Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain



It is almost 2:00am, I am sitting in the second library of the night (the first one closed, technically this one is closed too, but there are loopholes…), and I’m working diligently (well, minus this break to write this post) on a 15 page paper due tomorrow. Due today. Due in ten hours.

Technically, its just a rough draft. So it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, it doesn’t need to be fully formed, it doesn’t even need to be a full 15 pages.

Thus far, I’ve written two of my three case studies, and haven’t even started my introduction or conclusion. I’ll probably leave my conclusion for the final draft, but if I don’t write an introduction, then I’ll need to write a literature review for the rough draft.

So I’ve basically got half the paper I intend to turn in tomorrow written. (Since yesterday, I might add.)

I’ve written 15 pages.

Technically, I’m done. Technically, I should be cutting what I’ve written thus far down, to make space for the aforementioned and as-yet unwritten intro/conclusion. Technically, my professor said 15 pages minimum.

When I was in middle school, we didn’t get normal grades. Instead of an A,B,C,D,F scale, we had AS, MS, BS: Above Standards, Meeting Standards, and Below Standards. Now, the teachers may or may not have explicitly mentioned this, but the standards were individual standards. Different students were held to different standards in different subjects; if you were strong in one subject but struggled in another, the school wanted to reward effort, not just knowledge.

It seems a bit intense, and certainly took a bit to get used to, but it truly was (and is) a great system. As a student, you learn to push yourself. You learn what truly great work looks like for you. You learn to have high expectations for yourself. You learn to meet, and even exceed them. After all, what is “Above Standards” other than doing better than anyone thought you could do?

15 pages. I’m not that proud of them. I can tell I wrote them in a day. I know that my writing is more cohesive than many of my classmates, that my thoughts are more nuanced, that my citations more thorough. But I’m not impressed. And, most importantly, I know that my professor has standards. Like anyone.

Teachers theoretically grade us all to the same standard, but we all know that isn’t *actually* true. Students joke that being a teacher’s pet makes life easier – he already likes you, so you don’t have to try as hard and he’ll likely grade you highly. But sometimes, a professor has a sliding scale of standards. Sometimes, she sees what you’re capable of, and pushes you to reach that edge. Combine that with the internalized desire to be better than I can be, (yes I realize the impossibility inherent in that statement) and all of a sudden it is 2:03 in the morning and you’re halfway through a rough draft of a paper that has already met the length expectation. Ooops.

See you tomorrow. Or is it today?


Puppies and Winter

It is currently January, and I am sitting on a big comfy chair in front of the window with a cup of tea and some music and I’m watching the snow fall and the puppies play in the park across the street where we just built this snowman:

DSC_0123(*Side note, as I sit here and watch people take photos with this little guy, I can’t help but revel in the happiness that snowmen spread. It makes me smile!*)

And even though I should probably be doing my homework, I’m loving winter, which is my favorite season (until the snow melts and the flowers bloom, then I’ll be head over heels in love with spring). So I thought I’d share some photos that I’ve collected over the past month or so.

First up: (surrogate) family photos from the snowman-making process. We kinda like each other.

We also love puppies, and thoroughly enjoyed playing with these beautiful dogs, Milo and Galaxy, who live just down the street. (Galaxy, with the gorgeous blue eyes, is both deaf and mostly blind.)

In case you weren’t sure that both Boston and Lake Tahoe are beautiful places to live, here is the Charles River, mostly frozen, and Lake Tahoe, mostly gorgeous.

Last month, after Christmas but before it actually decided to snow in Tahoe, Robby and I went for a walk around the lake and ran into these beautiful puppies

Also, can we talk about the fact that my baby brother isn’t such a baby anymore? It is very clear that he is past little boy stage too, and living on the cusp of manhood.



I’m Published!

The summer has come to an end, which means that my internship at Forum is over and I have moved on to what is shaping up to be a crazy fun, crazy busy, and crazy difficult senior year. But, over the course of the summer, I was working on something at Forum that I haven’t written about here. Namely, I was writing!

