Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA (Part 1)

In Los Angeles, we always drive from place to place because there aren't so many good places within walking distance of each other. So today I'm going to write about Sawtelle Blvd in West LA! So many great shops, restaurants and supermarkets line the few blocks along Sawtelle making it a really nice and manageable area to stroll around for a few hours. To list a few:

Starting with Brian's Shaved Ice. Brian's Shave Ice is really good Hawaiian shaved ice. Strangely, the name is Brian 'Shave' Ice. Which is kind of "Engrish-y" in my opinion. Well that aside, the shaved ice there is really good. Unlike most shaved ice places the ice is really smooth and has a velvety feel to it. It's not crunchy as some Taiwanese shaved ice is. (Those are good too). It's really great going to Brian's Shave Ice to share a large bowl with people on a hot day. It's usually really packed in the summer though!

Their Facebook:

Adding to great dessert places around Sawtelle, is Beard Papa's across the street from Brian's Shave Ice. They're going to open one near my house soon! Since I walk to school I'm probably going to get fat by picking up a cream puff every time I pass the store. Anyway, Beard Papa's is a Japanese cream puff place. They also sell a few cakes and whatnot, but they are famous for their cream puffs. They have vanilla, chocolate, coffee, green tea, strawberry, and so many more flavors for the filling in the cream puffs. Did people notice that Mr. Bear Papa was featured in one of my favorite movies, Wreck-It-Ralph!

Right next to Beard Papa's is Nijiya Supermarket. (2130 Sawtelle Blvd.) Nijiya is a great little Japanese supermarket. They sell really good authentic Japanese food and candy. We always love to go to Nijiya to buy a little bento box, rice bowl, sushi, or onigiri for lunch. The food is really fresh and delicious. Last time we went they were selling these really good Japanese pancakes called okonomiyaki. They were making them right outside the store. It was really good!

A few other restaurants and eateries we frequent on Sawtelle Blvd. are:

Coffee Tomo: (11309 Mississippi Ave. just off Sawtelle Blvd.)This is our new favorite place to get coffee. Their latte and affogado (vanilla icecream smothered in espresso) are to crave for. Not to diss Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf where we go to all the time, but this place really make a cup of lattee look beauteous.
Coffee Tomo Latte

Curry House: (2130 Sawtelle Blvd.) We blogged about this wonderful curry place on our Coolrice blog here.
Chabuya Ramen (2002 Sawtelle Blvd.): We blogged about this great ramen place earlier this year. Here.
Asahi Ramen: (2027 Sawtelle Blvd.) The original ramen place on Sawtelle. Old fashioned, but clean and good.
Tofu Ya: Best Korean soon tofu place west of Korea Town.
Little Hong Kong: Satisfying Cantonese style Chinese food.
Non La Cafe: 2055 Sawtelle Blvd. New Vietnamese restaurant that opened. Decore is really clean and modern. Food is good. We used to drive all the way up to Wilshire Blvd for Vietnamese Pho, or go all the way to the San Gabriel Valley, so this is a closer alternative for sure.
Hide Sushi: (2040 Sawtelle Blvd.) This has been open forever, and is still popular for sushi. You must bring cash though.
Volcano Tea: This place has the boba drink even compared to the ones in San Gabriel Valley. Read about it here.
Now that this blog has gotten long just describing some of the restaurants on Sawtelle Blvd., we will blog about the boutique stores on Sawtelle in our next blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Competition Made for Nerds: Robotics

This past weekend, I went with my school's robotics teams to participate in a VEX Robotics North San Diego Regionals Sack Attack Competition.  The Our school as 4 teams: Robocelots, Snoop Lions (my all girls team :D), Lynx-Sys, and Wild Tigers.  Each team had been working their robot for a while, so we were really excited to go on the trip.

At the last competition we went to, none of our teams were all that impressive.  My team's robot ended up being pretty decent, albeit small and kind of flimsy.  We ranked 18th out of 32 teams, which we weren't too happy with, but I guess we couldn't have expected much from our robot after having spent only a month or so on it.

