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Archive for May, 2008

Inspired!

I have been inspired by yunyun09 to update my about page! Since I’ll be studying like mad for the next few days for finals/SAT IIs, I probably won’t be posting anything new.

On the subject of inspiring people, I’d like to share a story I first heard from one of my sixth-grade teachers, Mr. Chang. It’s a true story which involves one of his former students.

“One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw
a kid from my class was walking home from school. His
name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his
books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring
home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a
nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football
game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I
shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward
him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his
arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses
went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten
feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible
sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and
as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw
a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said,
“Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked
at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face.

It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where
he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him
why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private
school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid
before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some
of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I
asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my
friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the
more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my
friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the
huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said,
“Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles
with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and
handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best
friends. When we were seniors, we began to think
about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I
was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be
friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He
was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business
on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the
time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for
graduation.

I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and
speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He
was one of those guys that really found himself during high
school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.
He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.
Boy, sometimes I was jealous.

Today was one of those days. I could see that he was
nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back
and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me
with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.
“Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and
began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped
you make it through those tough years. Your parents,
your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly
your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a
friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I
am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the
story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill
himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had
cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn’t have to do
it later and was carrying his stuff home.

He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

“Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from
doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular
boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same
grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With
one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For
better or for worse.”

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After another one of my web escapades (I seem to be having a lot of those now that I have four frees in one day), I discovered Walter H. G. Lewin, a Physics professor at MIT.  He’s gathered a diverse following of people from around the world and inspired many to begin to explore the wonders of Physics. 

Professor Lewin spends an average of 25 hours preparing his awe-inducing lectures and demonstrations.  Some demonstrations include firing a golf ball cannon at a stuffed monkey to show projectile motion and placing himself in the trajectory of a 33-pound steel wrecking ball to illustrate Hooke’s Law while counting on the conservation of energy to keep him alive.  You can watch a VERY entertaining video of this and more here.   

The following are quotes from people who have been greatly influenced/intrigued by Lewin’s teachings. (New York Times article)

“Through your inspiring video lectures i have managed to see just how BEAUTIFUL Physics is, both astounding and simple,” – – 17-year-old from India

“I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes.”  – – Steve Boigon, 62, florist from San Diego

“Hi, Prof. Lewin!!  I love your inspiring lectures and I love MIT!!!”  – – 17-year-old fan from China

“You are now my Scientific Father. In spite of the bad occupation and war against my lovely IRAQ, you made me love USA because you are there and MIT is there.”  – – Physics teacher from Iraq

“Professor Lewin…made me SEE … and it has changed my life for the better!!  I had never taken a course in physics, or calculus, or differential equations. Now I have done all that in order to be able to follow your lectures.  I walk down the street analyzing the force of a boy on skateboard or the recoil of a carpenter using a nail gun. Thank you with all my heart.”  – – Mr. Boigon

Professor Lewin tells his students, “Your life will never be the same. Because of your knowledge, you will be able to see way more…”  He is a truly inspiring individual in the field of physics, someone who has made the subject both fun and interesting for millions. 

 Go here to view Lewin’s popular online lectures.

 

 

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Everyone knows about red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and indigo. The colors of the rainbow. But there’s an entirely different spectrum of colors, those of the forgotten rainbow. Hues that catch your eye but fade in memory or shades that you never really notice. These colors are all very different: some are flashy, others drab, some are faint, others bold. But they’ve all been forgotten and that’s enough to create a connection.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Russet Mud

It’s not so hard to conjure an image of the perfect couple. Far away in another world, a handsome young prince stares off into a glittering distance. He has citrine-yellow hair with piercing sapphire blue eyes. His body seems as if chiseled out of ice but you can tell that he’s also gentlemanly and knowledgeable. And at his side is a princess with brilliant ruby red locks and eyes of an emerald green. She is as elegant as she is clever, a powerful beauty indeed. Without a doubt also the type who enchants little babies and communicates with cuddly animals. In the background, clouds dance around the diamond turrets of the castle.

Your own clothes are suddenly splattered with russet-colored mud. A trip over a stubborn root in a crack in the sidewalk makes you forget your fantasies and return back to reality. It’s so much harder to imagine your own Prince Charming. Because for you, life is far from a fairy tale. Far from brilliant shades of color and flashy jewels that symbolize forever. Instead, you see the color russet.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Puce Dress

I was this close to becoming a mother and yet I knew that it would not be the logical choice. In my current condition, adoption was the only way to make sure that my child would be taken care of. I knew that much.