In addition to my internship duties at Forum, helping with researching shows and finding guests and everything else, I’ve been working to write blog posts for other parts of KQED based on Forum shows. In essence, the station tries to connect online, TV, and radio coverage as much as possible by cross-referencing. Things that get put on air are often written about online, and the articles include the audio clips. Forum has a social media specialist who usually writes posts like these, but she was on leave this summer. I like writing, so I tried to write some posts along those lines. I wrote and had four posts published for both the State of Health blog and the Science blog:

Using Disney Movies to Reach a Son with Autism: This was the first post I wrote and, interestingly, the last one that actually went online. From the beginning, I helped with this guest for Forum, reading most of Suskind’s book before he joined us on air (book review here), and even having a really interesting conversation with him about Sleeping Beauty after the show. This post was fun to write, and was based a little bit on the Forum hour and a little bit on the book itself; it was the only of the four posts I wrote that dealt with our second hour, and the hardest to write but a lot of fun.

5 Things You Should Know About Sun Protection: The second post I wrote and the first one online, this was a lot of fun but also a bit challenging. I listened to the full hour twice over, collected all the experts’ tips, and then distilled them down into a single post of five tips. I got a lot of suggestions from the State of Health editor on how to make it a better post, which turned out well for my next two posts also.

Sleep Apps, Myths, and More: Strategies for a Good Night’s Rest: I wrote this post on my very last day at Forum – the hour was Tuesday morning, I wrote the post Tuesday afternoon, and the post was published later in the week. It was nice to get a rapid turnaround for the site, and to show myself and the KQED editors that I was able to get it done. Also, this post was published on the State of Health site, but also linked to and visible on the Science page, which I found exciting.

Gardening in the Drought: What Makes a Plant ‘Drought-Tolerant’: My only post for the Science page exclusively, this one was the only post for which I did serious research in addition to listening to Forum. Instead of basing it exclusively on the hour, I used our drought-friendly gardening hour as a peg for a post that answers a question I’d been asking myself – why are some plants called ‘drought-tolerant’? I did the research and wrote the post from both my research and our guests’ quotes, which was an interesting challenge that I think I was able to complete.

As someone who isn’t a journalism major, I came into my internship feeling a little bit out of place. But the conversation we had at the beginning of the summer, in which we were encouraged to write for the KQED blogs, I felt a little more in my element. After all, I write a blog on the regular, so to speak. Once I got started, I actually enjoyed the process much more than I expected. I received a lot of valuable editorial suggestions, and was able to publish four posts on the website of the largest public radio station in the nation, and one of the biggest news sources in the greater Bay Area. I got compliments from the editors, who said they were impressed with my writing and my ability to take corrections/make edits. Most importantly, I discovered that I really enjoyed the process. Even though three of my four posts were primarily health-based, they all have at least a bit of a science spin to them. I don’t know if science journalism is something I want to actively pursue, but it would certainly be some good fun, and it is (yet another) idea to keep in mind.

One Door Closes, Another Opens

This post marks the end of an era. Technically, the end of a summer. An amazing, fabulous summer filled with friends and fun and camping and the most amazing internship I ever could have asked for.

When I decided to apply for and eventually accept the internship at Forum this summer, I didn’t expect it to be what it was. I expected to go in, sit down, get some work done, go home. I expected to love it at the start of the summer, and merely like it (if even that) by the end. I expected it to be just another job that I worked on for a few months. I expected to learn a lot and meet a lot of cool people and work with a lot of radio personalities and have a good time.

But Forum was a lot more that that. I met so many amazing people at KQED who go above and beyond every single day in trying to get the most and the most interesting news to the public. They inspired me with their commitment and their critiques and their professionalism and their passion. I got to see people in a hundred different professions come through, got to talk to them and ask them questions about their jobs. (Too bad I haven’t found my perfect profession yet!) I worked on every single part of the live show process – the research, the calling, the pre-interviewing, the meeting & greeting, the screening, the reading, and the thanking. All that’s left is the actual hosting! I actually looked forward to Mondays. (I was going to continue with the amazing-ness of my summer internship, but I think that pretty much sums it up.)

So one door is closing. I said goodbye to my internship for the last time yesterday. But another one is opening. I’m leaving tonight to start my senior year. I’m super excited for all my classes, and I’m excited to be living off-campus with my three best friends.