For this competition, we scrapped our old robot and built a new one with the same general design. It's a lot bigger and sturdier now:
There's me awkwardly smiling for the camera...

And I guess that really helped us out a lot, because we ended up in 6th place by the time the alliance selections came around - and if you don't know this already, rank is super important when it comes to alliance selections, because the 8 teams get to pick their alliances.  So it was a big deal that 3 of our teams (Snoop Lions, Robocelots, and Lynx-sys) made it into the top 8.  Snoop Lions was ranked highest out of our school's teams.  The fact that we're one of the only all-girls teams around makes it even more awesome.
Yay!  I carried the robot everywhere.  My arms are sore now.

My team ended up picking another school's team as its alliance due to some confusion, while Lynx-sys and Robocelots partnerned.  Our quarterfinals match was against their alliance, and we ended up losing (but only by a little!).

 Do we look like the Witches of Eastwick?

That's okay, though, because then the Robocelots/Lynx-sys alliance ended up facing the number 1 and 3 ranked teams and got crushed in the semi-finals.

Even though we lost, the competition was so much fun.  We got to meet some really cool teams from other schools (including the 1st place team who crushed us) and it was just fun to hang out with each other.  I think that's the most important part: having fun.  It sounds cliche, I know, but it's really true.
All the teams!  Look at me, crouched in the front row and looking all cool.  It wasn't my idea.
Anyways, feel free to ask me any questions!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Asian Kids and Glasses

There was an article from a while back that 90 percent of Asian kids are nearsighted, probably because they spend so much time studying. This is sad, because most of my Asian friends are indeed nearsighted and wear glasses or contact lenses. In my family, both my parents are very nearsighted, probably from studying too much when they were kids. This doesn't bode well for us genetically. Strangely, my sister has near perfect eye sight. Like an old person though, she is slightly far sighted and occasionally needs reading glasses.

As for me,  I am mildly myopic, but ever since I was a kid, I use this treatment called "ortho-keratology" where I wear these corrective hard contact lenses when I go to sleep at night. The lenses shape my eyes during the night so that when I wake up in the morning, I have perfect vision for a day or two. The good thing about ortho-k is that during the day, I don't have to wear contacts or glasses, and I get to play basketball, or swim without having to worry about wearing glasses or taking contact lenses out. Ortho-k is also supposed to slow the progression of myopia, so hopefully I won't have eyesight as poor as my parents when I grow up.

My optometrist, Dr. Randall Yumori from the Pacific Eye Care Center is wonderful in helping me with the ortho-k lens fittings (because it take some careful examination to make sure the curvature of the ortho-k lenses are just right for my level of myopia.

Occasionally though, when I don't wear my contacts at night because my eyes are hurting, or when I forget to wear them for a couple of nights, I can't see so well in school. That's when I need a regular pair of glasses as back up. I go to Hourglass Optical in West Los Angeles for glasses. They have so many frames to try on, and the price is super reasonable. For my glasses, it took them 8 minutes to cut and put the lenses into the frame I selected. The owner, Kathy is wonderful in helping me select my glasses. She also happens to be our neighbor.
Okay, not the best picture of  me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our One Year Anniversary!

I'm always a bit late in general. Whether it's to basketball practice, school, or even birthday parties. At least I'm fashionably late.

Anyways it was our one year anniversary for Cool Asian Kids on November 18th. We were going to have a huge celebration and have giveaways....but laziness got in the way, as always.

But anyway, in this one year of blogging about what we like and do as Cool Asian Kids, we became more connected to what is happening around us via social media.  My sister and I were able to become more involved in things we wouldn't normally do. We were invited to volunteer at the Asian American V3Con. We were asked to guest blog for other sites and reviewed books, comics, movies, music, and electronic gadgets we liked. We even posted our own artwork on our blogsite for folks to enjoy.

