fluid kinematics), and the study of the effects of forces on fluid motion (fluid dynamics). Students will spend the last two days of the course examining the fundamentals of drag. Using analytical tools and experimental observations, they will determine the optimum shape of a body to minimize drag. With certain design constraints, students will work in teams to build submersibles based on their optimized design. On the last day of the course, students will test out their submersibles in the MIT Tow Tank to determine the drag coefficient of their design and how it compares to the designs of their peers.

    Aeronautics-Astronautics *
    Aero-Astro program aims to teach students modern engineering techniques while engaging them in a team-oriented design-building process. The students spend the first day learning the relevant physics and conducting experiments with wind tunnel models and paper airplanes. On the second and third days, the students learn and use genetic optimization, computational tools, and machining equipment to design and build a wing for an RC aircraft and fins for a bottle rocket. The wing must achieve the highest average speed during straight flight and a figure 8 maneuver. The students are tasked with making the rocket fly as high as possible as a result of choosing the appropriate amount of water and ensuring a high level of stability with the rocket fin design. It’s our intent that the students experience both intense levels of “engineering anxiety” and accomplishment when it is time to operate their designs equally.

    Engineering Design *
    This course explores the engineering design process through process of designing, building and testing a high performing loud speaker, students learn both the technical and artistic components required to create a loudspeaker designed for studio, consumer and car audio applications. Upon successful completion of this course, student will have acquired a broad base of theoretical knowledge about the principles of loudspeaker design, loudspeaker testing, basic audio electronics and amplifier design.

    Underwater Robotics *
    The ocean, covering nearly 70 percent of the planet’s surface, is less than 5% explored and presents a great challenge for engineers. Crushing pressure, cold temperature, lack of light, corrosive salt water, and strong currents all make engineering deep in the ocean an complicated an interdisciplinary challenge. This course will teach the basic principles of engineering design for underwater vehicles. In teams, students will use the engineering design process to design, build, and field-test their own underwater vehicles. This course will teach elements of ocean engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Skills learned will include design, simple mechanical construction, soldering, waterproofing, and troubleshooting.
    I ranked them as follows: First choice: Underwater Robotics(really hope I get this, but it's popular so I might end up with a second or third choice :( ), Second: Electronics, then Aero/Astro, Fluid Mechanics, Engineering Design, and Architecture(boo).
    Now I have an hour and a half to kill. I'm on this self imposed schedule where I submit all my college applications by November 1st so I should be working on my essays OR I could finish this season of Code Geass.....tough decision. :( 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Divergent book review-and why it'll never be the next hunger games

Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is near the top of the list when it comes to books hyped as being "the next Hunger Games'. The Hunger Games, in turn, have come to symbolize any sort of dystopian super-hyped blockbuster series of novels/movies.

And I'm okay with that. Despite all my mixed feelings about the series, it's an excellent, well-written, engaging, intelligent series with a not-horrible movie adaptation.

So when I heard this series compared to it, heard a little bit about the content of the books, and saw its epic looking cover, I had high hopes when I picked it off the shelves.

All in all, I think Divergent had the possibility to be at the very least an entertaining action book with a simple but interesting plot and some cool scenes/characters/technology.

What actually happened? Erm...

This premise is pretty much the selling point for the entire series. In a world where society is divided into factions......

This whole dividing people up by character trait(Erudite, Amnity, Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless) is really sketchy in the first place. We had problems with people fighting? Let's divide them up more! The particular traits chosen are also kind of arbitrary and subjective and this whole thing really doesn't make too much sense, especially if we're supposed to believe that one faction (Abnegation) is responsible for the entire government. And everybody else just agreed to this?

The entire novel is packed with people from different factions insulting, fighting, and snipping at each other, so I guess someone can let the guy who came up with this idea know that his idea didn't work all that well.

The second setting is in the camp of the faction BellaTris chooses, Dauntless. Spoiler, I guess. (but is it really a big surprise? I mean you have the boring faction where people dress in gray. The faction where people spend their days insulting each other. The faction where they study all day. The faction that is known for being nice to everybody. Then you have the COOL faction where people spend their days fighting, bungee jumping, and having adventures. Which is the heroine of this soon to be ACTION movie going to choose?)