I sent a box yesterday that weighed 22 pounds and was full of books. (Don’t worry, I sent it Media Mail, and it cost < $15.) But if you looked in that box, or you looked at my Amazon orders list, or you looked at my class schedule, you might be a bit confused. Because … well …

  1. Particle and Nuclear Physics
  2. International Relations Seminar – US Foreign Policy in East Asia
  3. Advanced Japanese
  4. Physical Chemistry
  5. Literature of Haruki Murakami
  6. African Dance

I expect this semester to be a bit difficult, to say the least. I expect Japanese and Physics to have the hardest classes and tests, Lit and East Asia to have a lot of reading and essays. I’m hoping Chemistry is easy, but we shall see. And yes, they’re all part of my majors/minor. (Except Dance. That’s just fun.)

Breaking News Room

Last Monday, exactly 7 days ago now, Robin Williams committed suicide. Last Monday, like every Monday this summer, I was at work from 8am-4pm. The news about Williams was announced a bit after 3pm. This is significant only because it meant that I was at KQED when the news broke. In fact, one of the Forum producers broke the news.

She lives in Marin, so she always has a tab open to the Marin Independent Journal; Robin Williams lived and died in the jurisdiction of the Marin Sheriff’s Department, and they led the investigation. They wrote the press release and the Marin IJ were the first to see it and publish it. Our lovely producer saw the press release, and told us about it so fast that nothing came up on Google. (Because, as Dan pointed out, Google is an important source: “If it isn’t on Google, it isn’t true!”)

After a simple email to the entire news room with the news and the link, everyone was moving. Within about three minutes, Forum producers had determined if Williams had ever been on the show (he hadn’t). About three minutes after that, the emails started and the people walked down to ask if he’d ever been on the show. Since photos don’t exactly come across well on radio, people were looking for audio clips, which we unfortunately couldn’t provide.

We’d planned a show for the 9am hour. In fact, there were two shows planned (each 30 minutes). As sometimes happens, however, breaking news replaced the previously selected topics, and a Robin Williams show was instantly being crafted. By the time the decision was really made and the potential guests lined up, it was nearly 4pm. And, with the time sensitive nature of the show, the producers did all the work anyways. They know who’s been on Forum in the past, who they’d most like on the show, etc, without needing to ask questions, which always slow down a process.

It was fascinating to watch the process of breaking news being digested, interpreted, and reported on in the station around me, as tragic as that news may have been. I certainly didn’t expect anything along those lines when I began my internship at Forum, but it was certainly an interesting experience from which I learned a lot.

Tutorial: Painted Floral Stemless Wine Glasses

About a month ago, remember how I went on vacation to Stanford Sierra Camp? And how I had an awesome time and made some awesome arts/crafts projects? I came home with this stemless wine glass, and got so many compliments on it at camp that I lost track. But then I thought about the fact that we don’t have glasses in our new apartment in Boston, and I decided it was time to make some wine glasses.

photo 2

One month later, I’ve completed all sixteen glasses. (Technically fifteen, since one was already finished) They take a while, but they’re a lot of fun and actually pretty simple.


Crate & Barrel Stemless White Wine Glasses, like those here.

Acrylic Paint. I used Martha Stewart’s Satin Acrylic Paint.

photo 1

Q-tips. Brand name q-tips work better, but off brands can work too. You’ll get better results if your q-tip has a tightly wrapped tip – these will hold up to repeated use better.


Step 1. Pick a set of four colors. I found that the color combinations that appealed to me tended to be in similar colors, but had a bit more variation than the first glass I made.

Step 2. Clean the glass. My mom helped me with this step (by helped, I mean completed for me…) But I think she used a diluted bleach to really clean the glass.

Step 3. Flip the glass over and hold it upside down. You’ll be painting on the bottom and up the sides. Using one q-tip for each color, use five dots in a circle to make a single flower. I suggest practicing a bit on paper first to get a sense of how much pressure you need. Over time, I varied the size of my flowers (not intentionally…). It seems that larger flowers, in which you press down harder when making each dot, end up a bit smoother than the smaller flowers, which have little peaks in each dot. These peaks seem to be smaller and smaller as the paint continues to dry and I like both the smooth glasses and those with a bit more texture, so do whatever is easiest for you.

