Monday, December 12, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nobels for Chinese Scientists Next Year?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/01/nobel-prizes-asian-scientists-us

According to the Guardian article, Chinese scientists will start getting more Nobel prizes. Since Nobel prizes are usually given for decades old research, this would actually be pretty impressive. Perhaps the Chinese research community will start getting more prestigious. It is generally scoffed at by the American research community these days.

In other random news. The Chinese made an animation of the launching of their space shuttle and used "America the Beautiful" in the soundtrack. Chinese people are so funny.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Some Chinese Are Thinking

http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/pictures/adrian-fisk-what-are-young-chinese-thinking-about.html

I thought it was very moving. It makes me feel sad because there is so much to do and there always will be. I don't feel personally responsible for other people, but it still makes me feel like a failure.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bread By Sadie

My friend Sadie also started making gluten-free bread.


I got a loaf of the teff sourdough. I brought it to a party, actually, and it was a hit!

Tasty Italian Food

Yesterday Smark and I went to this restaurant in Albany, CA, which is just a bit north of Berkeley.

It was amaaazing. I had the veal and Smark had the homemade pasta with duck.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trip Highlights

Busch gardens

baby rhino!

baby flamingos!

Grand Canyon

Arizona sun

Hoover Dam

Friday, August 26, 2011

Arrived in Berkeley Sunday Night!

No speeding tickets or accidents! Whoooo

First experiences on the road
-purchasing and filling radiator fluid
-replacing windshield wipers
-hiking grand canyon
-witnessing an 18 wheeler's tire explode
-buying handmade Indian jewelry

Firsts in Berkeley
-CA driver's license
-parking ticket (damn you street sweeping day!!)
-smog test
-earthquake
-Cal ID

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Political Economy

Really good article

It's the Political Economy Stupid

Idea-smiths provide language, narratives and tools for those in control, but the broad contours of policy depend on who the controllers happen to be.


Hmm...maybe I should try harder to be a controller

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Unleashing Big Money for a Green Economy

I just read the finance section of the Green Economy Report by the UNEP (UN Environment Programme), the Green Economy : Finance I am most interested in the section about new markets and instruments such as the carbon market, green bonds, and green property. The insurance industry is also an ideal vehicle for driving more environmentally sustainable decision-making.

To me, it is critical that assets controlled by the high net worth community, asset pools of insurance companies and pension systems, and the financial services and investment sectors get directed towards driving the transition to a green economy. I would like to do work or research on redirecting assets towards green industry and infrastructure, but I'm not sure where to start. I still need to figure out who works on this already.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Favorite Economist

I think I have a favorite mainstream economist now: Kenneth Arrow

Last weekend I went to Raven Used Books on Newbury Street. I got a book by Kenneth Arrow, the Limits of Organization. I just finished the first chapter, Rationality: Individual and Social, where he argues that "collective action can extend the domain of individual rationality."

Collective action is a means of power, a means by which individuals can more fully realize their individual values


I like how he frames the discussion about organization, trust, and social good.

I think everyone should read this in high school or maybe college. It would help people think about what markets, organizations, and governments are for. It is about ethics and how to form the value judgments about what we want as individuals and how we can cooperate.

Practicing Painting

Latest creations. Even though I'm getting better at painting, it's clear that I'm still much better at pencil and pen. I still use brushes as if I wish they were pencil, and I am still surprised when I don't get the same sensation of the pen pushing back from the page from painting.

Weird mountain




abstract inspired from Ratatat song "Shempi."


2 weeks till cross country road trip!!!!

in two weeks, I won't be in Florida anymore. whooooo

Fowl in Boston





Last weekend I visited Boston for the last time before leaving Florida. There were a lot of ducks and swans at the Swan Pond in the Boston Public Gardens. There were many ducklings and the swans were nesting. It was a nice scene.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ignorance Preserves Peace Between Friends

It's true. I like watching the Real Housewives shows. The Real Housewives of New York just ended its 4th season. A quick summary of the format. Camera crews follow 5 women around, and after each day of filming, each woman talks about what they were thinking earlier in the day as things were happening. Editing puts clips of things that happen right next to what they thought. They often were commenting on what they thought while talking to each other. Then, at the end of the year, the women get together for a "reunion show," and they all talk about what happened in the season. Well, it seems like every reunion show gets increasingly heated and out of control. People generally chalk it up to the casting of relatively outspoken and aggressive women. There is certainly some truth to that. You probably must be a little loony to think putting your life on television is a good idea. However, I have a theory that it would probably happen to anybody, man or woman.

Usually, when we go about our day, we interpret things that happen our own way, and while we do talk to other people when we have disagreements, of course there are still things that we don't say out loud. People generally have a positive view of themselves and even if they know other people have an uncharitable opinion of them, if nobody ever bothers to bring it up, there are no conflicts. If a camera crew and producer is following you around all the time, though... Plus, usually people stop thinking about things, but when it gets rehashed on TV, and then at the reunion show months after it happened, the negative feelings stick around and probably get stuck.

I think this means that a certain level of "collective cognitive dissonance" is needed for people to get along. I don't know if there's a real term for it. Actually Smark made it up. Sometimes we need to think everyone else is stupid without knowing that everyone sometimes thinks we're stupid in order to get along. People are often able to accept that they're a little bit wrong, but not too wrong. I think this rationalization is necessary for protecting one's mental health. Otherwise you would either get depressed or you'd constantly be second guessing your actions, which would probably make you depressed.

Anyway, all those women should probably quit the shows for their own mental health and emotional well-being.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Next Climate Conference in Rio

It's not too early to start thinking about the next UN Conference on Sustainable Development. It will be next June 4-6 in Rio DeJaneiro. One of the objectives this time is the Green Economy. I have to admit I'm a little confused, though, because shouldn't this be a theme every year?

At any rate, the UN Environment Programme is putting out a Green Economy Report this year that is pretty comprehensive.

It has plans for Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, Forests, Renewable Energy, Manufacturing, Waste, Buildings, Transport, Tourism, Cities, Modelling, Enabling Conditions, and Finance.

I think I'm personally most interested in Renewable Energy, Manufacturing, and Finance.

Power Struggle

Al Gore recently wrote a piece in the Rolling Stones about politics and climate change. He urges:

Finally, and above all, don't give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don't have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, "Now go out and make me do it."
...

