Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Humans Are Dead

My UROP Proposal

I'm so funny. And I'm proud because I just made this up. (I mean, not exactly. I've already been working on this project for the past three weeks or so, but there wasn't really a well-defined mission statement so I made one up! But actually I think it's pretty good).

User Interface for Plants

Every society depends on agriculture. In the past, agriculture has been very labor intensive. Modern agriculture is highly mechanized and is now increasingly energy intensive. Many societies have gone from agrarian societies to industrial societies. As a result, more people now live in the cities and are no longer in touch with plants the way those who cultivate land. That is, farmers have ways of figuring out the water quality and soil quality of plants by reading the cues provided by the plants. Sometimes they plant things other than their crops that change color according to acidity or some other property. When a city dweller looks at a plant, he does not have the expertise to be able to read the state of a plant. My UROP would explore the relationship between humans and plants. In particular, I will be working on making the status of plants more accessible to urban dwellers.

Urban dwellers often don’t have the expertise or other resources to set up their plants such that the plants’ conditions can be read from carefully chosen indicators. Such a set up usually takes time to maintain, may require extra space, and tools. I will be working on systems that convey to people the state of the plants in an understandable way. It is essentially a user interface for plant hardware. My first objective is to create such a user interface for the sap flow of a plant. That is, how fast is a plant drinking? The data will be represented by audio clips of running water. A higher sap flow corresponds to an audio clip of faster running water. There could be many potential uses for these interfaces. One would be the development of smart agriculture. Plants that could adjust their own water qualities and soil qualities. This could make small-scale agriculture more viable so that people in cities may have small gardens. There may also be a way for plants to weed themselves and do pest control so that we won’t need to use pesticides. This is a very interesting project and I think it will be fruitful.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


after talking to jenny hu some more, i realized i should elaborate more on what the purpose of the sustainable lecture is, who exactly am i looking for to speak, and what i want them to talk about.

I'm most interested in getting the bigger picture on global sustainable development. China and India combined have a population of more than 2 billion people. Most of these people are not living at first world living conditions. For example, only around 10% of the population in China have living standards comparable to the rest of the developed world. That is, they have refrigerators, computers, air conditioning, gadgets, mattresses, washers, dryers, etc. The exponential demand on energy needs to be addressed and I think it's the next crucial challenge for the human race. I would like the speakers to comment on what needs to be done in their respective fields to sustain this demand. I'm not so interested in having scientists in to talk about the technical details of their research. I am very interested in economists, business-people, and policy makers because they are crucial to the bigger picture.

The two main trains of thought I want to chip away at are
1. Only people who are particularly caring or otherwise do-gooders go into sustainability careers.
2. The main obstacle to sustainability is lack of clean energy technology, and there's not a lot we can do until we get that.

In order to effectively tackle the energy and sustainability problem, it needs to be an attack on all fronts.

My target audience is primarily undergrads or generally people who have not yet decided on their career. Thus, I am looking for influential speakers, preferably someone who runs an undergrad course that is well-liked. The course itself doesn't have to have anything to do with sustainability. It's just so they have name-recognition, and students who respect them and like the way they speak. however, sustainability should be an important issue to them and it's something they're working on in their research.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sustainable Lecture

so the vision is to make the pursuit of sustainability jobs mainstream. i'm investigating the possibility of having a panel discussion on sustainability, the need, the projects, the business, the industry. we'd like to get one person from each major to talk about their part and how it relates to the bigger picture.

if you guys know anyone who would be good, that would be awesome

amy smith - d-lab
1 - david marks, environ/civil
3 - material science - sadaway (fuel cell)
4 - architecture
5 - chemistry
6 - ee/cs - leeb (power electronics)
10 - chem e - tester
11 - urban studies/planning
12 - earth planetary sciences - (geothermal heating/cooling systems)
14 - economics banerjee and duflo
15 - management/business (s-lab)
17 - political science
20 - bio engineering
22 - nuch e

tell me who to get!

fake bomb!

police are dumb but so are mit students

actually, i think she should have known people were going to freak out, but i cannot believe how the police still think it's a fake bomb. it's obviously not even trying to be a bomb.

