Wonderful Day

Wow. That was quite a Memorial Day. What a wonderful day, one that could really just brighten up the whole week.

Going through every detail is a pointless exercise, serving no great purpose, but I think I’ll try to highlight some of the moments that built this day.

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The term of hypocrisy is tossed around often these days, and likely with good reason. But that begs the question: who exactly is a hypocrite? And how does that apply to us?

The Merriam-Webster definition of hypocrite is in two parts: 1) A person who puts on a  false appearance of virtue or religion and 2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. These days, the more commonly recognized one is the second definition. 

Often, we accuse people of promising one thing and then doing something else, or perhaps claiming one aspect but when pressed, reveals that they actually support the counter-argument. What do we do when we face such issues? How would we be able to differentiate when they lie, and when the truly have honest intentions?

The problem is that at some point in time, we have all been hypocrites. At some point, we have all decided that, perhaps the consequences of such a small white lie would allow for a better result. At some point, we reasoned that it wasn’t the action that determines the morality of the person, but instead, the betterment of the rest of us.

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There is much going on in the field of education, most of which I do not understand. However, one thing that can be quite distinct is the way teachers teach.

Even if we would claim that our system is broken, that the natural causes of learning and becoming interested in the world around us is broken, it is still arguable that there are teachers around us who try to change that. There are still those golden people whom every student wishes to get, who are able to turn learning fun, and make facts stick.

But what happens if even the most devoted of teachers get it wrong?

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Walking home, in the midst of a receding thunderstorm and gloomy skies, I have never felt more alive.

Physics B was Monday, one of the many tests this year. Seattle weather just perfectly complimented it, with booming thunder reminding us of physics mighty power upon the world. Walking out of the three hour examination room was quite a joy, with the world still wet from the unexpected thunderstorm.

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On Being Appreciated

Strangers do not seem to come up to me to thank me about my daily course of action. Even regulars usually don’t notice my general behavior. That makes it so much more meaningful when there is recognition; recognition not for something that you have actively done, but for something that you do everyday with a sense of duty.

In our lives, we (hopefully) do lots of wonderful tasks that bring us closer to recognition. Whether it is saying something witty on Facebook, or holding the door for someone else, it feels good to be recognized by others, to hear a small “thank you” being whispered. But when I catch myself thanking others for these deeds, I wonder: Am I really thanking them for this, or am I just doing the correct social thing to do? And that simple thought has the power to see through the hallowness that we interact with others.

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What next?

Education is in shambles and there is clearly some problem in the system. Even if we don’t agree on the exact root cause of the problem, although the “grouping everyone into one big program” argument sounds pretty sound to me, we do agree that there is a huge problem with what is going on. However, we are students after all. Any real reform that we can do will not be experienced for many years, at least until after we graduate or even when those pesky younger cousins graduate. It is hard to change the direction of such a large program with so much inertia, and while it is possible, it would take lots of time and lots of money.

Still, it is in the face of true difficulties that the beauties of humanity can most aptly be shown. Even if we are not able to change the entire world immediately, there are so many small steps that we can take in order to incite an air of revolution. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so we better make sure that step is towards the right direction.

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Anti Anti-Nuclear

Fear of the unknown is quite a large motivator in our lives. If the fear is derived from an unknown cause, then that cause will likely be abandoned, shut down, and just shunned by all who tout the negative effects even if there is much research to have been done.

It is like our childhood fixation on the horrors of the dark.

Are YOU afraid of the dark today?

As a kid, one does not simply wake up in the night to stare into the blankness of the ceiling above, or just go for a walk as the bright globe of life and light heads into the twilight zone. The dark seemed to be a thing to be feared, and rightfully so! for our imaginations have already revealed to us the monsters, the dangers, and the utmost terror that not only lies within the dark, but *is* a fundamental part of the dark.

A child would not be able to comprehend the peacefulness that is only obtainable through the cover of the night, nor the silent pleasures that arise from quiet meditation. A child would only see the harsh darkness as something that should be fought at all costs, even sacrificing money and time to see it gone. A child, or at least most children, could not lead fully happy lives knowing that darkness, and the scary monsters and sprites that it brought, would be back to haunt them at night.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we are all children, cowering in fear of something just as misunderstood and just as feared for no true reason.

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Rant on Education

Inspired by a late night chat about the failures of education … as I was doing a time-filler exercise from one of my teachers. Oh how we love irony.


I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to go in this post, but I do know that in order to do a full OPVL on anything that I write, you should probably know a little more background about me, my educational experiences, and what has influenced me to be where I am.

