Grading for Winners

September 22, 2012

I have had a few jobs in my life:  Babysitter, tutor, camp counselor, fry cook.  My newest job is along the lines of a couple of those old ones, but from a different side, and I don’t mean food critic or mother.  I have become the Holy Grail of college upper division jobs: a grader.  Yes, I now grade papers for a living, so I have officially become the most disjointed educator ever.  I take roll, I lead a class and write on a board for one of my jobs, and in a totally unrelated job in a different school in a different field, I grade the work of a bunch of students.  It kind of goes towards what I want to end up doing and it’s amazing experience.  Well, not necessarily amazing, but it’s enlightening for sure.  I’ve learned that one of the best forms of entertainment is grading on a Friday night, and here’s why.

How I began my evening was making tea and cracking open some delicious creme filled ginger snaps for a sugar high to keep me motivated.  Even a regular night with these two would be delicious, but I decided the cherry on my sundae of school would be a pile of papers to grade.  I got out my red pen, ready and willing to be used, and turned on Iron Man 2 (to get the right amount of ego in my system) and began.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty about what went down, but I will say I yelled…a lot.  Mostly exclamations of “What?  What the hell?”  and some tossing of paper and cursing and wishing for whiskey.  Thinking of it now, I might have some in the freezer for later…no, bad idea, I’d just become meaner.  The first, I would say, 20 papers I went through, I tried to be nice, but 21 was almost no work and just felt like the person phoned it in.  That’s when my heart began to fall and I ate a cookie.  I went on to the next paper, and it was, if anything, worse.  Even Robert Downey Jr. inventing a new atom couldn’t bring me back from these doldrums.  I finally finished the last paper, and breathed a sigh of relief.  However, did I mention that I was going only one part of one problem at a time?  No?  Well, I am.  As of right now, I’ve finished the first two parts…out of more than I’m willing to say.  I was a distance swimmer in high school, so I’m rather good at pacing myself, which I’m going to do now.  That way, when I come back to this pile of doom tomorrow, it will be with fresh, less agressive eyes.

Sound like a plan, Stan?  Too bad, because I’m going to do it anyway.  Now, where’s that whiskey…?


How to Be a Poor College Student

September 16, 2012

I’m what is lovingly referred to as a fifth year senior, and I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with is that I have little to no money, but that’s what comes with college.  It’s amazing how quiet life is when you can’t afford to go out.  Like tonight, it’s just me, my textbooks and Parks and Rec.  I love Parks and Rec.  I feel for Leslie Knope, she’s kind of my soulmate.

Now here’s what I’m going to get to the point my post:  how to ENJOY being a poor college student.  I know it’s a strange kind of sentence, but it’s a skill that needs to be shared.

1.  Read.

You’re in college.  Studying is like 80% of your job anyway.  But while you can’t afford a lot of things, access to reading material is pretty simple to come by.  First of all, you’re reading right now.  (MIND=BLOWN.)  There’s also this fancy place called the library which has free books, both in paper and digital form.  Often there’s a waiting list for the more popular books through digital library downloads, but there’s always an amazing selection.

2.  Go fly a kite.

Go outside, do recreational things.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a few frisbees stuffed in the bottom of their closet, or like a four square ball or a basketball.  I, myself, have a wonderful kite wedged between my freebie frisbees.  I’ve had a few different awesome beach days with friends, bon fires and my kite.  The hardest thing for me to do is to get out of my house, but having toys makes it better.

3.  Cook.

The best way to stretch a buck is to make a big meal that will go a looooooooong way, and it’s wonderful to have food that tastes good when you’re low on funds.  It’s a weird kind of comfort.  Here’s a suggestion:  Food Network has a ton of food that is like take out, but it ends up being leftovers for a good amount of time.  I also just enjoy cooking in general, and it’s something to do.  Turn on some music, feel like Alton Brown and get ‘er done.

4.  Make something.

Draw, write (like I’m doing…), craft, paint, sculpt.  It’s pretty easy to use stuff that you already have to make something kind of cool.  You can always cut up a t shirt that you have but are not overly fond of and make something out of it.  Paint is cheap, paper can be cheap, glue is cheap, and it feels amazing to make something.  Knitting, while fun and an excellent way to make useful pieces, can be expensive if you’re a fiber snob like me, so enter at your own risk.

5.  Be friendly.

All the above are made infinitely better with the help of friends.  Misery loves company is an awful phrase, and I prefer to think of it in a more positive light, like I have amazing people in my life and I want to have fun and I have fun with them.