This is not naive; trust me on this. It may take more individual voters to beat the Polluters and Ideologues now than it once did — when special-interest money was less dominant. But when enough people speak this way to candidates, and convince them that they are dead serious about it, change will happen — both in Congress and in the White House. As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."


I really like the quote by Frederick Douglass. It really also applied to money. The kinds of people who typically end up with a lot of money or power are ruthless. That's how they got where they are. It is self-selection. I often feel that the majority of Americans are too trusting of these people, believing them to be fair-minded and deserving of their power or wealth. To me, it's not about "deserving" it or not. Ruthless people don't think about what is fair. They think about what is the most they can get. In my view, when it comes to money or power, the only difference between earning it and taking it is that when you "earn" it, people give it to you voluntarily. If the average American employee wants a bigger cut of the profits or for wealthy Americans to pay a bigger share of the taxes, they just need to demand it. We don't need to shy away from demands for fear of economic repercussions. Do Americans really think that those at the top worry about the national economy when they decide on their bonuses?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

After Darwinism

Lynn recently introduced me to the ideas of Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris. She is a biologist who presents a framework for science that motivates the transition to environmental sustainability. The most interesting part of her talk was that Darwinism only describes the adolescent stage of human society development. After that, there must be cooperation to create a sustainable ecosystem.

I think she mischaracterizes entropy, though. Entropy is orthogonal to destruction vs organization. It is simply going from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. If you build something, like a house, you are adding organization, but you are putting a lot of energy in, so the entropy of the whole system is still increased, although the entropy of the house itself is decreased. The sun decreases entropy on the earth, but in the scope of the universe, entropy is still increased. It seems like people who talk about sustainability and ecology really like talking about entropy. I don't really get it.

Godel, Escher, Bach for Kids!

I was talking to my friend James today. He says that what he'd really like to do one day is host a children's science show, kind of like Bill Nye. Kids today really don't have anything like that anymore, and they really need it. He made this back in college about the concept of infinity. Blast from the past!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

California Green Jobs Report

I read more about the California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Demand Response.

This is really a line of research I am interested in pursuing. Here are some things that stuck out to me.

They talked about the need for "high-road agreements," which I think means including higher standards in contracts for businesses. The report also stresses the importance of enforcing standards and having certifications for labor force training.

The study found that incorporating environmentally friendly practices and standards into traditional training programs was more important than brand new training programs for new specialized green jobs. That is, greening traditional trades is more effective than anticipating narrow specialized emerging occupations. Actually, this is exciting because this has been my attitude towards green jobs, although it was just based on a hunch. The report's conclusion is more about the technicalities of job creation and training, but the message I was trying to send when I did the Big Picture Panel Lecture was that students should try to work on sustainability within whatever field they chose, not feel like they needed to change careers to work on environmental sustainability. While I think it makes sense to try to get a Sustainability minor or certificate, it would not make sense to make a Sustainability major. At least, not for most people.

I also thought of two other ideas while reading this report. One is that maybe businesses that work on contracts should have online rating sites like Yelp, especially government contractors. Consumer product ratings are now ubiquitous, but taxpayers regularly pay companies that they don't know much about. On the other hand, it may be that this information is readily available, and people are just not that interested.

The other idea is that students in high school and also college should have more information available about possible career choices so they can make better decisions. It seems like to me that most people make career decisions based on their interests, which is good, but I think it would be better if there was at least a little bit of data or infographics. Otherwise, the bit of data that students use are from TV shows and celebrities. It is becoming clear that the middle class has benefited the last three decades from cheap goods in China, and so it has not been particularly difficult to maintain a pretty good standard of living in the United States even if you did not make savvy career choices. It simply has not been that competitive. I think that the labor market is going to get more and more competitive now in the United States, and that more data for students are in order, not just more SAT prep.

Viral Web Commercials

Hu Ge is a Chinese filmmaker who got his start making spoofs and posting them on the internet. He did a couple of internet commercials for 7-Up that I think are really funny.





I also think it's really impressive that he sort of invented his career by being creative with his interest in filmmaking.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shipping 3,000 Miles

Today I called Amtrak to find out more about Amtrak Express shipping service. Apparently, there is an Amtrak shipping booth at every Amtrak Station, where you can drop off packages, and it gets delivered to any other Amtrak Station by freight. It's pretty affordable.

For Boston South Station to Oakland California:

50lbs $52

100lbs $67
$.57 each lbs over 100

500lbs $295 max
delivery in 4-7 days

Train also emits the least CO2 at 0.055lbs CO2 per Ton-Mile. Plane is a whopping 3.366lbs CO2 per Ton-Mile, and car is about 0.654lbs CO2 per Ton-Mile.

I've been trying to do my own little calculations for transporting things in my particular car. The easiest way to approximate how much extra emissions it takes to transport an extra 100lbs is to compare the average fuel economies with and without the extra weight. With just me, my car can average 33mpg if I'm driving on the highway 80% of the time. With an extra 100lbs, which is just a bit less than another person, I estimate that my fuel economy gets down to 28mpg at most. It takes an extra 5.4 gallons to travel 1000 miles with the extra 100lbs. There is about 19.4lbs of CO2 per gallon of gas. It comes out to being about 1lb of CO2 per Ton-Mile. The cost in extra gas would be about $64 for $4/gallon gas, so about the same as Amtrak Express.

(An optimistic estimate would be 30mpg, which comes out to 3 gallons more, which is about .582lbs per Ton-Mile and $36.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good to Sea

Green Economy Labor Economics

Yesterday I applied for a research job at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment to do research on the minimum wage.

On their main page, they were spotlighting research by the Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy. They just put out a new report that "California’s energy efficiency policies have a big job impact, but state needs to support more highly skilled and highly paid construction trades work force."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dance In Berkeley


The Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance is in Berkeley, which is really exciting. Mahea Uchiyama is a well-known hawaiian and tahitian dance instructor. I probably won't join this fall or winter, but maybe next spring. The performance classes go to Hawaii and Tahiti sometimes for performances, which would be really fun. I think I will be too busy with classes and hopefully research work to do much performing, though.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Debt and Politics

Economist article shaming Republicans.

Senate Democrats present an alternative.