By entering in contests and giveaways we discovered through sites that we follow, we got tickets to attend events such as the Asian American Film Festival and the Supply Cup soccer fundraiser hosted by KevJumba. Attending these events made us appreciate Asian American films and filmmakers, as well as socially conscious endeavors that Asian Americans were pursuing and promoting through social media. We are also tickled to learn that we were beginning to start a small following of our own.

We'd like to thank everyone who has been encouraging us and following us this year. We welcome any suggestions for our blog for the upcoming year and we hope to do some new things too to make our blog even better. So watch for updates regularly!

Cheers everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Electronic Gadgets and the 4G Network

As a result of volunteering at the V3Con social networking conference, we had the opportunity to test use Verizon's 4G network using a couple of awesome devices: The Samsung Galaxy S3 smart phone, and the Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet.

Here are some disclosures: For a couple of years now, because of my lack of self-control in using electronic gadgets, (I used to text and IM into the wee hours of the morning during school nights and once texted over 900 times a weekend when I had only a 1500 texts per month plan), we have parent imposed restrictions placed on all our cell phones and computers. While we have wifi access on our computers and tablets at home, only our dad has 3G access on his cell phone. The concept of unlimited data use and live tweeting from anywhere, anytime, was new to us until the Verizon 4G network was make available to us . . . temporarily.

Having unlimited access to test use the Verizon 4G network for a whole month was a dream. We used it for everything, from watching movies on Youtube, to using the GPS (and I especially needed it one time when we didn't know how to get to the gym my basketball game was at.), listening to music, to live tweeting my basketball tournament and the Supply Cup Soccer Tournament, and to promote our blogs from everywhere. We posted pictures we took, made movies of my robotics competition preparation. Even mom got excited over a new money saving activity: downloading ebooks and audiobooks from the Los Angeles Public Library so she doesn't have to buy books to read. The 4G network was faster than my dad's 3G network in terms of streaming programs from the internet. It was much faster than our wifi capabilities at home using Uverse.

As for the devices themselves, we split up reviewing them. Chloe reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S3 because she doesn't have a smartphone. I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy tablet 7.7 because I don't have a tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy S3: For a kid who has a dumb phone with only 250 talk minutes and 200 texts, this smart phone is quite an upgrade and an attention getter. I was happy to show off it's sleekness everywhere: at sleepovers, in school, and at parties. It's like going from driving a Prius to a Ferrari (not that I drive).  The moment I powered the phone on, I noticed that the screen resolution is beautiful. The phone's screen is huge and much larger than dad's iPhone 4s. Photographs taken with the phone are crisp and clear. It was so convenient to take a picture and tweet it immediately anywhere and anytime. As I mentioned, using the skills I learned from V3Con, I used the phone and Verizon's 4G network to live tweet and post pictures of my VFW Basketball tournament when we came in 2nd Place. I also used it o to live tweet and promote the charity Supply Cup Soccer Tournament hosted by Kev Jumba, and attended by some favorite Asian American stars: Dante Basco who plays Prince Zuko from Avatar, the Last Air Bender, Wong Fu Production guys, The Fung Brothers, etc. Since we blogged about those events, being able to promote them via Twitter also drove traffic to our blogs. Really cool.

I love the large size screen, but the size of the phone makes it hard to just slip it into my pocket and run about with it. I have to put it in my back pack, or worry that it might fall out of my pants pockets and break. I like Android keyboard swiping, and other convenient Android features. In some ways, I like the phone much better than the iPhone because the sound quality is great and the screen resolution is amazing! The phone is also really good for drawing on because of the big screen and the touch sensitivity. If I ever get a smart phone, I wouldn't mind getting the Samsung Galaxy S3. You can do so much with it without having to switch devices. As of this writing, I accidentally dropped my dumb phone in the school's girls toilet. It has not come back to life despite placing it in a bucket of rice for a couple of days as some online posts suggest I do. So, hint hint, mom and dad, I need a  new phone!