Well, there it is.  This is how I enjoy myself as a poor, sad college student.  Yes, they are all straightforward and pretty cliche, but they work.  Look at me, I am a fair happy and up beat person, even though I’m studying physics, which is another way of saying I have a high potential of being an alcoholic. AS IS LIFE.

Gardening for Physicists! Part 1

June 13, 2011

Just recently, I moved.  I know, it’s a thing that most adults do once they reach a certain age.  What’s interesting about this move was I moved from a decent sized apartment near my school to a house near the beach.  I never thought in my life that I actually would live on the beach.  I mean, on the beach if I became homeless, but I can see the beach from my window right now.  And even though it’s San Francisco, the sun is shining.
That brilliant shining sun makes me think of something:  I want a garden.  I have my own front yard, so I want to do something with it.  Now, as previously stated, I live in San Francisco by the beach, so the soil in the front yard is fairly sandy.  I called my grandfather for assistance, because he’s a former farm boy from Minnesota, and he really did help a ton.  He mentioned I should grow peas or lettuce or swiss chard, because those tend to thrive better in the cold, and it rarely gets above the 70’s this close to the water.  I have a couple options for growing these plants.  I can either plant them in the ground in this 10×10 plot in front of the house, or plant them in pots.  There’s pluses and minuses to both situations.  In the ground would be, superficially, cheaper than going out and buying the pots on top of the plants and seeds and stuff.   Unfortunately, the house has quite the snail problem.  I thought that the feral cats would help clear that up for some reason, but no.  Grandpa Ole said to use pesticides, but I had hoped to grow the vegetables as chemical free as possible.  (The scientist inside me laughs at that statement.  All things in life are due to chemical reactions.  Chemicals are not just those powders that we buy in the stores to kill pests, they’re in the soil, in the air and part of the water.  Everything has chemical reactions, so growing chemical free is impossible.  Sorry, science joke for me.)  That’s where the pots come in, but I don’t know how well they’d prevent the snails from feasting upon the fresh fruits of my labor.


My current plan is to do what I do best: read.  I found a couple different articles in Sunset magazine online and there’s also Make magazine, and I live near enough to a library to bike down sometime.  I know what you’re thinking, I’ve gone native.  And the answer to that question is no.  The actual reason is the whole guiding factor behind this whole endeavour, besides the thrill of making something useful and beautiful.  I also want to have the pride of knowing that I grew something.  Period.  I’m not widely known for my green thumb, although I did have one hell of an herb garden growing up.

Basically, it all comes down to the fact that I’m cheap as hell.


Well, I’ll keep you posted!

Quick Rant 1: Lizards

November 19, 2010

I know this is random and ridiculous, but it kind of ticked me off. I was watching something on TV and this little girl said to her mother “I want the backpack with the lizard.”  Her mother said, “You can’t have that, you’re a girl.”  I know I’m probably taking this out of context and being overly sensitive, but since when are girls not allowed to like lizards.  I love lizards!  And physics!  I’m going to add another feminst post later today, I just wanted to do a quicky.

Possibly the Weirdest Thing to Inherit Ever

September 11, 2010

For how traditional my family is, we’re pretty strange.  And by traditional, I mean we have a lot of traditions.  Which are weird.  For example, we have three Christmas celebrations.  My father is of Austrian, so we celebrate St. Nicholas Day.  In Austria when my great-great-grandparents, Christmas has more emphasis on the part of the word that says MASS, so people wouldn’t open presents on the actual day because they’d be in church all day.  Therefore, my family would do the whole shoe thing every year, and we still do.  The other extra celebration was based on my mother’s Scandinavian heritage.  Santa Lucia day is when the eldest daughter in the family feeds the rest of the family breakfast in bed.  As a youngest child, I didn’t really have any qualms with this.  Another thing we do around Christmas time that’s kind of morbid is we visit the family plot in Oakland to see the graves of my grandfather and brother.  On the way, we stop by Fenton’s, which if doesn’t sound familiar, watch Up.  Now.

That’s only a set of seasonal traditions.  We also have the need for green Jell-O at all “high holy days” and the Chicken Dance at weddings and, the ultimate, LEMON BASEBALL.  I think this one might of started when my mother got her MBA and we had a wicked back-log of lemons from the tree, so we took them down to the local open field and knocked the living tar out of them with baseball bats.  The best part, besides creating a citrus explosion, is everyone who participates comes home smelling lemony fresh.  We do this mostly at large family gatherings, like my sister’s wedding or my brother’s memorial service.  I think of it as a way to make a situation that could be really depressing into a moment of exhilaration and celebration.  We are not celebrating the fact that someone’s dead, but that they lived and affected our lives. At that point, I take a break in mourning and laugh and be joyful that I knew them and that I have to opportunity to continue their legacy.  Believe me, in relation to my brother, my hypothetical kids are going to know who Uncle Willy was.