GSPP Autobiographical Sketch

I am entering the Goldman School of Public Policy's Masters in Public Policy Program this fall. This is my introduction. I'm not sure how long they would like it to be, though.




Yang Ruan was born in China and grew up in the United States. She studied electrical engineering at MIT and worked in the electrical engineering field for several years. She has always been interested in environmental sustainability, and is changing careers to shape environmental policy more directly. Yang's interests range from environmental finance and environmental markets to energy and technology policy. She wants to learn more about quantitative tools, economics, and dynamical systems to design effective and equitable environmentally sustainable economic policy. She also enjoys painting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing piano, eating, and event planning.

UCB Professor Lee Friedman

Professor Lee Friedman is another economist who works on environmental policy. He works on a broader range of topics, though, than Professor Hanemann, and his research tends to be more applied. He specializes in applied microeconomics and environmental markets. I am most interested in his work on pricing in the energy market and carbon market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He teaches a core GSPP class, the Economics of Public Policy Anaylsis.

Friday, July 8, 2011

UCB Professor Michael Hanemann

Professor Michael Hanemann is an economist who works on environmental policy. He is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Dr. Hanemann’s research interests include non-market valuation, environmental economics and policy, water pricing and management, demand modeling for market research and policy design, the economics of irreversibility and adaptive management, and welfare economics.


He is an expert in the economics of water, the valuation and the demand of water. I would be more interested in applying his techniques to other material resources, though. On the one hand, according to standard environmental economics analysis, my drive to reduce the use of other material resources is to minimize the negative externality of pollution or climate change. However, I feel it is more than that. I suppose that fundamentally I feel that exponential increases in material resource use is a problem. I also think that improving supply chain is an insufficient solution. It only seeks to make resource use efficient, but there is no mechanism to ultimately constrain it. Even so, it's a necessary first step.

UCB Assistant Professor Margaret Taylor

Another faculty member who works on environmental policy and technology is Margaret Taylor. Her line of research has lately been about technology push and demand pull policies. She studies how policies can effectively achieve environmental goals through supporting technological innovation.

She works with the climate modeling community as well. It seems that climate and technology modeling becomes important to all environmental policy work.

I'm not sure what the defining differences are between her and Dan Kammen. It seems that they don't work together. I wonder if they have opposing perspectives or there is just no interest overlap.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

UCB Professor Dan Kammen

Another professor who works on environmental policy is Dan Kammen. He is also a professor in the Energy and Resources Group, and he is the director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, which seems to be pretty well funded. He actually has a background in physics.

Dr. Kammen's research interests include: the science, engineering, management, and dissemination of renewable energy systems; health and environmental impacts of energy generation and use; rural resource management, including issues of gender and ethnicity; international R&D policy, climate change; and energy forecasting and risk analysis.


I need to find out more about his research on engineering management. The dissemination of renewable energy systems is appealing because those policies and projects could be implemented immediately. However, part of me wants to work on projects that are more general in scope.

There is a project in RAEL on clean energy financing that is well-aligned with my interests. Maybe I could work with that group.

Professor Kammen teaches a GSPP class that has been highly recommended called Energy and Society.

Bill Clinton on the Debt

Obama has been really bad at explaining the debt limit issue and even worse at building a case for just raising it without spending cuts or more taxes. No one articulates the issues about fiscal policy better than Bill Clinton, though! Bring back the triangulation!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UCB Professor Richard Norgaard

Professor Richard Norgaard is one faculty at UCB whose work I am excited by. He is a founder of ecological economics and an Energy and Resources Group professor.

Among the founders of the field of ecological economics, his recent research addresses how environmental problems challenge scientific understanding and the policy process, how ecologists and economists understand systems differently, and how globalization affects environmental governance. He has field experience in the Alaska, Brazil, California, and Vietnam with minor forays in other parts of the globe.


His research seems to be more focused on the interactions of social systems, science, and governance than on the economic impacts of policies or setting up markets for managing resources. That may just be a more recent focus, though. He has written a lot about a coevolutionary interpretation of ecological civilization. This is the concept that the evolution of a species is the aggregate of the evolution of our values, knowledge, organization, technology, and environment. I am not sure how this line of research can help us evolve towards environmental sustainability or even how to conduct this research in a rigorous way, but it is an interesting concept.

Gorillaz!

Favorite song of the moment

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Today my mom and I went to Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, Fl to hang out and watch fireworks. It was like a fair like on Memorial Drive in Boston. We got to sit on a dock, which was almost right under the fireworks! I hope the economy can keep getting better and that we can have more responsible policy-making. Just have to keep pushing...

Drawings of Smark's brother and his wife

These are actually from Christmas last year. They're about 2 feet wide. As you can see, his brother likes cello and his wife likes Disney!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Oh yeah, it's my Birthday

I keep forgetting and then remembering it's my birthday today (July 3). I never really feel like it's anything special, but I bought some clothes for myself. Anthropologie was having a crazy awesome sale.

Building the Case: Get Rid of Unnecessary Tax Breaks

Executive compensation is back up: it's a lot!

Equilar, an executive compensation data firm has found that median compensation for top executives at 200 big companies increased 23% from 2009 from $9.3 million to $10.8 million. Big executive payers are media companies, oil and commodities, and technology companies. As many people are aware, most workers are not getting raises this year and have not been getting raises for the past few years. Unemployment is still high. Profits are supposedly up, but it must be up for some sectors or maybe for large companies but still low for others. Profits on paper are also not necessarily a good indicator of how well a company is doing financially.

President Obama and the democratic party have thrown down the gauntlet about putting taxes on the table to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. I hope that people start paying attention to how well executives and certain corporations are doing so that we get tax policies that make sense. Not every tax break is good because not everyone needs a tax break. When people who don't need tax breaks get one, there is a hole in the revenues that needs to be filled by someone else's taxes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Berkeley People

I've been doing some research on faculty at Berkeley I am interested in. When I get there I'll probably try to take some classes or seminars with them and see if they have any openings for research positions.

W. Michael Hanemann

Richard Norgaard

Daniel M. Kammen

Margaret Taylor

Lee S. Friedman

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Environment and Labor Classes at UC Berkeley

I am starting to look at interesting classes I'm interested in at Berkeley.

The Governance of Global Production would be pretty interesting.

