Selected for the SIGGRAPH 2017 SV!

Last night I received an email from the Siggraph Student Volunteer Program saying that I have been selected to be a volunteer. Siggraph is the “world’s largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques.” It shows the latest technical achievements, research results, art, screening, and “commercial exhibits displaying the industry’s current hardware, software, and services.”

This conference is five days long and, this year, is held in Los Angeles.

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I first heard of this conference from one of my relatives who attended it a long time ago. She told me that the movie “Jurassic Park” was screened at the conference before it was in theaters. This movie was one of the first movies that used realistic visual effects and it amazed the movie industry.

I want to be part of this conference because it brings people together from both science and art fields – they collaborate and it benefits both fields. It also is related to my studies next year at CSUN’s department of Cinema and Television Arts. The Student Volunteer program is impacted, so I am very lucky to have been offered this position and am very excited to attend it.

Trump’s First 100 Days

During the election, one of President Trump’s big promises to his voters was his “100 Day Plan”. He vowed to do quite a few significant things during his first 100 days, and even released an outline of what those things would be. This Saturday, the 29th, will mark the end of Trump’s first 100 days, and though he stated that his presidency has accomplished more in the first few months of office than any other, that’s probably (definitely) not the case.

These are a few actions Trump promised he would accomplish by Saturday:

  1. Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress
  2. Instate a 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service
  3. Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
  4. Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Now, did he fulfill these promises? Promises 1 & 2 go hand-in-hand with his “draining the swamp” initiative. However, his cabinet is full of billionaires and business moguls that have no experience in terms of politics, and are at risk of making political decisions based on how they’ll affect their businesses. That seems pretty “swampy” to me.

For promise #3, THE ENVIRONMENT IS IMPORTANT. CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REAL THING, DONALD. Though Trump believes climate change is a falsehood made up by the Chinese, it is actually a reality, and a dangerous one. Also, he said he was going to fix America’s water infrastructure but I’m pretty sure the people of Flint, Michigan are still drinking contaminated water, soooo.

And for the 4th promise, yes, Trump did ban many people from certain primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S., for, about, a day. Then, everyone realized it is was incredibly stupid and awful and goes against literally everything America is supposed to stand for, and blocked the ban.

So, no, Donald, you really didn’t accomplish very much.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post

So, good job, Trump! Though I hope they won’t be, your second hundred days will probably be as shi**y and backwards as your first!

End of an era

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Looking back five years, I still remember when I first stepped on campus at Ojai Valley School as an 8th grader. Fear of the uncertain filled my heart; I didn’t know what to expect and what challenges I would have to overcome at my new school. I gave my parents one last hug right before my dorm parent called me back into the dorms, and in that moment I knew I wouldn’t see my parents for at least three months, the longest I had been away from my parents at that time.

As scary as being a boarding student was, I have overcome it and made it to the very end, which is being a senior at Ojai Valley School. I still can hardly believe that it has been four years since I graduated middle school, and five years since I decided to leave home in Shanghai to come to school in the United States. There were a lot of things that I wanted to do during my high school years, and I have done many of them and feel accomplished because of it. Checking each thing off in my mind is a relief. I’m that much closer to my goal.

Looking forward, graduation is almost here. I have been through four proms, at least eight camping trips, played on a lacrosse team, was a stagehand for three plays, survived English 11, and lived with six different roommates. There are countless other memories, including having seen a lot of my former classmates/teammates graduate high school. I’m wondering what it will feel like to finally check off the last thing on my “To Do” list in high school — to sit on the stage listening to Mr. Cooper address us for the last time, and for his last time, because as we graduate he is retiring. It’s the end of an era for both of us, and the beginning of something new.

College (and Life!) Bound

There comes a time in every senior’s career when they have to start picking colleges. Now, I’m far from being a senior, but I started thinking about colleges after going to the East Coast during spring break. Through all my time thinking about location, majors, and programs, one thing has stuck with me.

my dog eating a tangerine
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How are we, as children, supposed to decide the course of our lives? When someone chooses a college, they chose their connections, their future job opportunities, and many other hidden factors. When we choose a major, we cut off most of our time to explore other subjects of thought.

Picture this: You walk in to Ms. Oberlander and Mr. Alvarez’s college meeting.  You sit down, take out your laptop, and open Naviance. You take a look at the colleges you’re thinking about. UCSB, Chapman, Harvard, or Yale. You have your target schools, but you know in your heart you’re dying to go to your reach school. You raise your hand to go to the bathroom, interrupting Ms. Oberlander’s speech about freedom.