The  Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet: Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the screen resolution is excellent. It is so clear that the screen image on it looks like a photograph. This tablet is definitely smaller than the iPad 3 that Chloe uses for school. We have mixed feelings about this. I liked the smaller size because it is really convenient to be able to carry it around in a purse and bring it to school, or on a bus. The iPad is a bit too big for that. Putting the tablet on a shelf and using the 4G network to stream shows on this tablet, I can watch TV shows or movies while using the exercise bike. This made exercising quite pleasant.

However, the smaller screen size is also a drawback in the sense that everything appears a bit smaller on the screen.  While I'm okay with it, my parents complain that they need to wear reading glasses just to look at the news online using this tablet.  So I guess for older people, maybe the small size of the tablet is not so appealing. Otherwise, I think the tablet is quite good, although I haven't seen the new iPad mini yet, so I can't compare them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

High School Robotics

I don't know if you remember, but last year, Chloe was on her middle school Lego-League robotics team.  This year, the fun continues!  I (Eileen) am on one of the four high school VEX robotics teams at school.  I was actually not too happy about joining the team because it's pretty nerdy, and I didn't want to perpetuate the Asian nerd image. However, since I was a new student at my school last year, and didn't participate in anything school related, I did want to participate in some school activities this year.  I thought Robotics team would be the least time consuming because the course syllabus says two extra hours during the week and I knew I could handle that easily. . . until after I joined, I found out that I needed to be there every Saturday too, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  There go my weekends.

But it turns out I actually like the class and team a lot.  Many of my friends are on the team, so that probably helps! Because our school mascot is the wildcat, the team names are all supposed to be wildcat-related.  I'm on an all girls team called the Snoop-Lions!We also have a Lynx Sys, Robocelots, and Wild Tigers.

Our vex robot being built.

A few weeks ago, we went to the first competition of the year.  I've never been to a robotics competition before, but it's a lot of fun. It's a nerd fest.

This year's competition game is Sack-Attack, so we're basically supposed to build robots that can put as many sacks in the goals as possible within a given time frame.

Competition at Cabrillo High School
 ...Let's just say we didn't do so well this time.  It's okay!  Our next competition is the Vex Robotics regionals in San Diego (yay!, and because it's for two days, we'll stay in a hotel! Really exciting. It won't be for another month or so, so we'll have time to work on our new robot.  I'll post pictures of it when it's done!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Some of my friends are apparently getting too old for Halloween. Which is really sad to me. It's the only night you'd get free candy from strangers and get to dress up as the weirdest thing ever.

Ugly Doll or Gumby?
The people who aren't getting too old for Halloween don't dress up in very good costumes... I was talking to my friend about a quote from the movie "Mean Girls" where the main character says "Halloween is the only holiday where girls can dress as badly as they wanted to and not be called *****." Haha but the sad part is that...this is partially true. Girls in my school literally think it's okay to wear underwear-like clothes to school for Halloween. I would feel self conscious showing my butt like that.

But nonetheless, Halloween's pretty fun. I don't really eat candy that much, but it's a really fun holiday. I was watching one of my favorite shows "Gravity Falls" (My friends don't watch cartoons maybe I'm just lame.) and one episode was called Summerween. It was really good because Dipper (the main character) thinks that since he's older he should no longer Trick or Treat even though he and his twin sister Mabel always go together. Then the Summerween trickster comes along and Dipper has to go trick or treating in order to get 500 candies along with Mabel and some friends so they won't get killed.

Summerween episode of Gravity Falls

Anyways. I'm sort of digressing. Okay.  I have this sort of tradition where I make my own costumes. One year, I was a robot made out of cardboard boxes and chopsticks for antenna. Another year, I was a blue recycling bin (I wore 'Heelies' too so I can be wheeled around like a recycling bin). Last year I dressed up as a giant Ugly Doll (but people thought I was Gumby). I also have a tradition of always going with my friend to trick or treat in a neighborhood called Cheviot Hills, which (sadly has a lot of stairs) and even sadder, I have a tradition of tripping over those stairs and not being able to walk very well in my costumes.

This year, I made a Finn hat, and I'm going to be Finn from Adventure Time.

