End of Hiatus! Penitentiary + Energy Conference + China!

Hello! After practically two weeks of inactivity (would have been 10 days but my computer fan broke and Apple kept my computer for FOUR DAYS) I am BACK!!!!!!!

I’m not really sure how to catch up on everything that’s been happening since I last wrote. It’s week 8 out of 11 or 12 in DC.

I’m going to keep it simple because simple posts are fun, and also I started watching this drama called City Hunter like 15 minutes ago… and it looks REALLY good so far… (yes, I did my running today, I’m making a rule of no dramas before exercise… like right now…)

(If these pictures are all different sizes… blame the uploading and “server maintenance!” You had two weeks to do that, wordpress!)

I’ll start off with some snapshots of what’s been happening.

First off…

I’m going to this place…

For an ‘energy trip’, from August 17 to 27th, with other students from MIT and elsewhere. We’ll visit an offshore wind farm, a coal mine, an electric vehicle charging station, the Terracotta Army (there’s some Chinese culture involved), take classes at Xi’an University…

Expect a CHINA feature on this blog, at that time! We’ll see if there’s time to do daily posts about ENERGY! And FOOD! (And err… the rest of China!) And just a shoutout – if anyone has advice on perfecting Chinese vowels in a month, let me know. Maybe I’ll just karaoke Jay Chou songs and be fine since no one Chinese understands what he says anyway. (Like at MIT! Good times!)

All right, more on that later on, now for other news…

July 4th – went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was a jail meant to ‘reform’ prisoners by keeping them in solo cells… for two years. So they could meditate on their sins. Did it work? Well… (what do you think?)

Here’s a typical cell (inmates stayed in it for 23 hours and got an hour to ‘exercise’ in a field (through the door) the same size about as their cell…:

 

Al Capone was kept here. Look at his cell!

There was also a prisoner that DUG his way out, and several prisoners escaped through the tunnel… (but they were all found pretty soon)

Oh and I learned that what I’m learning at work is RELEVANT in the real world… controllers, anyone? If they can control a bus wash, they can control Death Row too, right? (By the time death row was added, the “penitentiary” had abandoned all pretenses of being one.)

Today, July 13 – Went to the Department of Energy Quadrennial Conference, a series of workshops talking about their energy portfolio!

Most of the morning consisted of ‘we’re trying to make this public and transparent’ and ‘the number one goal here is to fund innovations’ and ‘we need an analysis of where technologies are at or will probably be in 5, 10 years’. There was less of that analysis. But there was a lot of ‘support for innovation!’ As well as talk about the general political barriers/slowness, questions as to how much the DOE can actually do with a shrinking budget, if it’s going to become the next NSF for Energy, etc.

One thing they mentioned was infrastructure – while other countries have ‘made their choice’ as to what infrastructure they want to support (like China, European countries…) we haven’t. Fuel cells, biofuels, electricity… one panelist said ‘we don’t want to pick a winner and have losers’ – which makes sense in an overall portfolio for an immature renewable energy group of technologies, perhaps… but the rest of the panelists said, ‘Hey, we’ve GOT to make some tough decisions here.’ My question is, when will those decisions be made?

Another thing I liked was that panelists said that carbon reduction was a top priority, not just national security or JUST efficiency or lower prices in the short-term or whatnot but CARBON… yes!!!

There are a few videos of the whole conference here!

At work – did a short presentation on my bus wash project, and think it went well!

Running – bought new, lighter shoes, tried to run on the balls of my feet and actually did, for 7 miles on Saturday at 6 on Sunday… (and maybe 4 today… went more ‘natural’ on the last .5 to keep up with my group) But the weekend was awesome because I got to run under this:

That’s my two week update! Now I’m off to figure out how to run Apache, MySQL, and Drupal for REAL, and and and but first watch CITY HUNTER!

Food (aka the Story of a Veggie)

Time for my supremely awesome post of the year. It’s a bit long and the pics are big X_X…

First a vid… make sure you come back from Youtube though =)

Eat It

Disclaimer: To apply to be an MIT admissions blogger, we have to write about something we “find wildly interesting.” I’ve kinda breezed over this novel idea I have, I’ve done a bit with asian dramas and asian videos (XD) in past posts, but now – NOW – I’m going to do something new, something EXTREME.

I’m going to blog about my journey with food.

In the philosophical sense as well as in the, um, tasting sense. Also the health sense. And cooking sense.

If that makes ANY sense.

So let’s start from early times.