It’s a little ironic. When most students go to college, they don’t know how to handle themselves. Just three months before freshman orientation, they still had to ask to use the restroom. They still had their parents doing their laundry and making them dinner. Teachers still told them how to dress, how to act. At OVS, we have the unique opportunity to learn some of the skills most college students lack so that we are more prepared to take on this new challenge.

However, OVS (and any school for that matter) can’t prepare us for what’s out there. It can’t prepare you for the choice between going to class or playing video games. It can’t prepare you for the people who will hurt you or how to make friends. They can only cross their fingers and hope you succeed.

April Showers…and Finals

Photo Credit: Sizzle

As California transitions into spring, the “April Showers” have been few and far between. However, there has been a recent shower of finals and exams. Because APs are soon to be upon us, teachers have been giving us our typical end of the year finals now, rather than later, to prepare us for the AP.

That’s all well and good, but after finals we still learn things, and some classes have a second final during finals week, along with the AP in May. And, I’m pretty certain almost every student at this point is 97% done, I know I am. This is the point of the year when projects, essays, research papers, tests, and reviews are piled on, with the thought in the back of your mind that finals are in a month and a half, and (in my case) you literally have no idea what’s going on in half of your classes.

T-minus 45 days until summer.

J.K. Rowling, You’ve Given Me an Identity Crisis

I have spent most of my years wondering what Hogwarts house I would belong in. And when I say that, I mean I’ve spent way too many hours obsessively tapping my fingers in introspection.

For about half of those many years I have been told time and time again that I am unquestionably, undoubtably a Ravenclaw. So when Pottermore launched, part of me was just itching to go and check, but something stopped me. I did not go to Pottermore, in fact I waited approximately seven years before I visited.

I now know that I was terrified, as dorky and riddikulus as it sounds, yes I was terrified. What if I ended up in a house I didn’t feel like I was part of? Part of me had always held onto this idea that I, like the trio, was part of Gryffindor, but I knew that I was probably Ravenclaw.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

I have spent years avoiding my inevitable sorting, but I finally caved. I’m not sure how I feel now that I have. I took every other quiz I could before this one, including an Ilvermorny house quiz, which I was surprised to find I am not a Horned Serpent, I am a Wampus, known to be the body of a wizard and the warrior. So maybe that should’ve been my first warning flag.

When I finally took the sorting quiz, I came out Slytherin. I understand to a degree, but I wanted a second opinion. So I did something taboo, I cheated the system, which, thinking about it now, may make me more Slytherin than I thought. But still, I made another account. It never hurts to get a second opinion.

This time Ilvermorny was not a Horned Serpent, instead a Thunderbird, known for spirit and adventure. Both for Ilvermorny and Hogwarts I tried to answer very similarly to the first sorting and as true to myself as I felt I could be.

For Hogwarts, this time I came out Gryffindor. I should be ecstatic, the secret hope has been partially confirmed. But something still doesn’t sit right.

I feel the most closely linked to Ravenclaw and the Horned Serpent, the houses of the wise, studious, and intellectuals. How could my results say traits, that yes, I do have and pride myself on, outweigh what I believe to actually be my strongest characteristics?

I have spent so many years of my life wondering about this… to the point where I am just straight up confused now.

Understandably, the houses together form one complete concept – everybody has a bit of every house. The point of the sorting is to identify the strongest of those traits, so why do I feel that the traits identified by a J.K. Rowling-approved computer algorithm as my strongest are wrong?

Photo Credit: The Odyssey Online

Maybe because that’s just it. Despite my unerring geekiness and absolute worshipping of J.K. Rowling, I am not going to trust a computer to tell me what house I’m supposed to be for Ilvermorny or Hogwarts. The decision is for the Sorting Hat and the Carvings alone to make, and it is widely recognized that the Sorting Hat takes your belief into consideration and it is a personal belief that the carvings of Ilvermorny do too.

I, to give Pottermore some credit, as I stated before have an unerring belief in almost anything J.K. Rowling approves. That being said, I believe that this was partially correct both times and partially wrong both times.

The readers are what bring the story to life, and believe me, I am a reader and Harry Potter is definitely very much real life to me. So shouldn’t what I believe to be true mean something?