 Hope you all have a great Halloween tonight!

Oh, and I designed some Halloween buttons for our school library. They will be given out to kids who comes to the library in a costume. We only had time to make 200 buttons, so they will be given out on a first come first serve. Our library mascot is a narwhal, so I designed the narwhal in Halloween costumes. I on the library promotion club and of all nerdy names, we're called the "ACRONYMS". Ouch.

Okay now, everyone, go read a good spooky book or watch a spooky show tonight after trick or treating. (Sadly, I have to study for my test tomorrow).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Shop at Mitsuwa Marketplace

We love going to Mitsuwa Marketplace at 3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, for a quick bite at the food court there. We can get a bowl of noodles, or curry rice from one of the food stands. While we wait for our food to be cooked, we like to roam around and visit the book store/cafe, or check out this really cute store called Trendy.  It's fun to browse through some manga or Japanese fashion magazines at the book store, or check out or buy some cute gifts from Trendy.

Sadly, Trendy close down lately. There's been an empty space at that store front for a few months. However, today we discovered that a new store opened up in its place a few weeks ago.  It's called Power Anime. In the display case facing customers, there is an awesome giant Mazinkaiser robot (we could be wrong).  Inside, there are all kinds of smaller but cool anime action figures. Apparently Power Anime used to be in the Westside Pavilion, but moved to the Mitsuwa marketplace. It's probably a good move too because we never noticed it at the Westside Pavilion, but here, it's immediately noticeable.

A temporary Marion Crepes place is also open at the Mitsuwa Marketplace, but for only a month, until November 4. So it's only around for another week. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Neat Freak or Slob?

When I was younger I think I had a slight obsessive compulsive issue. It wasn't very severe, but I just was kind of a neat freak. I was the weird kind of kid who liked to clean when I was little. And I must have been pretty annoying too because I would always sing the "Clean Up Song" whenever I cleaned.

My stuffed animals had to be in an exact order every single time I set them up on my bed. My "OCD" got to the point where when my friends came over and they picked up one of my stuffed animals I'd have to try my hardest to restrain myself from putting it back in the right place. Eventually I would give in and put them back in the exact order, otherwise I would be bothered throughout my play date. My best friend thought I was kind of weird. I needed to sleep with my blankets folded a certain way and my stuffed animals in their exact places. The result is that I have less space to sleep than my stuffed animals.

It's not as bad now. Sometimes after my mom changes the sheets on my bed and the animals order is messed up, I don't freak out anymore.  Seriously though, I know that I will never be able to forget how my stuffed animals and toys are supposed to be set up on my bed, and I'll always know if one of my buddies is missing.

I used to be crazy neat too: I had all of my clothes folded into neat little piles in my drawer organized by long sleeve, short sleeve, tank top, and whatever else. Every time my mom wanted to go through my drawers to donate things that don't fit me anymore to Goodwill, I would get really upset because she would mess up all my neatly folded piles. When she gave up and asked me to pick things out to donate, I couldn't bear the thought of giving up anything. In fact, I would go though what she had sorted out to donate and secretly retrieve my things without her knowledge. The result is, I still have shoes and clothes that date back to second grade which I can't wear anymore.

In middle school, my OCD sort of stopped. I had too much homework to deal with so eventually I sort of just got messier and messier. Every now and then though, I'll get some weird tingly feeling and just think I'm living in this dump of a place and I'll go all out and clean and mop the floor and everything. The problem with that is, I then forget where I put things and get frustrated trying to find the things I squirreled away. These days, I'm more relaxed. My room sometimes ends up a complete mess and I'm not bothered by it.

By contrast, my sister has never been neat, and is in fact, a complete mess. Go figure how we are so different.

My sister's room on a neat day.
Let us know what kind of a kid you are (were): Neat freak, or slob?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Blogging about Kids' Books, and a Few Others Not Just For Kids.