Which brings me to this weekend.  I just lost my grandmother, and this weekend is the funeral.  My entire family is in town and going through old photos and sorting through my grandmother’s mementos.  If something jumps out to us, it’s ours.  It’s not sacrilegious.  We don’t chose these things because we think it’s worth something, but because it means something to us.  Or because, in my case, I want to keep a certain odd tradition going.

I think my parents were eco-friendly before it was cool.  My mother’s and father’s wedding rings are totally on the current trend of recycled gold in jewelery.  My mother’s ring is made of my both my grandfathers’ dental gold (their fillings), my dad’s old wedding ring and one he found in the Russian River.  Dad’s was just dental gold.  The diamond in Mom’s engagement ring was from my grandmother’s original wedding set.  There was very little eco-impact due to my parents’ wedding rings, and I think it’s a pretty cool idea.  Something close to each of their fathers is in their rings, namely from inside their mouths.  They also brought in objects from places that were important to them, and took an old bond and made it new.

Anyway, we were going through Grandma’s old safe that has her gold bouillon and silver bars, which I lusted over in the hopes that they could pay for part of my Master’s, if that should come up.  The girls were all picking out jewelery, and I found some nice rings and a pocket watch, and then we found it.  It was my grandfather’s bridge and dental fillings and some of his teeth with more fillings.  Well, guess who’s one of the only unmarried girls in the family?  Yeah, it’s me so I got my grandfather’s teeth.  I inherited a dental bridge and I had to hold it in my hand for a minute and I have never been more squicked in my life.  And this is coming from a girl who religiously wears her retainer every night, just for that continually nerdy feeling I get from having metal in my mouth.  Oh, and I want perfect teeth, but that’s just a happy side effect.

I’m glad to keep the tradition going, even if I had to hold my grandfather’s teeth.  Honestly, though, he passed away when I was three years old, so I didn’t get to know him too well.  Even if I look a lot like him and have his smile and apparently act a bit like him, I don’t feel close to him.  I guess if I had something of his close to me at all times, I’d feel like I had a part of him with me, even if it’s his teeth.  Ew.


That was  fairly discombobulated post, but was fun to right.  Off I go now to eat donuts!  HOTCHAHA!

Here we go again

August 18, 2010

Whelp, summer is more or less over for me.  I’ve packed up my most prized possessions (including a few new ones, including a fish named Ulysses S. Grant) and hauled myself, with ample help from my family, to San Francisco.  New apartment, new roommates, new fish but lots of old and dear friends to see, so lots to do.  Some of my new roommates are those dear old friends.  I did make a few new friends though.  The mosquitoes.  I currently have a constellation on my arm, my foot, my hand and, happily, my face.  It’s a rather humbling experience, but I won’t let it ruin my happiness.

I’ve picked up a few new habits as well, like running.  I’ve never been much of a runner, unless it was for my life or at work.  You’d be surprised how often I find myself running in the capacity of kid wrangling.  Okay, maybe you do, but that’s not the point.  So yeah, I am now a running, which I feel like negates or contests my swimmer status from high school.  Maybe a better phrase would be frequent jogger.  Or a moderate speed speed-walker.  What I mean to say is, I’m not fast.  I have endurance, but speed will hopefully come later.

I think one of the most defining aspects of San Francisco is the fog.  We live in a cloud at all times, separating us from the outside world and making the myth of vampires applicable with our pasty, pasty skin.  Even Buffy would be confused here.  Anyway, yesterday was an anomaly.   There was sun, sapphire blue skies and a tingly kind of warmth in the air.  To commemorate this event, my roommate and I went to the beach, without getting in the water of course.  Those Alaskan currents aren’t worth the hypothermia it would induce if I had jumped in.  We lay on the beach chatting and reading and studying and preparing for my animation course.


Wait a minute…did she say…animation?


I am finally FINALLY beginning some animation courses.  Therefore, I can proudly wear the name artistic scientist.  While I began this quest possibly on the day of my birth, I feel like I’m so close to actual making some headway.  I have a portfolio review to do on Monday, so wish me luck.

I wish I could have written some prolific prose or made a more concrete essay out of this, but it’s really just an update on my life.  Believe, the next one will be insightful and all that jazz.

Just kidding!

Herding Cats

July 17, 2010

I feel bad for letting this blog slip for a while.  Here’s my apology.