Indeed I had always known. So why was it so painful? Is it like a child who goes after a toy only after his sibling first shows interest in it? After seeing the faces of the to-be adoptive parents, I felt almost jealous. After all, I was the one suffering during these nine months.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the happy Hollywood-esque family shows where parents suddenly begin to fuss about whether their adopted child really loves them. The child, of course, will say that it doesn’t matter who gave birth to her, that her adopted parents will always be her real parents. Now that I think about it, pregnancy is really underrated because it’s surely as arduous a task as actually taking care of a child. So much pain and regret without any reward.

Would they raise her differently? Love her as much as I wanted to? I hold on a little longer than necessary to coo into her ear, hoping she’ll remember my voice. Press her close to my bosom so that I won’t forget her angelic scent. The scent of an angel who will break my heart. The little dress she has on is a drab puce, darker than that of the two pink lines originally on the pregnancy test. I don’t really want to ever hear from her to-be parents. It is the end and it is much too painful.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Olive Skin

Hello there my little boy. What is it you say? You wish to be a firefighter? That’s very nice. Firefighters are brave and strong and they save people. You can be a firefighter. In fact, you can be anything you want to be.

Oh really? You’ve changed your mind? Yes, it’d be pretty cool to be an astronaut. You’ll get to ride spaceships and fly to the moon. My little dreamer, you can reach the stars if you try.

So, what is it today? Sorry, I misheard you. What did you say again? You want to be…no, no you can’t. Whoever got such a notion into your head? Please don’t cry. Darling, there’s nothing wrong with your olive skin. Forget it dear, you can’t look like them.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Bistre Grave

It’s dark and cold outside but the young orphan sneaks out anyways. Little Janice had told him a week ago that dead mommies and daddies were buried in the graveyard next to the orphanage. So now he would go and see for himself.

There are stone gargoyles with horns and claws in front of the gate to the cemetery. They’re there to scare off bad demons so the little child is not afraid. It is very cold so he imagines that the gargoyles are protecting him from the wind with their big wings.

It’s not too long before he notices the upturned grave and the old bones poking out of the bistre-colored earth. They look like finger bones and Little Janice did say that sometimes thieves came to steal wedding rings from the dead. It doesn’t really matter anyways since no one will remember this Mr. Charles Warton.  Warton or Wilson, it’s hard to tell from the weather-worn lettering on the tombstone.

But it really isn’t fair, is it? And not very nice either. The little child kneels on the silent earth surrounded by hungry shadows and makes a promise with Mr. Warton. If the dead will be forgotten, then so will the lonely. And in a bittersweet way, that’s comforting.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Chartreuse Childhood

Like everything else, childhood is forgotten. Once, the bright chartreuse-colored ball bounced in grassy parks of the same color. All was bright and animated, like the cheerful notes of a flute in the background. You came down your side of the road on your tricycle and I on my scooter. We scrunched up our faces whenever we ate those sour lime-flavored candies and laughed afterwards. We climbed trees and flew butterfly kites with brilliant splashes of chartreuse paint since it was our favorite color. But somewhere down the road, it became too bright and childish, like childhood itself. And slowly the music faded into an unrecognizable melody.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Carmine Blood

There’s a little game called Russian Roulette. And it’s rather easy to play. First we all sit in a circle around one of those old-fashioned revolvers with six chambers. There’s a single cartridge but no one knows which chamber contains it. Then someone spins the revolver like a roulette wheel. Maybe it’ll point at you: in that case, you must press the gun to your own temple and pull the trigger. If you’re lucky and only a click is heard, we’ll spin again and continue the game. But if you’re not…then it’s over for you. You’re forgotten.

What’s life without a little risk? There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of feeling the cold metal against your forehead. It’s exhilarating and perhaps the reason why we’ll still play even knowing about the 1/6th chance of instant death. But even if your life ends, it doesn’t mean that the game will. Then the next day, we’ll add a new bullet and a new person and start all over. And the only reminders of you are the carmine stains on the dungeon floors, traces of your own dried blood.

Now that you’re familiar with the rules of the game, let’s play.  I’ll spin first.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

 

Midnight blue Memories

Have you ever loved?