This graduate seminar explores critical policy and theoretical questions regarding the governance of global production. The seminar engages current trends in the restructuring of industrial production, distributions of environmental, labor, and social impacts from this production, and new strategies for democratic governance. The course presents existing theories of regulation and governance, assesses market and state “failures,” and critically analyzes emerging responses to the limits of traditional regulation. Using cases from the wood products, electronics, garments, shoes, coffee, food, chemicals, and oil industries, the seminar explores the potentials and limitations of new governance strategies, including: corporate voluntary self-regulation, codes of conduct, multi-stakeholder monitoring systems, certification and labeling schemes, fair trade programs, transparency and reporting initiatives, legal strategies, and international accords and agreements. The course seeks to evaluate why these new institutions and policies have emerged, how they function, and when and under what conditions they can be effective in mitigating environmental, labor, or social impacts of production

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Visitors

Last week Amandar and Smark came to visit me in Florida. Here we are with the photographer's dog!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not Outside Enough

Why I have bad eyesight

I KNEW IT

Although, I have to say, it's not like I never played outside. I used to play tag all the time. But I did not play any sports so I guess it wasn't enough. I don't wish I played sports as a kid, though.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Environmental Policy Research Interests

I am planning on approaching some professors at UC Berkeley about research positions. I think I might want to try to sample different projects so that I can get more experience.

I think I am most interested in environmental finance, technology policy, and wealth inequality.

Environmental finance
One thing I've been interested in for a while is the impact of cash flow constraints on environmental resource use in private industry. I think that we could use data from the 2008 financial crisis and look at changes in resource use. There has been a lot of focus on the impact on labor (unemployment) but not labor, energy, and resource use together. I am not sure what results I am expecting. We know that resource use went down, but the question would be whether all the decrease was due to lack of demand, lack of cash flow, relative surplus of labor, or shift in technological development.

Some more conventional lines of research in environmental finance would be evaluating asset and stock pricing according to environmental impacts, defining new financial instruments to fund sustainable business, and evaluating the impact of different accounting practices on environmental asset prices.

The kind of business I am most interested in financing are solar and wind power manufacturing, transportation projects, energy efficient appliance manufacturing, and building projects.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2012 Popularity Contest

Candidates are starting to prepare for the 2012 US Presidential election.

One thing that bothers me is how candidates like to talk about "common sense," and voters say they want someone who has "common sense." Yes, we do want someone who is rational who has priorities aligned with voters' interests, but when people start making policy recommendations it is clear that they are in over their heads. This is especially true when talking about fiscal and monetary policy. A lot of economic policy is actually really technical. There are a lot of qualitative decisions about how to tackle income inequality and long term goals for research or education. However, things like tax rates, budget cuts, and determining interest rates require careful quantitative analysis, not "common sense."

Saying we need a president who just has "common sense" is as ridiculous as saying that we can design a cell-phone using "common sense." Who needs an engineering Phd??? Obviously we just need an antenna, some kind of processor, a screen, a battery, and some buttons. How hard can that be? MikeyP said people would call for "faster radiowaves." Really, that is exactly the kind of thing nontechnical people say when making engineering suggestions.

We need expertise not "common sense." Voters only seem to appreciate this when it comes to national security issues and foreign policy. When will it apply to domestic policy?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Backstory : Aggressive Accounting

These days I've also been reading The Great Unraveling by Paul Krugman. It is his NYT columns from 2000-2002 mostly about how bad George W. Bush is. Today I was reading his columns about aggressive accounting and corporate governance. There are two things of note.

In 1995, Congress overrode a veto by Bill Clinton to pass the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which made lawsuits against companies and auditors "that engaged in sharp accounting practices."

In 1997-2000, after-tax profits stalled, but the S&P 500, the profits reported to investors grew 46%. Krugman attributes this to the changes in management theory and the advent of "principal-agent" theory. What's sad is that it is a well-meaning idea where managers' pay depends strongly on stock prices so that they have more accountability. I can see how before it may have seemed like managers were inefficient, maybe sometimes too generous to employees, and maybe out of touch with the needs of the company since they did not have as much invested in their own companies. Unfortunately, tying their compensation to stock prices gives them a big incentive to artificially boost those prices regardless of actual performance. The problem is that the real performance of a company will always be somewhat qualitative. It will always be some kind of combination of factors. Any quantitative measure can always be manipulated. That is something Deming said, too.

We are still trying to deal with the effects of these issues today. Back in 2001 I was still in high school and I had no idea who Paul Krugman was. All these things were happening, but I didn't really know. I just knew that Reaganomics and tax cuts are irresponsible. It is kind of weird to get the back-story now, especially knowing that I was there, too. It is a different sensation from reading about things that happened longer ago or in different countries. I am glad that I think I will have a better understanding of things happening going forward, but it's also a little strange knowing that millions of other people will continue to be unaware and just minding their own business as I was.

Economic Growth Theory vs Prosperity Without Growth

In Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson, a member of the UK Sustainability Commission, presents a potential problem with the need for a constant rate of economic growth. I summarize his analysis in this review. In economics textbooks, growth is necessary and highly desirable to increase everyone's standard of living.

In economic theory, output is a function of capital, labor, and the state of technology.

Y=f(K,N,A)

However, it's generally rewritten as Y/AN=f(K/AN)

I=S -> I/AN = sY/AN = sf(K/AN)

If d = capital depreciation

Kt+1/AN = (1-d)Kt/AN + sf(K/AN)

Kt+1/AN-Kt/AN = sf(K/AN)-dKt/AN = 0 in steady state

sf(Kt/AN) = dKt/AN = I

if technology grows gA percent a year and the population grows by gN, then total investment must grow by d+gA+gN

Output must grow for investment to grow. In Prosperity Without Growth, Jackson points out that resource efficiency must grow faster than output, which implies output growth must become completely decoupled from resource use at some point. How can we do this? New business models? New technology? Information technology? Entertainment?

Economics 101: Investment and Capital Accumulation

This is the generally accepted theory that leads to the need for output growth to maintain a steady state economy and non-increasing unemployment.

The first step is agreeing that output (Y) depends on capital and labor. Capital (K) is the stock of existing machines and plants in the economy. Ok, I can see that. To make things simpler, the theory is commonly presented in terms of output per unit labor and capital per labor.