As covered in a couple of older posts, I’m pretty engrossed in education these days. It hasn’t always been that way though. Even though I have always been in a family that has heavily focused on the pursuit of education, the schools that I attended didn’t constantly reflect that view point.

Through my elementary and middle school years, I attended the Farragut group of schools, located in a suburb of Knoxville. Within the Appalachia cultural region of America, one of the less prosperous areas of the US, there isn’t really that large of a regard for education. Even though I was exceptionally blessed to be attend one of the wealthier schools, as well as having certain opportunities to challenge myself, there wasn’t the same culture of education that was at Farragut than there may be here, in Bellevue. Primarily, not all the students had their long term goal to go into academia, or needed that level of education.

Cultural shock was a big part of moving to Bellevue, if not in the edge-city feel, then in the radical change in the attitude of the people around me. The air of discovery, masked beneath a faux display of contempt was enough to drive me through 8th grade and into high school, to where I stand today. I would like to believe this fabulous little lie, that because of my origins, I am able to appreciate this education better than others, even though that’s fallen through so many times, evident in my own actions. Still withstanding, however, is my passion to learn.

And from there, why don’t we start on my rant?

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Tea Stained Lives

The first cup of tea is always the hardest.

After setting up the shining kettle and pulling out those small, dry-frozen packets of tea from the freezer, the wait for the boiling pot can only be subsidized through minor distractions of other foods. A watched pot boils alright, albeit slower in my mind’s eye than usual. Listening to the bubbling that is liquid water turning to gaseous water at the very bottom of the kettle, and erupting forwards out through the spout in a hand-burning, high energy containing steam, the process fascinates me even through the wait.

After the water is finally ready, pouring the hot water into the teapot slowly is rather important. You don’t want another boba incident, where my mom spilled half a pot worth of boiling water onto my hand, or that incident where you weren’t paying attention to where you were pouring and nearly end up drowning your precious, precious APUSH notes. No, there is impatience, but it must last through this.

Even after the tea is steeping, you still have to wait more. Drinking it directly is essentially the same as drinking down a big gulp of boiling water artificially colored by a false agent. There’s no point in getting a cup of this putrid liquid; you have to wait for those wonderful deoxidants to be released from those dried leaves.

Still, after all of this, the first cup is still hard to take down. Even as I settle into the routine of life, that cup is still bland and tasteless, and serves more to warm my body than my soul. Not warm, no, but scald my very heart and guts with a kind of fury, embracing a hunger for more.

It’s after this that you slowly fall into a pattern of pouring one drink after another into that nicely decorated Starbucks holiday mug that you TOTALLY jacked from your parents. It’s in that unconcious pour of a cup after yet another that starts creates stains.

My wonderful light-blue mug, decorated lightly with fat white snowflakes and an oversized handle, has gotten a paint job on the inside. Each cup of late night tea, of APUSH focusing tea, of bored and hungry tea, leaves another gentle coat onto the cup.

Eventually, as the evening fades into the twilight, transitioning into the blackness of night, the ritual slows to a stop. No more does the kettle buzz, and no more does the bubble of tea excite anymore. It’s only a matter of finishing whatever is left in that pile of homework; nothing else matters.

And in that narrow minded focus, the tea slowly cools.

Perhaps you could model the cooling rate with a differential function, and integrate to find the temperature after 90 minutes of neglect. Perhaps you could write a chemical reaction for the deposition of the chemicals upon the sides of the cup. Perhaps you could track the specific heat of the water, and what kind of conduction or induction allows the transfer of heat away.
Maybe you could write an analogy for how the tea’s cooling has represented your own mental slowing, as the night drags on. Maybe you would see an analogy in this tea for revolutionary times of virtual representation, of free-trade agreements and of imperialism for resources. Maybe you would look at the Chinese culture behind the imported green tea, or maybe you would ponder what it is about the tea that seems to be so romanticized to you.

But in the end it doesn’t matter. What does is that this tea has stained into your life, your soul, your very being. Cycle after cycle, time after time again, your return to tea has been a return to familiarity, a call back to a home that isn’t a physical place, but a certain state of mind.

And you know that in this state of mind, the tea slowly changes you. In whatever kind of subtle layering, the tea washes over you and rinses anew your soul. Slowly, cup by cup, you see the world through a new lens, and the world sees you differently.

Inspired by Alice.

Listening to Hawthorne Tree Forever (山楂树之恋)