And now we’re done with that.  Basically, I’ve been working full-time for the summer as an assistant instructor at a camp for preteens and I must admit, although I’ve done this before, it remains a challenge and time consuming.  Along with the fun of finals, I’ve completely let a ton of stuff fall by the wayside.  I was supposed to be penpals with someone and I’m ashamed to say that we’ve kind of missed a few weeks.  The best part of all this is my legs have that lovely tingly sensation of being on my feet for days on end.  And it’s my day off, so that’s great.

That’s not to say I don’t love working with kids, I really do.  They just have this amazing ability of not listening.  I can stand next to a kid and say their name over and over and over and over and they’ll eventually look at me and say something like “I didn’t hear you.”  I have choir voice training.  Meaning, I’m very, very, very loud.  I have the ability to yell over traffic without damaging my throat…at all.  While I’m not shouting at the kid, I tend to have a fairly strident tone, which I’ve learned from other authority figures and it’s hard to ignore.  The best part is that they’ll scream in my ear, so now I kind of lost hearing in my left ear for a little bit.  It’s also related to the slight congestion I caught when a kid sneezed and coughed in my face.

However, kids are hilarious!  They say the most honest and pure things, and it’s hard not to burst out laughing.  These kids are also brilliant.  I’ve had wonderful discussion of basic physics concepts with them and they’ve asked me questions.  I think truly genius people become that way by asking well thought out questions and then listening to the answer, so these kids are halfway there.  There have been some kids that I’ve wanted to take home with me, and some that I feel I’ve really connected with, and that makes it worth it.  I’m proud that I’m helping foster future nerds, and showing kids that being a nerd is cool.  I mean, I wear glasses and have a tattoo of a Greek symbol found in most equations for Pete’s sake, and these kids think I’m cool.

Well, there’s no accounting for taste.

Anyway, I’m just glad that this program is around to foster a love for science and creativity and give kids like me a place to be and people to look up to.  Whoot.

Anywho, on an equally nerdy note, 5 days until I go to San Diego and 6 days until Comic Con.  WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOT.

Going Backwards to Go Forwards

March 28, 2010

Just to be explicit, I’m not a big fan in general of the beast known as reality television.  I find most of it pretty crass and not that realistic or enjoyable.  Also, the people who often end up on these shows are just seeking attention in any way, shape or form.

However, one show has gotten my attention and admiration, and that is Who Do You Think You Are? I’ve seen only two episodes, the first one with Sarah Jessica Parker and the most recent one with Matthew Broderick, and I have never seen more lovable, enthusiastic information seekers.  I was a fan of both of them before, but now I think they are truly adorable and I respect what they’ve done to find out more about their families.  I got to watch Matthew Broderick explore his military past, which included soldiers from both World Wars and the Civil War.  His look of awe and amazement as he delved into his past really inspired me and was so endearing.  Sarah Jessica Parker was just as cute and as energetic about the experience, and came up with her own awesome discoveries.  Her ancestor was on trial as a witch in Salem and another was part of the Gold Rush in 1850.

Both episodes were fairly entertaining, but I think the most important part is that they’re informative and inspirational.  I think knowing where you come from and family history is extremely important for all people.  First of all, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, so yeah, kind of important if we don’t want another world war or bloody revolution.  But that’s just me, I could be wrong.  Also, family histories often have some of the best stories and help connect groups of people and keep them together.  I know in my case, I love nothing more than hearing my grandmother talk about my crazy family history.  Let me tell you, my ancestors were crazy and definitely help explain who I am and why I’m this way.  I was very lucky for the fact that my father and uncle are very much into genealogy, so I already have a pretty good idea of who my family is, but there are still things I’d love to learn about them.  It also helps that we have a copy of the family history in our house as well as my great-great-grandfather’s Civil War scrapbook.  Seriously, CIVIL WAR SCRAPBOOK.  He was the last surviving Confederate in Santa Cruz, which is pretty cool.

So yeah, this show is an extended ad for, but it has a lot of positive aspects and I’m actually really enjoying it, and that’s saying a lot.  Most shows this year on TV are crap, plain and simple.  But yeah, watch it.  Pretty good.

A lot of stupid people

March 4, 2010

Disclaimer:  This is my opinion about goings on right now.  I do consider myself very liberal, but I also don’t tolerate stupidity in any form.

Right now, I’m a college student in California.  Namely, the Bay Area.  This means two things: 1.  We don’t get sunshine more than 5 times an entire semester, even if it is California and 2.  We have no money, and we’re gradually losing more and more classes and staff and facilities and funding.