I feel that I have the ambition, resourcefulness, and many other characteristics of a Slytherin, but I also feel that I have the boldness, daring, and countless other traits of a Gryffindor, and equal to both of the previous I feel that I have the curiosity, drive for wisdom, and basically everything else that Ravenclaw treasures. My feelings on the Ilvermorny houses mirror my feelings on the Hogwarts houses – I value adventure, strength, and wisdom.

Simply put, I will continue to stand by my allegiance to all: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Horned Serpent.

But those of the steadfast Pottermore belief will have to forgive me for my terrible sin: I am going to take Pottermore as suggestion.

I will continue to believe that I am a Ravenclaw/Horned Serpent who has very strong tendencies toward the many other houses, like the well-rounded person, with an inclination toward intellect, I believe myself to be.

Why Can’t Boys Have Long Hair?

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If you read almost any dress code guideline, whether for school or for the workplace, an everlasting rule is that males must have short, groomed hair.

But why?

Obviously there are many double standards, both in the dress code and the real world. But many of these double standards apply to females, policing how much skin they can show or how much makeup they can wear, making sure they don’t “distract” others. These must be addressed, and they often are, even if no changes come from it.

But, many don’t address the fact that males aren’t allowed (whether in society, school, or work) to express themselves, and this goes much farther than just hair. It is considered outside of the societal norm for men to have long hair, earrings, wear “girly” clothing, or express themselves emotionally. If they present themselves in an effeminate way, they are considered inferior or mocked – called “girly” as though that’s an insult, or told that only females can only act certain ways and wear certain things, and vice versa. The reality is, both men and women have emotions and feelings, both want to express themselves, and they should be able to express and present themselves in any way they want. This something that society as a whole has to address and accept.

Sleep talking in my second Language?

I have a roommate, and she tells me that I talk in my sleep. I sometimes speak in full sentences, such as “the Jacuzzi was good,” or I mumble. When I wake up I don’t remember what I talked about at all.

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I’ve heard that people dream in the language they are most comfortable speaking. My roommate says I speak in both English and in Japanese. I was speaking mostly Japanese until I was 16 years old, but I’ve been using more English these past three years. I thought I was more fluent in Japanese just by the number of years I’ve used it in comparison to English, but it seems like now I know English just as well.

I was trying my best not to speak in Japanese, not to read in Japanese and not to watch Japanese T.V. shows for the past three years in order to be more fluent in English. But I never thought I would be as fluent in English as Japanese. So I am very proud of myself for achieving my goal of being bilingual.

In the Dungeon

She was rotting away. She could feel it.

Erasmus had left her there to rot. After everything.

She was following what she believed to be best. He was the one who had taught her to do that.

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Her eyes were closed but she knew, she knew that he was in her cell. Watching her. Waiting for something. Something that wouldn’t come. He wanted an explanation, but she didn’t have one.

She couldn’t explain to him that there was some deep tether in her gut that his plan would go wrong. He was too proud for her to say anything like that. She couldn’t explain to him that she threw away what he saw as his future on a “gut instinct.”

So he continued to stare and she continued pretending to sleep.

She could hear him shift, she could hear him breathing. It was making her nervous. She wanted to tell him but she couldn’t.

She just couldn’t.

The Power (Rangers) of Representation

Over the weekend, my friend dragged me to a Ventura movie theater to watch the Power Rangers. Yes, Power Rangers. I remember walking into the movie theater wishing I could go get my nails done instead. I sat down and prepared myself to fall asleep.

Right when my eyes started to flutter, Billy Cranston, the soon-to-be blue ranger, admitted he had autism. Not in an embarrassed or comical way, just simply put. Jason Lee Scott, the red ranger, responded with sarcasm, which Billy said he didn’t understand.

While this scene may seem insignificant and random to most, it is just the kind of positive, informative representation that people with autism need. Billy’s autism isn’t made to be the punchline, the means of a joke. Billy is a valuable member of the team, just as strong as the others. He was even the first to morph, something the entire team struggled with.

billy Cranston
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This moment is joining the many moments in media embracing autism. Sesame Street is introducing its first character with autism, Julia. She’s afraid to shake Big Bird’s hand when she first meets him, prompting Big Bird to get upset. However, Elmo explains to Big Bird that it is harder for her to come in contact with others. By the end of the episode, she is playing tag with the group and is jumping with excitement.

These moments are so momentous because they’re bringing awareness to a larger audience. They’re informing the public through interesting storylines and complex character developments. They’re also bringing much-needed representation. Now, little girls and boys with autism will believe that they can be superheroes. Preschoolers will learn about their best friend’s disorder, and these successes will pave the way for new stories to be made.