Most of the problems with this book are summed up in this shaky premise. More on that later.

The main problem with this plot is also in the premise. The main grab factor of Divergent is In the future, people are divided into factions...and? SO WHAT? Factions are not an incredibly amazing invention all in their own. The rest of the story is just Tris going through "brutal" training camp and falling in laave. And there is a bit of plot really really near the end, I guess.

Annoying parts of the plot:
That whole moving train part is really hard to describe as anything but dumb. I mean, you get one chance to jump off a moving train and then you're either dead or poor and despondent FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? It's the Dauntless train, right? Why doesn't it stop at the Dauntless compound?

 A big part of the training they go through is a fear simulator which forces them to go through their worst fears. Which sounds cool and has lots of interesting philosophical interpretations but is in actuality pretty questionable. WHY does Tris need to face her fear of being pecked to death by birds? Are they going to experience this in their work guarding and policing the cities?

So much that happens in the book has me shaking my head, wondering "why?" The training process is cruel and competitive in design, but it's not moving because there is no purpose. So much of it, the unnecessary weeding out, the making the new recruits punch each other until one gets knocked out, is incredibly arbitrary. This makes it much less believable and moving.

The writing:
This was Veronica Roth's first novel. Although she is an inspiration for being such a success with her first breakthrough book, you can tell. You really can.

The novel is one that's designed to be pretty dark, with some scenes that are brutal and gritty in design. But the narration style, which describes a lot of what's happening to Tris but very little of how she feels about it, makes it feel very...detached. You never forget that you're reading a fictional book about fictional characters. There's a famous scene where Tris is getting knives thrown at her and she describes it in the same tone as she described what she had for breakfast that morning. It wasn't disturbing. To write disturbing you have to get the reader into the character before you start messing with the character.

The characters:
This annoyed me even more than the plot. Dauntless's faction motto is courage, but the Dauntless seem to be having a serious misinterpretation of courage that a preschool TV show could correct you on. The Dauntless are not noble Gryffindors, they are at best suicidal adrenaline junkie boneheads that enjoy violence, bullying, and piercing various extremities of their bodies.

Bravery really has nothing to do with the fears themselves, which is why all their Fear Factor training is perpelexing. Courage is all about character building and inner strength to face fears both known and unknown, new, and old. Courage is about being able to face your fears because you love something else more.

The merciless picking on, bullying of, and isolation of the recruits is very counter intuitive of all this.

(The annoying arbitrary cruelty(which I couldn't even feel properly because of the emotionless writing) I really disliked, if you can tell. XD. I can't get over it. I mean, I get that the book is gritty, dark, real, etc. to appeal to today's modern teenager *sarcasm*. BUT GOSH THERE HAS TO BE A GOOD REASON FOR IT CAN IT AT LEAST MOVE THE PLOT ALONG.)

Tris herself is all right. Occasionally too dumb  to live, she is at least distinguishable from the other characters. Her different background was portrayed very nicely. Honestly, I couldn't think of too much to say about her.

Some good characters were Eric and Alec! I really felt like they came alive. Alec's whole plot arc was unique and interesting.

The whole book unfortunately feels very borrowed from The Hunger Games at points. The whole training/fighting thing, not to mention a group of bullying big tough mean recruits who seem verryyy familiar.

The worst, however, was a scene that is almost lifted verbatim from Ender's Game. In one scene, Tris is fighting someone who previously hurt her badly. Tris, who has apparently been training, finally downs her. However, Tris who is apparently having a bad day begins kicking her and beating her after she's down, again and again, until someone drags her away. Very gritty and moving, if THE EXACT SAME SCENE HAD NOT BEEN THE OPENING OF ENDER'S GAME THIRTY YEARS AGO. I mean, the two scenes are unmistakably similar. I started audibly cracking up in the middle cause I just couldn't believe it.