Y/N=f(K/N)

The next step is equating investment with savings. I=S. Then establish that savings is proportional with the output. Then

I=sY

Saving is done on the household level. Firms do the investment. The reason they are equal is because of the IS relation, where S=Y-C and Y=C+I. It is a little confusing about what this means on a practical level. When people buy stocks is that consumption or investment or saving? I think according to economic theory, it's consumption. Banks can lend money so that firms and people can actually consume more than they make. Could tuition be considered investment? Anyway, it seems difficult to really measure investment vs savings vs output since most businesses serve other businesses as well as people. Is all business spending considered investment? What if businesses save, too, instead of reinvesting all their profit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shoe Decision

I am trying to decide on a dress shoe.

It's between this shoe by Naturalizer



and this other shoe by Enzo Angiolini



The shoe by Naturalizer is supposed to be more comfortable, but the other shoe looks so much more stylish, and it sounds like the brand Enzo Angiolini is pretty good about comfort, especially for narrow feet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Culture vs Logic in Decision-Making

In today's world, we generally think of ourselves as making decisions based on information. Even if our decisions aren't always rational, they are at least based on some kind of rationale. Decisions such as what to eat and drink, what car to get, what career to pursue, what cleaning products to use, where to live, and what to wear. The information technology boom has made it even easier for people to share product reviews, compare prices, and also see what decisions your friends have made. Even so, it seems like people know less and less about how things are made and how companies are run. Then, many decisions are made based on simply price and personal preferences. In the past, and certainly in older societies such as China and European countries, strong cultural norms drive many decisions. In particular, what to eat and when to eat it are emphasized in every culture.

The vast majority of us are very removed from the agriculture industry. In Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan explains how things are done now compared to how things were done before. He also explains why we need to eat healthy foods and what things are healthy. For example, traditional methods of growing crops and raising animals had very little waste because the outputs of one process are the inputs to the next process. The book is compelling today precisely because it is so rational and driven by information. On the one hand, we must embrace information driven decision-making and work to make even more information readily available to the general public. On the other hand, I feel that a lot wisdom used to exist in the form of "culture" or "conventional wisdom," and culture is still a good venue for guidelines and rules-of-thumb.

What consumer have to work with right now are prices, advertising, and certifications such as USDA Organic. The fact that certifications are so popular is a very positive sign. However, it would be too cumbersome for all the different practices of a farm or other company needed to have certification. Also, binary nature of the certificates give companies an incentive to only meet the minimum standards. One solution is to have ratings based on more categories and have gradations. For example, college rankings are done based on several metrics such as academics, faculty/student ratio, student life, amenities, etc. I think it would be better, though, to crowd-source the rating system, perhaps even with locations and pictures of the actual farms.

The amount of information needed is immense. The main advantage of culture is that information is not needed. You don't know to know exactly why processed foods are unhealthy if your culture simply dictates the need for fresh foods in your diet. This lack of information is also the great weakness of culture, though, and there are many outdated and wrong practices that continue for decades and perhaps centuries. In today's world, things change quickly. New technologies can lead to new practices. Companies change their practices. Ideally, there should be a tool for consumers to rapidly create new cultural practices that are backed with sound reasonings. Something that can influence people's decision-making that does not involve them reading a book could be very useful for everyone.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nobel Laureate Peter Diamond Withdraws Nomination from Fed Board

MIT professor Peter Diamond withdrew his nomination from Federal Reserve Board today and wrote an op-ed in the NYT. Republicans blocked his nomination ostensibly because they thought he did not have enough expertise in monetary policy.

Peter Diamond's specialty is macroeconomics and the labor market. His Nobel Prize was for his research on search costs in the labor market. Monetary policy is intricately linked with unemployment. In fact, perhaps the primary purpose of monetary policy is to maximize the number of well-paid jobs in the American economy. I just finished reading the core of the macroeconomics textbook so now I really see just how integrated employment and monetary policy are. It would be like telling someone they don't know enough about current because their expertise is in measuring resistance.

It really seems like such a travesty that someone like Peter Diamond can't even get nominated. It really discredits the idea that the confirmation process is merit-based. Also, from seeing him talk, I really get the sense that he is really such a professional, not an activist or a partisan. I am embarrassed that he is treated this way.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Testing Batteries

Nice overview on battery performance specs. I'm testing Lithium Polymer batteries for work. I also need to come up with a system for the production team to check batteries for degradation.

The Only Economics Class

Many people agree that it would be good for everyone to take an economics course in high school or in college. Usually, introductory economics courses only cover microeconomics, though. I have just gone through the core of the Macroeconomics textbook used in 14.02 (Principles of Macroeconomics at MIT). I think it would be more useful for the first economics course that people take to cover primarily macroeconomics, especially if it's going to be the only course in economics they ever take. The topics in microeconomics that should be covered are the supply and demand curves, the concept of marginal utility, and the production function. The rest of the course should be about macroeconomics. Macroeconomics would help people to better understand fiscal and monetary policy and how they impact unemployment and inflation. This would help people have a better understanding of current events and be informed voters.

The problem when people only take microeconomics is that people try to use the very simplistic results to make policy decision. For example, people conclude that markets are the most efficient methods to allocate resources so there should be fewer regulations. Price ceilings and floors always add deadweight loss so those should never be used either. Theoretical and empirical results from macroeconomics are much more directly applicable to explaining everyday events and informing policy decisions.

Friday, June 3, 2011

China's Environment in the News

Never good news, but at least they admit it.

China Faces ‘Very Grave’ Environmental Situation, Officials Say

Plan for China’s Water Crisis Spurs Concern

In order to feed the growing water needs of northern China, they are planning on diverting water from the ChangJiang River to the Yellow River. It is a very weighty decision that will have huge ecological and human impacts. People tend to forget that inaction and other alternatives also have huge ecological and human impacts. It is upsetting to read so much righteous comments from NYT readers when American per capita water use is so much more than China's. In fact, many American states, most notably California, face major water shortages. America's population is much lower, is much wealthier, and yet we still have problems and many do not even admit it. Many Americans still do not believe in climate change.