This past summer, we were honored that asked us to guest blog for the site about the Top 10 best Asian-American books for kids.  You would think this was an easy task, but it wasn't. First, sis and I couldn't agree on the list. Then we got side tracked into wanting to read those favorite books again.  So it took a while, but we think it is a good blog.

We wrote about some of our favorites: Dance, Dance, Amy Chan, by Lucy Ozone Hawkinson, Lon Po Po, by Ed Young Crow Boy, by TaroYashima, Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear, by Lensey Namioka, Millicent Min, Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee, American Born Chinese, by Gene Yang, and a few others. A couple of them were featured in our other blogs. For example, Dance, Dance, Amy Chan was mentioned in a blog we wrote about the Obon Festival, and American Born Chinese was featured in a blog we wrote about Legend of Korra and Comic Books by Gene Yang.

Finally, since I'm in high school, there are a few other books by Asian writers that I enjoyed, but they probably don't belong on a list of books for kids and were eliminated from the final list for Here they are:


1. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese/British Man Book Prize award winner of 1988 for his other book, The Remains of the Day. This is a haunting book about a society where human clones are raised and bred for their body parts and trained to accept their fate. Told from the quiet point of view of a clone, at first we think of her as a normal young woman, until the novel slowly reveals the devastating world that is her reality, an the truth that is her destiny. The book's scenario is science fiction, yet one can imagine that with all our modern day scientific advancements, it could become real. The book was made into a movie this year starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield.

2. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. This book is about four Chinese immigrant women who play mah jong together regularly, and about their now grown up daughters. The daughters narrate portions of the book about their upbringing as Asian Americans, conflicts about their self identities, feelings of inferiority, and heritage. The mothers narrate portions of the book about their lives in China, political turmoil, and what they lost and gained in leaving China and coming to America. Ultimately, the rich portrayal of these women's past and present, and their embracing of their lives and heritage is quite satisfying. This book was also made into a move directed by Wayne Wang, who also directed the movie of another one of our favorite books Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

3. The Choke Artist: Confessions of a Chronic Underachiever, by Dave Yoo. This autobiographical novel about a Korean American guy growing up in a white neighborhood and trying hard to hide his Asian-ness is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The main character's pathological tendency to lie about himself is painfully and cringe-inducingly familiar to me.  His decision to finally be truthful about who and what he is comes as a relief and revelation. For an Asian American teen, who is constantly struggling with the model minority standard, (check out my blog this book is very insightful.

Also, check out Asian/Australian Shaun Tan's Tales From Outer Suburbia, a collection of short stories are are incredibly and beautifully illustrated by himself. We especially like the illustrated stamps of imaginary places in the Chapter Contents page. Reminds us of an incredible artist, Donald Evans. Donald Evan's World of Stamps.

There are plenty of other cool posts and information about books on the pragmaticmom site too. Check it out. We got good ideas from the site about what books we'd like to read in the future.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Supporting a Good Cause and Fan-girling Do Mix!

Sis and I got super lucky.  If you haven't already heard, KevJumba is hosting The Supply Cup tomorrow night, a charity soccer event organized by The Supply Education Group.  Before I gush about getting to meet our favorite Asian American stars, it is worth noting that The Supply Education Group is a non-profit organization that seeks to raise money to build schools in slums around the world and to empower children who live in slums to change their environments. We think this is a really good idea and a good cause.

Another non-profit we have donated to in the past is Heifer International. This is a non-profit that donates livestock to aid poor communities in poor countries. The animals produce milk, eggs, labor, and food to help communities end poverty and become self sufficient. We've solicited money to buy chickens, goats and llamas for poor communities as a service project since our elementary school days. It's fun to know that we are donating actual animals to communities that need them.

Now, the gushing.