Part I – When I was a child, I ate “fun” (“normal”) food =)

In early times when I was still in elementary school, I thought food = food. I was the type of person that liked to try new things, even things like broccoli and spinach on the side. We went to McDonalds and Burger King pretty often, and I would always ask for the “Happy Meal” and get the little toys that would be useless after a few days but which delighted me to no end when they came out of their boxes. I would look at the Burger King “characters” and wonder if their coolness could compete with the coolness of the McDonalds playground. (Well, it was really no contest.)

Then my parents and I tried moussaka (ground beef in potatoes…) and I LOVED it. It was my favorite greek dish ever.

And I had mac and cheese and ice cream and all that and loved both the cool shapes and the chocolately toppings and sprinkles. The people in our soccer league would bring Entemanns donuts to every game for half-time. And I had soda like everyone else as well.

Part II – The beginnings of change

I think I started thinking more about exactly what I was eating when I was 10-12. I also heard that people were going vegetarian to help the animals (the one case for going vegetarian I kind of understood at that age), but I always thought, “Wow, those are OTHER people… I could never do THAT.” From here on I slowly learned more about the environmental side of vegetarianism, but for now I tried to make “healthy food choices” because my whole family has diabetes. I needed to control my weight and diet to avoid that.

I started hearing horrible things about soda (so much sugar! Toxic ingredients! O_O) so I stopped drinking it. I also heard horrible things about beef as a result of a mad cow case, so I “temporarily” stopped eating beef at age 12. I haven’t eaten beef since. It was only after then that I learned that…

– The beef industry uses about 2,500 gallons of water to process 1 pound of beef (approx.; http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_water.htm) – that’s like the most out of any animal we regularly consume!
– Methane emissions from cow burps and farts accounts for ~20% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (again approximate – http://www.grist.org/article/2009-05-21-on-cow-burps-meat-and-methane/)
– Many cows in factory farms are living in HORRIBLE conditions (peta.org)

Besides that I ate in ways that I thought were healthy, making choices like:
– Turkey meatballs with whole wheat pasta
– Low-fat or non-fat frozen yogurt
– Cheerios, Go-lean, Slim, or other dry cereals with fat-free milk for breakfast
– Turkey burgers with sweet potato fries
– “Whole grain” chips and pretzels
– Eventually soy milk instead of milk, and then milk again

Part III – The Change

Then I went to high school. In junior year I took AP Environmental Science. Our teacher (and my environmental club’s advisor) was a vegetarian. He told us about how eating food lower on the food chain meant eating ten times less resources than meat. We learned about global warming – a symptom of the human species exceeding its carrying capacity on the planet earth. And we learned that the average U.S. citizen has the largest carbon (and ecological) footprint. (Btw if you want to know what this is or find yours, search “carbon footprint” on google to find tons of calculators. Here’s one.)

That January (’08) I stopped eating meat. And as of August 18, 2009, I’m still vegetarian!

But it’s not as easy as it looks. (If it ever looked easy. =P) Partly because my track season ended and partly because I didn’t really know what it meant to be a “healthy veggie,” I started gaining a bit of weight. Oh, and partly because I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

Luckily, I lost all that weight on a 21 day outward bound trip (Costa Rica!), but it’s hard to maintain that kind of workout in the city =( So I came back and invested in a few books (disclaimer: I’m not being paid to advertise them or anything… just some resources I found)

“Eat to Live” by Dr. Fuhrman
“Raw Detox Diet” by Natalia Rose
“Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods” by Ani Phyo
and, most recently,
“Joy of Juicing” by Gary Null, Ph.D.

All of these agree that dairy products = bad, cheese = the worst, and greens = miracle food.

Now, here are some bits of similar and yet contradicting advice in these books that advocate “alternate/holistic-type” diets:

– “Eat to Live” – Stick to three meals and no snacks (!) a day, limit carbohydrates (breads, pitas, potatoes, etc.) to one serving a day, soy is a good protein to eat, the goal should be to eat one head of lettuce a day, try to go for six weeks without eating any “bad foods/sweets,” eat nuts but eat in moderation or withhold them if trying to lose weight, overweight =! healthy

(The hummus from here is delicious XD I’ve had plenty of salads but none pretty enough to warrant a picture – just lettuce with almonds =P)

– “Raw Detox Diet” – Legumes (soy, peanuts, to an extent chickpeas and beans) are undesirable, eat nuts in moderation, drink a glass (preferably two) of juiced greens (with lemon and apples for taste) a day, try to “combine” foods right so they “pass through” the intestines fast, against “fake meats” that are overly processed, have dark chocolate for dessert

Thai Peanut sauce and Rainbow Salad

Thai Peanut sauce and Rainbow Salad

Raw susHi

Raw susHi

Thai Coconut Bliss! With shiitake mushrooms!