And I mean ever truly loved? That unconditional surge of affection? Like the kind between father and son. Or at least the kind that should be between father and son. I know that he loved me once. But things happened.

Have you ever hated?

They started as petty disagreements but grew to full-fledged arguments. And neither side would give in. My father, he wasn’t to kind to show affection. And I was too busy being the typical rebellious teenager. Sometimes, it works out in the end. But in my case it didn’t. So my hatred grew.

Have you ever forgotten?

I lost contact with him for ten years. Ten long years. I was too proud, too frightened to apologize. Not ready to forgive. At night, I would stare out my window into the frigid midnight blue sky and marvel at how endless it was. But somehow, the distance between my father and I seemed even colder and much more expansive. Eventually though, I forgot about what we had been fighting over and found some courage where before there had been none. And now, I’ve finally returned when it’s too late.

“Dad, I wanted to…”

“Do I know you?”

According to the nurse, he’s had Alzheimer’s for the past few years. Fortunately, he was still capable of speech. But no one had told me. I curse myself for waiting so long and swear that I would give anything to be able to relive those ten years. Indeed, I was the greatest coward in the universe.

Have you ever remembered?

It’s now been months since I first found out about my dad’s condition. And sadly enough, this is the most time I’ve ever spent by his side.

“I once had a son.”

If I hadn’t seen his frail lips moving, I would have never believed it. My dad’s words are so unexpected and moving that tears start to rush to my eyes. I can’t even being to explain the sudden surge of emotion.

“What was he like?”

“I don’t remember.”

But I did. I remembered.

“Your son…he thinks that you’re a great father. And he…I know that he loves you.”

And far away, neglected dreams shimmer against a lost sea of arctic midnight blue.

– –– –– –– –– –– –

There you have it: memories from a lost past. A collection of emotions and characteristics that outline the hazier realities of life and death, love and hate. The colors of the forgotten rainbow.

 

 

 

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Irena Sendlerowa

This post is in dedication to Irenea Sendlerowa (also known as Irene Sendler), who recently passed away on May 12, 2008.  To many, she was known as the “female Schindler” and proof of the existence of selfless goodwill.  Sendlerowa helped save over 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto by smuggling them out in bags and through sewers. 

In 1934, she was arrested and taken to Pawiak prison where she was tortured until the bones of her legs and feet fractured and even sentenced to death.  In spite of this, she refused to turn over a list of the names of the children she had helped to escape.  After she escaped imprisonment, Sendlerowa continued her earlier work.

To end, I’d like to include some quotes from Sendlerowa:

“I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality.”

“Let me stress most emphatically that we who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes. Indeed, that term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little. I could have done more. This regret will follow me to my death.”

Let us remember Irena Sendlerowa as an inspiration and carry on her legacy of compassion.

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Updates on Twilit

Since Physics has officially ended, I can technically stop posting to this blog. But that’s definitely not what will happen!

I will continue posting about random stories/life/interesting things (occasionally still about Physics!) And since I now have more free time, I can eventually update the Enlightenment section of this blog.

I already have plans to write a 7-part vignette series titled “The Forgotten Rainbow.” So there is still much to look forwards to in the future!

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After the AP Exam

Well…what to say? Hmm…I thought that the multiple choice section was rather difficult but the free response was okay.  Kind of.

Grr. Of course, there’s nothing I can do now to change anything whether it consists of cramming, complaining, or hoping that the majority of America’s high-school student population is as stupid as the rumors say (just kidding! ;] )

Anyways, I can’t believe that Physics is over for this year! It was a lot more enjoyable than I originally expected, partly due to the awesome class atmosphere.  I’ve definitely learned a LOT since my first intimidating day of class and even though I’ll probably forget all the details over the summer, I’ll still remember kinematics! ^ ^ Heehee.

And since Physics is everywhere, there are still many many opportunities to stand in awe of its presence and update this blog!  It’s amazing that I’ve written 32 Physics posts over the course of this year, starting with Post 1:

“My mind is currently at rest (meaning velocity=0).  If that’s even possible. Anyways, to start off…two weeks and one test over.”

 My, how much we’ve all grown!  Oh dears, getting all nostalgic… ^ ^

SurfaceTension.jpg picture by xtaintedwatersx

Pretty Surface Tension!! Yippee!!  Thank you to one and all for an awesome year!

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

A Mother's Love poster

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