Narcissism

Funny but actually a little chilling article about narcissism in Chinese women and what it means for their Western boyfriends. Haha

Some of the traits hit close to home such as "Has constant fantasies of unlimited success, money and power," and I think sometimes I do lack empathy, usually when I think someone did something stupid, which is quite often. I also know I have the ability to be manipulative, but I consciously decide not to do it most of the time. Contrary to narcissistic behavior, though, I feel like I usually am empathetic and I can take criticism. In fact, I think I have quite thick skin. I also feel I have already overcome some other negative aspects of narcissism such as the depression, low self-esteem, and needing affirmation of my self-worth.

Consequences in relationships include "Only seeking men who are perceived as powerful, influential, extremely handsome, well-educated and unique." Also "will engage in constant power struggles or will always need to prove she is right. Closet narcissists are usually very distrustful and devaluing of other women, mostly or entirely have male friends." Actually I have a good number of female friends, but I do tend to be initially distrustful or competitive, especially with attractive women.

The author describes China as a matriarchal society. "In public, I will give my future husband 'face'. I will not argue with him or yell back at him, but, in the house, I am the boss. I will tell him what to eat and what to wear and he will have to listen to me."

Most relevant to me. Ruh Roh

In this context, many Western men, soon after intentions of marriage have been discussed, or, at the very least, once the girl has achieved a certain level of security in the relationship, report how Chinese women metamorphosize into partners who are controlling, domineering and hypercritical. Love and concern are often expressed in a manner that we would refer to as both critical and overbearing. Feelings of love and concern will be expressed with, for example: "Why did you wash your hands before flushing the toilet? You are supposed to wash your hands after you flush the toilet"; "Why did you leave the light on in the bathroom. Are you using it now?" and; "You better do a good job or they won't ask you back!" If you can understand and accept these very common types of condescending admonishments from your Chinese girlfriend or wife as "true love," then you are a better man (certainly a more accepting and patient one) than most.


I was recently getting worried about getting too naggy with little "tips" like those above. Actually it's a little creepy that the examples are close to things I've said before, but it's also hilarious.

Bottom line:
Thus, as a rule, foreign men who report the greatest degree of contentment in and satisfaction with their marriages to Chinese nationals are those who typically prefer being married to, and have deliberately sought out in the past, a strong-willed and dominant maternal-like figure.


Who knows, maybe it's just a silly article with some crank psychology. However, unfortunately I am sorry to admit that some of the behavior described does seem to be a trend with Chinese women such as myself.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learning Chinese Textbook

Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin, Elementary Level by Julian K. Wheatley

Julian Wheatley was the housemaster at EC when I was living there. He was always classy and a nice stabilizing force in the dorm.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bilingual Powers

Bilingualism helps people think. Maybe the population self-selects, though.

Monday, May 30, 2011

MIT Macro Panel: Duflo

Esther Duflo, a renowned MIT economics who works on development, also presented at the Macroeconomics Panel. Her main point was that asking big general questions such as "does aid work" is pointless because there is no way to empirically prove one way or another. Instead, she asks "what individual aid programs work?" She mentioned Avinash Dixit, who is another MIT economist who specializes more in econometrics, who seems to have influenced her a great deal. He had coined "MIT style theory" which seems to be modeling by example.

She had an interesting example of mosquito net use in Africa (I think Kenya). The question was whether to give away mosquito nets for free or to charge for them. Many were concerned that because of the "sunk cost fallacy" if people paid for them, they were more likely to use them as intended rather than as fishing nets or other uses. Also, if they got nets for free, they may be less likely to pay for nets in the future. However, the research showed that participation in using nets were much better when they were free, and furthermore that people were more likely to buy them in the future if they got the first one for free.

MIT Macro Panel: Conservatism in the Field

Robert Solow is one of the legends of the field, and he spoke at the Macroeconomics Panel at the MIT 150 Economics Symposium I posted about last week. He talked about the Keynesian foundations that were dominant in 1950-1970. Their development was originally based on observing empirical events. Then, in the 1970's with the oil shocks, macro lost a lot of credibility, and conservative ideology gained a strong foothold in the field. Also, there was a stronger motivation to move away from event-driven analysis and towards theoretical (mathematical) neatness.

It seems that conservatism and theoretical neatness still dominates the field today, although I wonder if the time is ripe for another shift. Even if it is, in practice, it seems that macroeconomists really only have two tools at their disposal, which is setting the interest rate and recommend fiscal policy. Even then, the only one economists have direct control over is setting the interest rate.

It is possible there are other tools that can be developed. There was a discussion on the panel about future research in macroeconomics. Better understanding the components of total factor productivity was one of them. There are two approaches which are to endogenize human capital or technological development (or both). Understanding how to model technological growth would be important for developing responsible environmental economies. However, there are also more direct ways to do that, such as researching the effectiveness of policies that promote environmental technological development.

Financial Innovation

Now I'm watching the Financial Innovation panel from the MIT 150 Economics symposium.

MIT Tech TV

Doctors Lean Left

Since fewer doctors are owning their own practices, they are becoming more interested in patient care than low taxes and malpractice insurance. They are becoming less conservative as a group according to an NYT article.

Friday, May 27, 2011

MIT Macroeconomics Symposium

I'm watching this video from the MIT 150 Economics Symposium back in January about the development of macroeconomics. It helps to watch it several times as I learn more about macroeconomics from reading and talking to friends who are economists. I get a little bit more out of it each time. I'm looking for guidance and inspiration for possible research topics or other projects.

MIT Tech TV

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

没有人想当工程师

今天我看见有一篇文章解释为什么有很多美国大学生不要做工程师。搂住说是应为工程学校太严格,不给学生补课,学生更不上就拉倒。可是在美国,唯一的原因大概就是做医生,律师,经纪人,和生意挣的钱多,人家也比较尊敬你。

Trustmark for Boosting Wind Power

There was an interesting article in Fast Company about Vestas, which is promoting a trustmark, WindMade.

In order for consumers to account for the externalities of business such as environmental damage, more information is needed about products other than just quality and price. That is why certifications such as Energy Star, USDA Organic, and Fair Trade will be increasingly important for helping consumers make decisions about products and business models. How can this be implemented? Third party certification and reviews may become a bigger industry. On the other hand, this might be expensive for the consumer as well as small businesses. It would be an additional barrier to entry for a startup, which is not necessarily something we'd want. It would be desirable to achieve greater transparency without the extra cost.

Bryan Newbold on the Internet

Apparently he is Octopart's first employee!