Thai Coconut Bliss! With shiitake mushrooms!

Rawviolis with homemade "pesto"

– “‘Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen” – Also against legumes, nuts are a base of many of her recipes because they are a “healthy” protein and fat, tries to make “fake meats” with natural ingredients and a blender, uses a dehydrator, sprouts nuts and seeds…
– “Joy of Juicing” – I love how this one doesn’t preach, it just gives you awesome recipes =) Made the brownies three times already!

Date Fudge Browniezzzzz =d (Made three batches of these)

Date Fudge Browniezzzzz =d

Burger on salad!

Burger on salad!

guacamolesalad

If you’re not following some of this (“combine”? “dehydrator”?) it’s OK, because I’m going to tell you what I’ve gotten out of these books:

– A ton of cool recipes 😉
– The idea that eating greens and less processed foods is healthier
– The self-control to eat oatmeal and fruit or just a banana shake in the morning (as opposed to my formerly favorite chocolate chip pancakes – bananas are so much cooler)
– Oh and eating legumes and nuts in moderation too (sometimes I splurge on almonds and hummus though X_X)
– Recognizing signs that I’m not eating well (if you want to know what those are, besides increased acne/weight/sluggishness, um… email me)
– Oh, and it’s still important to EXERCISE!!! (Gotta do that X_____X)
– Make sure to take multis plus B-12!

How can I miss the moussaka when there exist veggie recipes AND, believe it or not, veggie moussaka? (I tried it in Boston XD)

One more note before I end with the treat that I splurge on (not JUST because it’s from the Farmer’s Market):

It has oft been argued that not everyone can eat vegetarian or even healthily (btw most of the nutritionists I’ve been reading from say that the FDA guidelines are not actually “healthy,” they’re guidelines that were set in response to lobbying from the meat and dairy industries) because of where they live, their lifestyle/way of living (ex. fishermen that make their living off of salmon), etc.

Often people argue about whether humans can even BE vegetarian and say we can only be healthy eating meat, etc.

And then the price tag issues come up.

Well, being a vegetarian takes a bit of planning. But it’s all fun! And the point isn’t to be vegetarian right away either. It’s just eating while knowing that you have a choice (well, if you have a choice) about what to eat that can affect the rest of the planet.

And it can be cheaper to eat vegetarian than to eat meat… it’s definitely cheaper in restaurants =) And if you make your own smoothies/juices/foods in general it’s even CHEAPER XD

So that’s PLENTY to chew on, remember that it’s not a religion – even one choice makes a difference. No one says you have to choose one way or the other but yourself. Just remember that the world of food is more complex than you may realize at first bite =)

Further resources:

Books mentioned above =)
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan
“Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook” by Carole Raymond
And search the web! Talk to a nutritionist if you’d like!

Now for…

THE CHOCOLATECHIPVEGANWALNUTCOOKIE

THE CHOCOLATECHIPVEGANWALNUTCOOKIE

Another Day

(Hey all – I have two videos for the price of one! There’s an interesting contrast, considering they’re from the same band… anyway I’ll put the “cheerier” one at the end so this post ends on a lighter note XD)

Work was exceptionally uneventful today. Well, I mean, it was eventful in that we got to make a Power Point about our experiences working with the National Parks Service for future youth summer employees in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) like us, but besides that we did basically nothing. I never thought it would be possible.

But hey, we deserved it, we’ve been working our a—s off =)

Too bad it wasn’t as much exercise as usual! (Rebecca refuses to agree that it IS exercise… I guess that means I’ll really have to shape up at MIT… gotta make up for the time lost while trying to save money and not pay for health club or TKD expenses… X____________X)

Oh and sorry that there is a lack of pictures (currently) – I TRIED uploading a ton from my iPhone with the wordpress app and then they stayed in a permanent “loading” state with the little circle thing going around until five days later when it mysteriously disappeared leaving my blog just as devoid of new pictures as it had been in the first place. If there are any techies among you I would appreciate advice, but stay posted in case I get a breakthrough any case…

Now for how I’m (somehow, suddenly, some way) preparing for MIT.