The Supply Cup soccer match is a 4-team soccer game that features KevJumba, WongFu Productions, (Home is Where the Han's Are) and Dante Basco (the voice of Prince Zuko from Avatar, The Last Air Bender! Whaaat?! Chloe is thinking of wearing a shirt with Prince Zuko's face on it to the event) as captains, plus a bunch of other awesome awesome players like the Fung Brothers of (626) music video fame, Arden Cho, AJ Rafael and Just Kidding Films. It's understandable that we gush about these people because they are Asian Americans who just happen to be in our favorite shows, whether on TV, or on Youtube.  Their humor, antics and talents are so Asian American that we as Cool Asian Kids, can really identify with their work.

Prince Zuko
We were lucky enough to score two VIP tickets to the event through Drama Fever's ticket giveaway! How? It's because we watch Korean dramas on TV (we blogged about our favorite K-dramas previously) and followed Drama Fever. When they announced the ticket giveaway, we immediately entered the drawing. (Oh the joy of social media!)  That means we'll have the chance to meet all our favorite Asian American stars.  How cool is that? We're super excited and we'll definitely be sure to update you all about it afterwards!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Witnessing Space Shuttle Endeavor's Final Flight

Yesterday, if you haven't already seen in the news, was the day that the space shuttle, the Endeavour flew over California. This was one of the last space shuttles to ever go to the moon. It was flying from the Edwards Air Force Base to LAX, and would later be located permanently in the California Science Center in LA. NASA's space shuttles were all built in California, so it's nice that one will be stationed here permanently for the public to see.

A lot of kids from my school crowded outside their classrooms because their teachers let them wait for this historic event: Endeavour would come flying over our school on top of a plane. We waited inside for the space shuttle to come because our substitute for Spanish told us that he was following the twitter feed and that it is still in Malibu. Every once in a while one of the kids in my class or from the classroom below would shout "THERE IT IS!!" and then everyone would rush to the window just to find out it was a false alarm.

Our sub said that we would be able to tell when the Space Shuttle showed up because we would hear a bunch of little kids screaming and shouting. While we were in class one of my classmates yelled "IT'S HERE" so our sub said "Let's go!" and everyone started to rush out the door until we found out it was another false alarm. Our sub said that another false alarm and he would send the students to the Dean's Office, because for one thing, this would NOT look like a normal airplane and we should look for a really low flying airplane (NASA would be flying it especially low for everyone to see) with a GIANT space shuttle on top.

While he was explaining to us that there was, in fact, 15 minutes to go until the Endeavour would fly overhead, we heard a bunch of excited screams from below and he exclaimed to us "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" and we all rushed out of the classroom in a massive heap. At first we couldn't see anything. We saw a bunch of kids crowded on the bridge looking up. It was beautiful weather yesterday, and the sky was so clear, but there was no plane in sight.

Then we spotted it. It was spectacular. It flew right above us. There was, in fact, a giant space shuttle strapped to the top of the plane. It was an amazing moment. It seemed as if time stopped. All of the screams had subsided, while everyone looked in awe and wonder at the amazing sight. You must realize that to calm a giant group of kids that just had a long break was quite a miracle. On top of that, as soon as the Endeavor flew over, all of the kids pulled their phones out of their pockets (which were NOT allowed) to take pictures, but the teachers either allowed it for this occasion, or were too awestruck themselves to notice. A few jets flew after it, and then it was gone as fast as it had come.

Interesting thing was that this event was covered by social media. My teacher followed Endeavour's flight path through twitter, and thousands of articles about when it would fly and where to spot it was all over the news. Plus, if you happened to miss it, you would be able to watch it online or on TV. One of our favorite authors, Lisa Yee was invited by NASA to witness Endeavor's take off from Edwards Air Force Base. She took a spectacular video of the take off from 500 feet away!

I am really glad that I got to witness this historical event live during school. Some people were taking math tests and did not get to see it, or their teachers did not let them out. My mom, dad, and sister did not get to see it either.

Frankly, I did not even know that there was going to be a space shuttle flying over California yesterday, but then again it isn't something you'd expect everyday.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Experience . . . The Teenage Driver!