The author has said she's an Ender's Game fan, so I love her automatically. But seriously. The lead Career recruit's name is even Peter for heaven's sake.

The two series are sharing a panel at Comic Con so hopefully someone'll notice.

This is a not very forgiving review and I apologize. The book isn't awful, but I felt there are books that deserve more hype and movie adaptions(cough Artemis Fowl, cough The first three Maximum Ride books). The book kept me entertained and turning pages through a boring Saturday afternoon.

I'm not sure why it's become so popular. Without insulting those who read it, I think it provides good, light, entertainment and thrills if you can look past the blatantly nonsensical premise and drawn out romance(which I haven't mentioned so far in the post because I couldn't think of anything to say about it. I have read very few effective romances in this sort of book and this wasn't one of the better ones).

I think the movie will turn out decently,it should be pretty straightforwardly adapted. The Hunger Games has the drive, intrigue, and soul needed for staying power, and Divergent, so far, does not.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Anime Expo!

So here I am guys! I've made the full journey from being a hater to actually cosplaying at an expo(mah dream for a couple months.

My costume(Ciel Phantomhive from Kuroshitsuji I did get some compliments and waves and some people even asked to take my picture which made me really happy. I got a lot more attention outside of the con hall, like in hotel lobbies and stuff though XD.

So I actually wasn't going to wear the costume until the 4th of July when one of my friends convinced me to. The convention was yesterday, the 6th, so I pretty much had to finish the costume the night before... fun times.
Kyoko from Puella Magi Madoka Magica! I really want to make this one.

On Friday we left at about 3:30 and arrived at the convention center a little before 5. Not too bad at all! There was no line to pick up badges that late, but it was still really crowded! Some convention center shots:

Halo? and mandos 
Prussia from Hetalia 
L, Light, and Matt from Death Note
Ranmao and Ciel from Kuroshitsuji 
England and Fem!America from Hetalia

Ciel and Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji
Beautiful Miku and Luka

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn which was nice. I didn't get to enjoy it much because I was sewing... We frantically sewed and pinned until 11PM.
My hotel table the night before

I got up at 6 on Saturday to get ready, shower, do hair, makeup, wrestle self into costume, and put finishing touches on it. We wanted to leave at 7:30 but left at around 8. This was my first time at AX, so I didn't know everything opens around 10 making my early morning endeavors slightly useless. I did get to walk around, take pictures, etc.
So we hung out in the manga lounge for about half an hour in which I was unable to find a single Kuroshitsuji volume :(. at 9:15, I got in line for the "Vocaloid: Mirai no Neiro: The Sound of the Future" at 10. The line was already doubling back, so I got in line just in time. Eventually we got herded into waiting rooms. I was in the first of three.

I hear nightmare stories about lines at cons. This one was the worst I had all day and it wasn't bad at all! There is so much to see and lots of other people with interesting costumes to talk to and look at, and people played Vocaloid music.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the panel itself. After a bunch of technical difficulties, they played a bunch of new releases for music videos, some of which were cool. I decided to leave a bit early and go find my friend Zelda where she was attending the Anime Expo scavenger hunt. By this time it was about 11:15.
                                                                                           Crowded con floor is crowded
We hadn't been planning to attend Vic Mignogna's panel because we thought we would have to wait a while and didn't want to skip the previous panels to get in line. Since people were lining up anyways we decided to just YOLO it and see if we got in.

We did! We grabbed Adalid who is going to E2@MIT with me this summer on the way in and we hung out for the rest of the day. He was really fun. :)

Vic was hilarious! He told lots of awesome stories and showcased some of his voicing talent. One thing I found interesting was that he talked openly about his faith as a Christian, which was really cool at a very liberal anime convention.
 epic Assasin's Creed group
Afterwards, we went to the exhibit hall, which was HUGE and very very crowded. The worst crowds were here. At one point the crowd was so bad that we couldn't go where we wanted and were literally pushed along. It was in a stretch of less than a minute, but still. I didn't buy anything(everything was overpriced) but there was some really really cool stuff! Zelda bought a very cool steampunky pocketwatch.