Adaptation in Chicago

Chicago city planners are already making preparations for a different climate because of global warming.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New CoLab Contest

2011 CoLab contest is on its way. This time people have more time to work on the proposals, which should be nice. Hopefully I'll have time to participate.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Propheting From the Rapture

The world was supposed to have ended yesterday with millions of people disappearing and earthquakes and other calamities for the rest of us.

I mainly am curious about what those believers think now.

The sad part is that many of them drained their savings account purchasing ads for the end of the world, stopped saving for their children's college, quit their jobs, and sold their homes. As per usual, probably the state will have to take care of these people now so the stupidity is actually costly to the rest of us, too.

Obama MidEast Speech

Obama stated explicitly that negotiations between Israel and Palestine should start from the 1967 borders. Now there is a lively discussion in the Jewish American community about it.

Obama speaks at AIPAC

I think this is a positive development. Even though he has not said anything drastically different from what has been implied by many administrations, making this explicit has actually added information. Before, each side believed what they wanted to hear so that they could pretend that they agreed.

Datamoshing

Amanda posted this on facebook. It's cool cuz it's neeerrrdy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Make Gas Cheaper

Obama throws Big Oil a bone. I haven't really looked into the details, but of course I'm skeptical that it will even reduce prices. I am also concerned that reducing gas prices will further delay innovation and investment in clean technologies.

Future Labor Force of America

NYT article about how little college kids study these days. They cite the research of Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks. The NYT article mentions Pell Grants may be partly responsible, but actually their research paper doesn't mention Pell Grants at all. The NYT article also suggests some "easy fixes" although the paper does not explore possible fixes. At any rate, the research is pretty interesting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

需要安排出优先顺序

很多人在工作里不会安排出优先顺序。 怪不得很多公司有那么多小老板。

Friday, May 13, 2011

Switching Coasts

I've been on the east coast ever since I moved to Boston in 2003. Right now I'm on the southern east coast, Jupiter, Florida. In the fall, I'm moving to Berkeley to attend the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. I am switching coasts and also switching fields.

We are faced with huge environmental challenges with an ever growing human population. Environmental issues are deeply entwined with economic issues, prices, employment, agriculture, etc. I found that as an engineer I have only limited tools. Plus, many worthwhile projects are only in their incipient stages. Much more cooperation between communities, governments, and businesses is needed for such projects to get financial support, legal support, and popular support to gain more momentum.

I am most interested right now in finance for environmental projects and new business models for an environmentally responsible economy. Are there legislation or standards that can help provide businesses as well as consumers with information or incentives to make better decisions? I am interested in working with Professor Lee Friedman, but I still need to explore other professors, too. I am hoping to go into academia or at least get a PhD in policy or economics. However, I am also interested in consulting, starting businesses, or even working in government. It all depends on what I find my strengths are best suited for and also what I think is most worthwhile.

There are definitely a lot of opportunities in the Bay Area for environmental issues so that's really exciting. The food is also going to be great, especially compared to Florida. You would think that a place that is so close to the food production would have better food. I am going to be living with old friends and living near other old friends. I am hoping to be able to do some urban gardening and get better at biking while I'm there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chinese Internet

Cool article in The Fast Company magazine

It's fun to read about ambitious people in China. It is also interesting to see how the general public in China has sculpted the web landscape.

(Yes, this magazine was in the Cruftlabs bathroom)

最近

我去年申请了研究生院。 我被UC Berkeley 录取了。我很激动,打算去Berkeley.

translation : I'm going to UC Berkeley! More on this later.

No More Bin Laden

But there are some systemic causes to terrorism that still need to be addressed.

Friedman's most recent op-ed gives some more background about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

I visited Boston this weekend for Mother's Day, but actually mainly to move my things from my roommates' apartment to my mom's place. I also saw a lot of friends so it was really nice. I ate dinner at my mom's house Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in order to maximize the intake of good Chinese food. I needed to stock up for Florida.

So my mom complained that American mothers get breakfast in bed but she has to cook so actually every other day is Mother's Day for her. I felt a little bad, but at the same time, I think making food for me is the primary way my mom shows that she cares. On the other hand, maybe that is just because it's the primary way that I can accept affection from my mom. At any rate, I think we all had a good time.

turtles in space!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

hotel yang!

I'm encouraging my friends to visit me while I'm in this nice vacation home in Florida. I have so many towels and bedding. Last weekend, I tried to go to the shuttle launch, but it got delayed again. But it was ok because it lured Jenny Hu to Florida along with other interesting people that I got to meet.

Jenny Hu looking stylish. We even went shopping and she bought a dress! I forgot to take pictures, though. Oh well. I'm sure there will be evidence presently.


A sea turtle in a "hospital tank" at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. It is a turtle rescue center and museum. It has an upbeat atmosphere, but actually many exhibits made me sad, especially as a proponent of environmental sustainability. It made me feel like we still have so much to do. Reducing human impacts on other species and habitats requires so much cooperation from people. Around West Palm Beach, so many condos and strip malls are named Loggerhead this Loggerhead that, and yet they are still endangered. It is frustrating that other people don't seem embarrassed about this or feel the irony. I am going to try to go volunteer sometimes to meet new people and learn more about Florida's environmental management.


Hu is in my living room

Monday, May 2, 2011

picture for jenny hu


This is a painting I did last week. Jenny Hu came to visit, and we went to the beach. We saw manatees! We were actually sitting on the beach at the time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Friends visiting




Picture updates






I'll need to write a real post sometime.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

In Florida

I'm working in Florida for at least another month at an RFID startup. They provide hardware and a software service to help the food industry and other consumer goods industries with ways to track their products as they get shipped. So far it's been pretty fun, but they certainly need a lot of help with design as well as management, in my opinion, especially since the schedule is extremely tight.

Here are some pics.




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Barbizon School of Painting at Galerie Michael

In LA, we stumbled upon Galerie Michael, which sells museum quality work. They had an exhibition of the predecessors of impressionists. Some of them looked really nice, better than a museum collection, but maybe it's just because the museums always have the same few paintings. I think it was interesting to see paintings that are in between two well-known styles, Impressionism and Realism.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ian Bremmer on US China relations

Interesting clip from the Wall Street Journal. Americans are becoming much more knowledgeable about China, but things are also changing fast.