MIT called it "reckless." i'm frankly disappointed at how unsupportive the school is.
i mean, even if it was stupid, couldn't they have just been like, it was a mistake, stop slandering our students. MIT brags about accomplishments of students like her, but then betrays them. lame.

also, i don't think tim robertson is her boyfriend. he's just a friend. oh well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

dreams addendum

last night i dreamed but in order to find out if i was dreaming or not i had to wake myself up. it was exciting.

i dreamed that i was riding a new kind of bus with my cat, charlene, and this girl who invented this new high-speed bus. this bus could accelerate to 1000 mph when going straight. in my dream, it really felt like i was on the bus. we started speeding up a hill. i could feel the momentum of being on a bus. i was thinking about what if we weren't able to slow down and we became airborne at the peak of the hill. we could get in a crash and i might actually die. but then how would i know i was dead? i figured that if i got a phone call on my cell phone from teddy (maybe it was franklin?) roosevelt, i would know i was dead because that would never happen in real life. so then i fall asleep on the bus or something. next thing i know, i was laying in a bed in a dark room next to the girl on the bus. we were sort of confused and weren't sure what had happened. then she realizes that she's dead. and i was like, really? am i dead? i notice that she has my cell phone in her hand, and i grab it, and i see that teddy roosevelt has called me. and i realize i'm dead. i jump out of bed, and walk around the room towards the door. there is a small refrigerator. the room was sort of like a hotel room. i was like, wow, i'm dead? this is awesome! i was really excited because death was like a continuation of life. i open the door, but this whole time i'm still not sure if it's real or i'm dreaming. so i opened my eyes and woke myself up, and alas, i wasn't really dead. oh well, maybe next time.

i really thought i was dead, though, and it was awesome.

last thought
infected mushroom was more rock than electronica. so that was a little disappointing, but it was still fun. we got to see alex grey paint there.

dream like yang!

realize you're dreaming and Take Over.

yang, you should run workshops too

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I would just like to express my greatest appreciation for Beirut, the band not the city. Beirut is sooo good! Wanna know how good? My alarm is Beirut and I STILL DON"T HATE THE SONG.

My alarm is set to "Scenic World" but "Elephant Gun" is a good one too, and it has video.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

converting vegetarians

we're going to an infected mushroom concert this weekend. i'll try to take pics

also, today was the first day of school! awwww...

it was awesome. although i think i really have a problem reading. i'd like to get a portable scanner so that i can scan in papers and have my computer read them to me.

one of my ta's is working on energy harvesting from waste heat. basically it is small scale combustion. he's working for my power electronics professor, steve leeb.

then i was shooting the shit with the smart cities group at the media lab and they're going to working on a vision of shanghai in 2030 to be presented in 2010. a futurama sponsored by gm. wow. they're going to be rethinking the architecture but also have a vision for a new kind of car. haha.

when people ask me what my field is, my new line is that i'm interested in developing tools for global sustainability. still working on a better way to explain what i mean by that.

Monday, September 3, 2007

affirmative action

this is an interesting article about how backlash to labor union activities brought on affirmative action. that is, labor unions historically supported racial discrimination against chinese and blacks.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

i met this girl in Portland who really loved photobooths. Like, we were at the Mirah show, but she was there b/c there was a photobooth. Like, she was driving cross country to visit photobooths. "Did you know the city of Portland only has TWO photobooths?" Also she hated digital photography and loved organic food but was really defensive about not being a vegetarian anymore. So the venue didn't allow smoking except for inside this little (not ventilated room) where i spent most of my time. Here's a picture of not the photobooth girl. This is me w/ some kids who really liked drugs and eventually found some by stopping someone on a bike at 4AM.

Portland has a great sense of humor. This is Mill Ends Park. Actually it is a flower pot in the middle of the street where a light pole was going to go but didn't. Some guy could see this park from his window and started writing a column about the leprechaun that lived in it. Later they made it an official city park. It is also in the Guinness Book of World Records as the worlds smallest park.

THIS GUY should be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the sweetest puppy in the world! He is sooo sweet.
Steve behind him is pretty cool too. Steve told us about this block party which turned out to be a joint 40th birthday bash for Chet and John. Chet is the drummer for the eels so he can party like a rockstar. Other rockstars were there. This one band that Kathy saw open for the Pipettes for example. When she saw them the first time though she didn't realize the oldest member was a 14 yr old girl. Smoosh rocked. Clowns from the Clown House performed as well as MarchForth Marching Band. Check it.

We met some cool people at the hostel as well. In fact, everyone we met at the hostel was more interesting than we were. My fav. roommate was Andreas. The singer from a German screamo band called "a dead letter theory." While he was in Portland, his first submission to the Toronto Film Festival was being played.

Yup. Here's a picture of my new piercing.

Ok. Bye bye.