– Went to Century 21 (it’s a… whatever you call a discount clothing/shoe/everything store) and got one more set of sheets (total = 2), an allergy mattress cover, and an allergy pillow cover. Could get more, but I’m waiting to see what I need. Maybe another pillow would be nice. =) Maybe even a comforter or blanket. Hmm…
(Btw thanks Opey and Marelina for shopping with me! And thanks to Opey for hiding the stuff we were GOING to buy behind random things in the store… just learned a new shopping skill perhaps? XDD No one will be able to buy the last of what I want now! Bwahahaha…

– Found out how to become a Green Ambassador from the MIT homepage (it’s probably going to change since it changes almost daily, but the title of the featured article was “Resolve to Revolve”

– Watched the first two 18.02 lectures by Auroux on Youtube on OpenCourseWare and took notes =) =) =)
I’m actually thinking of 18.022 (partly because Auroux, an amazing math teacher, isn’t teaching 18.02 this year! Waaah…) but I can’t find any of their lectures… it’s good to know the basics though, and it’s cool how he covered dot and cross products in the first two lessons, practically almost the first two seconds =)

– Read some of Paul B. ’11’s posts from the MIT Admissions site. At least one of them was about taking 8.012 (first year advanced physics), and after reading it thoroughly I am just as uncertain as to whether to take it or not. Would 8.012 + 8.022 + terrascope (and 5.111 and HASS) be too much? Perhaps we shall see…

Hmm, MIT bloggers are good… really good…

I shall keep blogging (almost) every day and see what happens! (Applying to be an MIT blogger despite the insane admit rate of 4 freshmen out of who knows how many applicants)

Best of luck to everyone!

Now for the second NEWS video (chosen partly because there’s only a WEEK left until Boston!!!!!!!!! X_X) (Watch in HQ!)

Thinking about Majors!

Well, first off. For all who know DBSK (a korean band – one of my first posts ever was their song Survivor) and records of their disbanding, here’s what seems to be the real story.

Anyway. Before I do my first book review I’m going to talk about more college stuff. Like majors.

When I was first applying to colleges I had one set area of study in mind. I told everyone that I would be doing one of two majors (or both!). But then, just today, I decided to take a thorough look at all of the majors MIT has to offer.

It’s amazing, really. I spent all this time thinking I was mostly a liberal artsy type person and wondering “why would anyone want to be an engineer? What comes to someone’s mind when they think of engineering?”

Now I can understand why so many people at MIT (don’t ask for the numbers, please) choose course 2 (mechanical engineering), course 3 (materials and science engineering), course 6 (electrical engineering and computer science), course 10 (chemical engineering)………

There is SOOOO much going on in these fields! In Mechanical Engineering, if you major in 2-A you can choose a concentration in Energy Systems or Sustainable Development! In Materials and Science Engineering, you could design eco-friendly materials that can be reused in a closed cycle (as in avoiding the landfill) and find ways to properly dispose of the enormous amount of trash that we have now, thus fighting pollution and land degradation caused by the waste we create! In course 6 you learn how to design electronics and computer technology, and that’s one of the fastest growing fields… you could make computer games with awesome graphics where kids get to save the world and learn “eco” lessons in the process… And in course 10 (chemical engineering) there’s nanotechnology AND polymers AND “energy and the environment”…

Then I got to course 12. Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. The study of how our WORLD works. “Areas of interest include the dynamics of systems as diverse as the global climate and weather systems; global plate tectonics and mountain building; the orbital dynamics of planets and their satellites; and the processes of mass extinctions on earth.”

I sighed in relief when I read that. Of course. This is what I want to learn. What could be more interesting than learning how the world we live in works?

So I was originally planning to do course 1E (environmental engineering) or course 12. But now things are complicated. And I haven’t even started college.

Wait, I haven’t finished going over the interesting majors (for a crazy environmentalist like me)…

There are also course 11 (Urban Studies and Planning – practically = public policy), course 9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences – animal behavior = yay!) and course 24 (Linguistics and Philosophy – where does the mind come from? Almost like course 9 in that sense…). And then there are course 5 (Chemistry – similar to ChemE) and course 7 (Biology – or, in my case, ecological stuff…)

ZOMG how the heck can anyone take just one or two of these?????????

Whatever. I’ll have to see what works and what doesn’t. For now, if I break from my planned 1E + 12 combo, it’ll probably be to take 12 + SOME engineering major with a minor in 11 or 24…

In a perfect world where nothing is impossible =)

OK, I will soon have the pics up from my job and such, and I will also post about the NJ-NY MIT Send-off that I went to today! =) I totally should have written about that today, but once a random thought gets stuck in my head it won’t let go… so I had to get this out of the way… Forgive me X__________X

More interesting news to come!!!!!!!