Step 4. Complete the first layer of flowers. Use the colors “randomly” – try to limit making two flowers side by side that are the same color. You’ll be making a second layer that partially overlaps the first, so don’t worry about covering all the space. The most important thing is to get the height you want on the glass. This is a bit difficult to measure, since you’re holding the glass upside down, and you can make the flowers go as high or as low as you want. I chose to have variation in the depth of the flowers so that it seems a little more like a pile of flowers. (This makes sense if you consider that my first glass was supposed to be of cherry blossom flowers, which often fall and form piles.) But you should do whatever you want. I painted my flowers deep enough to be visible with a normal pour of wine, so that it is easy to spot your color out of a table full of glasses, but I also kept them low enough that you’re never going to touch your lips to the (potentially poisonous) paint.

photo 1

Step 5. Let dry. This only needs to be a superficial dry – 2 to 24 hours, depending on if the glass is in the summer sun or not.

Step 6. Complete the second layer of flowers. This layer will finish off the flowers. Look for spots that have a lot of a single color, and layer a flower of a different color there to break it up. Look for spots where flowers are abnormally far apart, and put an extra flower there to bridge the gap. This step is totally optional, but it adds depth and interest to the glasses.

Top view

Step 7. Let dry completelyThis is the long boring part. The paint I used takes 28 days to dry completely, and then it will supposedly be dishwasher safe. I’m letting them dry for 28 days, then I’ll hand wash them and ship them to my new apartment and my almost-housemates.

Step 8. Enjoy! Pictures of this step will crop up here and there, I’m sure….


Meet Your Idols

There are certain people that we’ve always idolized. Actors we’ve grown up loving. Radio personalities we listen to daily. Authors or playwrights we read without regard to the topic of their work because their words are so phenomenal. Dancers and choreographers we would kill to be good enough to work with. Professionals we wish could be mentors, and mentors who are really heroes.

Everyone has these people, even if we don’t necessarily think of them that way. And I think it is interesting that these people inevitably pop up in our lives when we least expect them to. Sometimes you meet an actor on the street, or you recognize a voice in the hallway or a face in the airport. But what do you do?

I walked past Brian Wilson one day in San Francisco. He was just standing on the corner, staring at his phone, reading an email or maybe checking a map. No-one walked up to him, no-one asked him questions or for an autograph. He seemed like a completely normal person, just chilling out on a street corner, waiting for a friend to show up.

A friend of mine saw Fik-shun (So You Think You Can Dance) in an airport, and went up to say hello. Now they’re hanging out, drinking wine, being friends. Because sometimes your idols, though completely normal people, are also, well, normal people. They have normal friends and normal relationships and normal interactions with normal people.

Over the summer, I’ve met a lot of KQED reporters and voices that I’ve literally grown up with coming through the little box in my room and in the car. When we listen to their voices, we have an image of who they are, and sometimes (often) they don’t look like that. Just like the actors and actresses that are cast as our favorite characters don’t always fit the mental images we form while reading the book, these radio voices don’t always – rarely, really – fit the mental images I form while listening to them.  Peter Sagal (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!) makes fun of himself every live show because he “doesn’t sound bald.” But the truth is that we can’t tell what someone looks like by the sound of their voice, and we often create false images. And every time you meet someone and they shatter your personal characterization of them, it is surprising. But it also reminds me that these characterizations are so absurd and so incredibly likely to be false. I’ve met dozens of KQED voices, including Joshua Johnson, Rachael Myrow, Craig Miller, and of course Michael Krasny. All of them were different from what I expected. For one, they’re all way nicer than I expected. (Did I expect KQED staff to be mean? No. Did I expect them to welcome any and all questions, offer to buy me lunch, and be quick to ask “can I help you find somebody” whenever I looked even the slightest bit lost? Also no.) They all look like…themselves, they all sound like themselves, but when they don’t look like they sound it is weird. I don’t really know how to explain it.

I started this post this morning, about six hours before the news of Robin Williams’ death broke. But now, it somehow seems even more fitting. He was such an amazing comedian; my favorite movies of his are Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber. To see such a wonderful talent on the silver screen, such comedic genius, it is infinitely more painful for me to learn that he struggled with a fight against depression for so long. Of course, he has dramatic roles too (my favorite is Good Will Hunting), and I can’t help but think that he brought his real-life struggles into those characters. I guess everyone has a secret life, and maybe it should stay that way. RIP, Robin Williams, and may you always laugh.