American Architects Go to China

NYT article
Architects Find Their Dream Client, in China

What can explain why Chinese developers seem to be bolder with designs? Maybe it is just because they have more money? Maybe there is less liability legally? Maybe they are just in a good mood.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lynn at Problogger!

Lynn is one of the 40 Bloggers to Watch in 2011

her blog is Upcycled Love

Wow! She used to blog here before she started up her own blog!

New Products at Electronica Trade Show

EDN has an interesting article IC Vendors Seek Green Applications

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Truth is Out

A Chinese Yale law professor wrote about how she raised her two daughters in a book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The Wall Street Journal posted an excerpt.

Americans are horrified, and many Chinese people raised this way have come out to denounce the way they were raised. However, given that the vast majority of Chinese Americans were raised this way, I'm surprised there haven't been more supportive comments.

It is somewhat amusing to me to see all the negative comments from American parents because it's like they have no idea how prevalent this is. Plus, those kids are the ones edging out American kids for college, graduate school, club leadership, and jobs.

Being raised this way was certainly hard and depressing. However, as time has passed, I've become much more supportive of how I was raised. At least, I feel like there were some major benefits and there doesn't seem to have been much permanent damage. It hasn't made me chronically depressed, unstable, or robotic. I think it is a major factor in raising people who are independent, self-reliant, and responsible. Even if people still have personality flaws, at least they are generally not a burden to their family or friends. For many people, it seems to have made people less sensitive to criticism and more easily accept that there is room for self-improvement. The truth is that after going through that upbringing, you realize that the biggest obstacle to achieving something is not having thought of a goal yet. If you fundamentally believe that you are capable of achieving anything you want with hard work, then you can be more creative or ambitious with your plans. For me, my upbringing may have made it easier for me to feel like I have control of my destiny. At the time I felt it was a burden to have to always defend my decisions and explain why I wanted to do something, but now it seems like maybe it was good practice because it only gets tougher in "the real world."

I think I'm reacting strongly because many people are complaining about aspects of the harsh parenting style that are really not the worst parts. I don't think it really stifles creativity, makes robots, or stunts social skills. Not going to sleep overs, playing piano, getting all A's, and not watching TV was not a really big deal. Being called "stupid" or "lazy" made me angry sometimes, but even that's not what really got to me. The most frustrating and degrading part is feeling like there is no way to avoid being yelled at. It is especially irritating if I didn't feel like I was given enough time or help to improve. I just felt it was not fair. The other part of my upbringing that was harmful was feeling like my parents did not trust me. I think this lack of trust damaged my self-esteem more than the language. It also made it difficult to trust other people. I don't think that this is a necessary part of being strict. It has taken me a few years to deal with the negative aspects of my upbringing. Now I'm in my twenties and feel more emotionally stable and ambitious than ever, though, so I suppose it has mostly worked out after all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Energy futures week

Next week is Energy Futures Week at MIT, and the focus is on energy efficiency this year. I will be trying to go to as many events as possible to learn, network, and get a job.

MIT Economics Symposium

I am planning on going to this Symposium on Economics and Finance : From Theory to Practice To Policy Thursday, January 27 and Friday, January 28.

It is part of the celebration of MIT's 150th year of existence.

I am most interested in:
1.) The Evolution of Economic Science: Macroeconomics, Growth, and Development, featuring panelists Peter Diamond and Robert Solow along with moderator Daron Acemoglu.

2.) Economic Policy Challenges: Macroeconomics and Fiscal Policy, featuring Olivier Blanchard, Paul Krugman, and Cristina Romer along with moderator Roberto Caballero

3.) Economic Policy Challenges: Microeconomics and Regulation

Talks about finance will be featured on the second day. I don't know much about finance, but I have a feeling it will be important to learn for environmental policy even though it may not seem relevant right now.

Green China Rising - September 2011



Really interesting documentary. Maybe China will be the place to work on environmental policy because of the receptiveness of its politicians and citizens.

Their website at www.RedHotGreenChina.com

Some Holiday Cards I drew




Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Autobiography of Yang Ruan

Haha, I wrote this in seventh grade as a part of a poster about myself.

My name is Yang Ruan, and my life began in Shanghai, China, July 3, 1985. I lived my first four years in China, and then came to St. Louis. I am twelve years old, and I'm turning thirteen next year.

I love reading, and my favorite books are "Lisa Light and Dark," "The Westing Game," "The Only Alien on the Planet," and "Silent Storm." One thing I noticed is that in most of the books I read, the main character or one of the main characters are disabled. In "Lisa Light and Dark" Lisa is slowly going crazy and needs help desperately. In "The Only Alien on the Planet" Smitty is a genius, but he doesn't talk or have any expressions. In "The Westing Game" the characters are just weird. In "The Silent Storm" Alyssa is mute. I do not like stories in which the plot is pointless and is about somebody's personal problems.

I also love drawing. I love projects that have to do with art. I like using colored pencils the most. Paint is hard to control, markers are sloppy, crayons have too much wax, and pastels get all over you.

I am not good at many sports. The only sport that I'm good at is ping-pong. The sports that I like but are not very good at are badminton, softball, and kickball.

I love animals of all kinds especially cats, horses, foxes, and rabbits. My favorites are cats because they are slick, graceful, menacing, soft, alert, independent, and intelligent. Many people are adore dogs. I like dogs, but I prefer cats because dogs drool too much and they all over you and they are too loud. I love drawing animals. They look so soft, furry, and just plain cuddly.

My favorite subjects in school are Math, Reading, and Fine Arts. I like playing Equations, which is a math game. I love that game! You do not even have to be good at math to be good at it. My Equations team, the J.E.R.K.s (Junior Educated Radical Kids), have already won two seconds place ribbons, and one third place ribbon. We hope to get a first place trophy someday.

I am a very positive person, and very happy. I don't get put down very easily, and if i"m depressed I usually hide it so nobody can really tell and nobody else will be depressed along with me. Sometimes I am patient, sometimes I am very impatient, but I never try to be someone else. I'm content with the way I am, and I feel that the only thing that I need to change would be my Language grade.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nice photos from holiday vacation in LA

the Getty Villa
Smark with his new prescription sunglasses
me at Topanga Canyon
Smark at Topanga canyon

I drew a Giant Smark Head



I drew this on vacation in LA and gave it to Smark's parents for Christmas. :)