Then, Adalid convinced us to go see the live action movie of Rurouni Kenshin: Samurai X. Needless to say it was a very violent and funny movie with a theme of pacifism XD. Seriously, it was strange. All the most violent bits were slow motion. It was supposedly PG13 though...oh well. XD

Takeru Sato was SUPER hot in it though. He perfected his "smoulder" XD.

We went back to the exhibit hall and ended up missing the KPOP dance competition that Zelda wanted to go to. We hung out with Adalid for another hour in line for Johnny Yong Bosch's Eyeshine concert before deciding to go get dinner.
The last event was the Masquerade at 8. Since we had to drive home, we could only see the first ten or so acts but I badly wished to stay longer. The skits and dances were really good although I hadn't seen the animes of most of them was traumatized by a Bad Apple! one. XD

All in all, it was SO MUCH FUN and not nearly as bad as I expected in regards to lines and stress and crowds. I can't wait to go again next year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ender's Game series in quotes:

Ender's Game:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them.... I destroy them.”
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game


Speaker for the Dead:
“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.”
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead 


“From all wise men, O Lord, protect us.”
Orson Scott Card, Xenocide  
Children of the Mind:
“Doesn't it make you wonder about your own sexual identity, not to mention your sanity, that the two women you love are, respectively, a virtual woman existing only in the transient ansible connections between computers and a woman whose soul is in fact that of a man who is the husband of your mother?”
Orson Scott Card, Children of the Mind 



Sunday, June 16, 2013


My piano recital went really well, so thank God for that! :D I wasn't as nervous before I went up.

Road trip today! We're going to visit Berkeley and Stanford. :) Couldn't find Ender's Game audiobook to listen to in the car! All five digital copies in the library were out, can you believe it?

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm a senior!!!!!!!!!!!1

I got my report card for junior year so that official makes me a senior now.

:) I went to a friend's high school graduation yesterday! It was for OCSA(performing arts school) so of course it was epic. The Star Spangled Banner was in four-part harmony and they sang three other songs. It was very beautiful, all the kids were talented, gorgeous, and headed for some great colleges. ;)

Started my internship at the UCI medical center! I'm going to get my badge soon, with my photo on it so it looks all awesome.

Piano recital tomorrow...Piano and I have a not-good history, so I'd appreciate all your prayers! This weekend is busy. Tomorrow we're going to the optometrist(far away optometrist), then piano, then church, then Elephant bar. The next morning, we leave for the Bay Area. We're visiting UC Berkeley on Monday, and Stanford and coming home on Tuesday :O.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Subject tests are over!

I'm glad! Lit was good, Chem was hard...My scores are automatically going to some colleges because I chose to use the free score sends, so I hope I do well...

I finally got elected president of my GS troop yesterday...long overdue methinks. ;P

I'm still really busy now, but I promise a summer post and some more longer, real posts this week!

Friday, May 31, 2013

near, far, wherever you are, i believe that my heart will go on.....

Saw a Hatsune Miku english cover of it today.
SAT Subject tests tomorrow! Pray for me! Studying while listening to Chicago. <3 p="">
Got my SAT score report. I missed 1 math and skipped one and that put me below 750. dangg that's harsh.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm going to try to post more

I really love looking back and seeing what I've posted, but I got sad when I realize I've barely written at all this year. It's that junior year, man...killing ya. So I'm going to write more for posterity. Also, it's this or SAT chemistry practice test, so yeah, this.

Two more exciting things that have happened:

I got a Kindle for my birthday! From my uncle who I wasn't expecting a present from. Yay! :D He also gave me a book: "A Short History of Nearly Everything." I really like my Kindle.

I don't know how I forgot to mention this. A lot of you already know, but our forum The Lakehouse was featured in the latest issue of Star Wars Insider! Star Wars Insider is THE official international Star Wars magazine :DA huge thanks to Ms. Franklin who wrote about us for Bantha Tracks. The article made me realize we have come full circle and makes me tear up whenever I think of it. :)

Long live the legacy! :) Studying more, just trying to hold out until Saturday.