Because of this fact, there’s a state-wide strike going on today for students and I think faculty.  I don’t know much about it because I’ve decided not to take part in the festivities for a few reasons.  Mostly, I came to college to educate myself about science and how to be a better artist.  Science can be a highly political subject, but for the most part it’s just geeks sitting in labs studying and reading and calculating, all things I like to do.  Art is extremely political, but on my side, I’d rather observe human interaction and record that, so the protest doesn’t even appeal to that side of me.
I also don’t agree with the tactics.  Last night, I got off work at 8 PM, went back to my dorm, and within a half hour of walking in the door and finishing my dinner, I heard quite a hoopla.  The protest, which was supposed to begin this morning at 7 AM, had kicked off at 9 PM last night.  Now, it wasn’t people with signs marching and speechifying, it was ridiculous party girls and hipster boys with a sound system blasting music and having a dance party on campus.  What are they protesting, that school isn’t fun enough?  It’s SCHOOL, it’s not supposed to be a party all the time and it’s supposed to contain some hard work.  And they ended up disrupting the people who have classes in the morning and live on campus, therefore royally pissing off people who could have been their strongest allies.  Basically, good students.

As I good student, I think I was hit by the budget cuts worst.  I want to graduate, and I put all my energy into school (if you can’t tell) and if I can’t get my classes, I can’t graduate or move forward with my degree.  Luckily, I’ve been smart about it and prioritized which classes are necessary and which are chaff, but other than that school is more difficult than it used to be.  We also have these wonderful things called FURLOUGH DAYS which are basically days where the entire campus is shut down because it was either do that, or cut more classes.  While this is a lesser of two evils, it means we have the same amount of material crammed into a shorter time, especially in the spring semester.

Back to what they did last night:  They antagonized the university police, who were only doing their job, and disrupted the sleeping patterns of their fellow students, in some cases there was vandalism and they blocked off some roads ar0und the school.  I do think that blocking off the roads, as long as it was done safely, was a good idea, but these students turned it into a street party instead of a protest.  What a bunch of frivolous shallow idiots!  Fight for your education!  Do take some control over the school, but don’t fight the people who just want to go to class and learn something.  Orchestrate teach-ins or something.  School is about education, and I do think the system is flawed, and I do think these students were an excellent example of what comes out of a flawed education system:  Idiots.  If that was their goal, to look ridiculous, they did a great job. However, if their goal was to show to the administration that they were upset, they didn’t quite reach that goal.

The next part of the strike is going to commence at 5 PM towards City Hall, in conjunction with a few other schools in the area.  So, even though I had planned for a night out downtown, I’m going to stay as far away from there as possible and stay in and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I don’t feel safe in that crowd, so I’m going to do my best to stay as far away from it as humanly possible.

I’ll keep you guys posted on the newest…news throughout the day.  Here’s hoping I can actually get to class.

I’ll add pictures once I get some of the protest.

Grade grubbing and my anxieties…

February 27, 2010

Yes, I’m a grade grubber.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m your typical type A, straight A, AP student with achievement on the brain.  So when I get something less than perfection, I kind of lose it, like yesterday. I didn’t do well on a calculus 3 test, so I got really upset and called my father and my sister.  I wanted to kind of just give up on school.  In my little messed up brain, I thought that what’s the point of going to college if I can’t be the best and excel at everything?  Basically, I’m crazy, neurotic and an Asian child in a white girl’s body.

What people like me need to learn is the point of school is learning, not grades.  I have found that I learn best by making mistakes.  If I mess up on something, I never forget what I did wrong, and basically, I never make the same mistake twice.  I think I learned that from my dad.  When I was little, I learned how to roller blade, and I would fall all the time.  I’d have bruises and cuts, but I didn’t really cry when I fell.  My dad said that by falling, I was learning.  And it was true.  Next time I went out on my skates, I wouldn’t fall the same way ever again.  I’d figure out a new way to fall, and by doing so, I’d improve.  Now that I know what I did wrong on that test, I know what I need to learn better.  I’m still disappointed in myself, and so I spent about 6 hours yesterday studying and doing homework but the good news about that is, I feel like I have a better grasp on the material that is being presented to us.

I guess the point of all this is the fact that instead of sulking and feeling defeated by one bad grade, I’m going to come out swinging and do better on the next test and work even harder.  I have gotten in the habit of not working as hard as I used to in college, because I didn’t need to.  But now, I’m ready to get back on the horse, and it actually felt really good to study that hard.

I’m insane.

AND NOW picture time.