Video (watch in HQ!):

Summer Job

Phew, all of this MIT stuff is really getting me over my head. And I’m finally getting really excited!!! XDDDDDDDDDDDD

So now what should I write about?

Well, after yesterday’s evil brainstorm of a post, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be taking 18.02, 8.01/8.012, 5.111, 12.000, and some HASS. Probably writing. At this point I’m thinking that I won’t do Concourse, but I’ll still go to the open house. Just for fun.

So let me write a bit about what I’ve been up to this summer.

I’m doing this job in “Resource Management” (which = pulling weeds) at Governor’s Island with the National Park Service. My job is actually part of a program called the National Hispanic Environmental Institute. It’s not just for hispanics. 19 of us got to go to an almost free ($15 registration) week of training that involved visiting Gateway, Ellis Island, Jamaica Bay, Fire Island, and Sandy Hook. All in 6 days. We camped out for two days too.

Then the next week we started on our jobs at our different sites. I chose Governor’s Island because I thought that it would be a combo of outdoor work and interpretation. Turns out that it is just outdoor work. I love the exercise and the fact that it’s not boring office work, but it’s not like we’re getting much training or growth experience here. I mean, I’m not learning what it’s like to be a lawyer anything. I guess you could say that by pulling weeds all day long I’m learning how to… get better at pulling weeds all day long.

That’s OK though, I’m making some money =) I wish I could make more through the semester and not just see all of my earnings slowly dissolve over the course of the term… The question is, will there be time?

It would be so cool to be an admissions blogger, but my writing hasn’t reached that level yet. The MIT blogs are so fun! I have no idea why I didn’t spend more time on them when applying to MIT. I’m a fan of Chris/Oasis, Snively, and Yan (food blogs!): mitadmissions.org

Take, for example, this post about snow and physics! Read it to the end, you’ll see… 8)

So I have TONS of pics to upload from these past few weeks, just wait until I find my iphone charger and find a way to get them all on the internet at once!

(And quick update – the new Ouran HS chapter just came out on mangafox.com!!!!!! Thanks Lena!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Video!!!!

And I wonder if anyone noticed the song in the first paragraph… XDDD

This “soulmate characteristics blah blah blah” post thing might never go up…

Don’t worry, it will eventually come up. I’m sure that all of the suspense is worth more than the real thing will be whenever it comes up. I can promise you one thing – it will either come up in the next two days in all of its underwhelming glory or I’ll just stop mentioning it =P

Seriously though, I should not keep leaving this for the last minute because SOMEONE in my house is threatening to come out of her bedroom and drag me off of here for the nth time in a row. So let me get a video in and post ASAP tomorrow afternoon! I swear that I will include a recipe/environmental stuff/the long-awaited aforementioned stuff XDD

Well first off check out this link about how animals are not brainless, and how intelligence doesn’t just run through the human family tree!

And now for a VID! (Got to find more vids guys X_X) For now I’m doing TM Revolution! With SUBS!!! (on the top) Yayyyy XD

Cooking Lentil Burgers and Brownies!

So I’m lazy today and am just going to put up pictures of what I’ve cooked for the past two days with this book called “Joy of Juicing!”

Lentil burgers!

Baked and made with cooked red lentils, lentil sprouts, carrot pulp, curry powder and coriander, pinch of salt, almonds, ground cashews…

And voila!

Burger on salad!

Burger on salad!

Yum!

Yum!

I made this twice, once for my mom and I and then again for my mom, two friends from work and myself again. I think they liked them. =P Looks like I’m making more.

And there’s also homemade lemony tahini there, just used freshly squeezed lemon juice, tahini, garlic, chick peas…

And last but not least – date fudge brownies! Made with maple syrup, dates, spelt flour, egg whites (can’t find vegan eggs X_X), and parsnip pulp! XD

Put this in the oven...

Put this in the oven...

Chow Time!

Chow Time!

Next up – perhaps some pizza, I’m going to try making my own nut “cheese” =)

Btw, totally off the subject, but I thought of a beginning to my novel! Except it’s only a beginning, and everything after it is still scrambled up! But I know what’s going to happen at the beginning!!!!! XDD

Now, time for the last part of FLOW’s three-part series!

I highly recommend that you watch them all together one after the other to see how they kind of fit into each other. I’m also adding the english lyrics below each video (this one has them – they’re not perfect but they work) so you should be able to see them if you go back to them.

Now, without further ado… (I’m having problems embedding the video, so I’ll just post the link)

FLOW – Snowflake