I'm learning to drive.  That's right, folks, I just got my permit and had 8 hours behind the wheels lesson with Melrose Driving School Instructor Lorena. My mom takes me out to drive every once in a while so I can earn the required 60 hours on the road experience before I take my driving test at the California  DMV-- and boy, is she scared.  She practically clings to the armrest for dear life, and from the passenger side, her foot air pumps furiously on imaginary breaks.  Mom once made the mistake of inviting dad and sis to join us during one of my practice drives.  He ended up blowing up at me and refusing to speak to mom for half a day (presumably because mom allowed him to be in the backseat), and sis declared that she "wasn't prepared to leave her life in my hands" that day.

My favorite comic strip about teenagers: "Zits" by Scott and Borgman

So maybe I'm not exactly a fantastic driver yet, but I discovered that there may be bonafide explanations for this. I read an artical called Teenage Brains in National Geographic about how teenage brains function.  (And we all know that National Geographic is a real authority on stuff like this.) The article lists two main reasons as to why we teens do the seemingly (and sometimes actually) stupid, stupid things we do -- you know, texting while driving, DUI (not me, but teens in general), speeding, etc.  The first: our brains are half-baked!  Of course kiddie noggins don't just poof into adult minds, but evidence of brain maturation can actually be physically seen using brain scans.  My brain is still developing, and while I have more self-control than 6-year-old does, I'm still a bit more impulsive than my parents are.  That means it's harder for me to resist the temptation of checking my text messages while driving. . . Wait. That maybe due to my ADHD.

Another reason cited by the article is that teens are also more inclined to engage in thrill-seeking and risk-taking behavior.  So basically, we are willing to put more at risk for a temporary reward than adults are.  Maybe I brake a little too suddenly at a stop sign, or I don't really break much at all on a turn -- because I like the thrill of waiting to see how far I can push it before applying the brakes? Hmm. That's a stretch.

Whatever it is, teen drivers need to learn to control their tendencies. It is serious business to earn the privilege of driving. Too many teens get into accidents while driving, injuring not just themselves but innocent people too.  When I see a teen in a Driver's Ed vehicle, even I steer clear of it knowing that if the teenage driver in there is anything like me, danger lurks.  It may take me longer than other teens to master the responsibility of driving, but I am determined to practice and practice until I can be a safe driver.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Celebrating 10,000 Page Views with Fan Art of "K-On" Anime

Recently, I've been watching this really cute anime series called K-On on YouTube

I decided to do some fan art of a shot from the anime. (1) I did the line art of an image on Adobe Photoshop,  modified the background somewhat, (2) colored the drawing using Photoshop, and (3) Did an overlay TV effect to make the drawing too like a TV image.

The art work is also posted on my Deviant Art Site here. Took me a few days.

Here it is to celebrate reaching 10,000 page views on our blog and to thank our followers.

Line Art

Colored Artwork

TV Effect


Friday, September 7, 2012

Towel Animals, Food and Fun on a Cruise

Just before school started, we went on a cruise for the first time to celebrate our grandparent's 50th Anniversary. We went on the Carnival cruise for 4 days to Mexico, with a stop on Catalina Island.  I thought I would get sea sick because I usually get really motion sick on anything that moves, but I didn't this time. I had also expected something similar to The Suite Life on Deck but I realized that the TV show only featured like 3 areas of the ship.

The Carnival Inspiration had about 12 levels. Scattered throughout the levels of the ship were mini golf courses, arcades, sushi bars, a LOT of places where you can eat, a spa/fitness area, a theater, waterslides, casinos, and so much more. You could never get bored on that ship.

Also, surprisingly, the food on the ship was very good. For lunch and breakfast they had different kinds of foods that you could get from different stations in a buffet style. On top of that, if you got hungry in between meals than you could go get pizza, sushi, hot dogs or whatever else they were serving any time of day. Dinner is more fancy. You have to dress up somewhat nicely and you get to choose from a variety of options of appetizers, main course, and dessert. They had everything, ranging from lobster tails, steak, sushi, fish, indian food, to fried chicken, pot roast, and other good stuff. The desserts were amazing too. We especially liked this one grand marnier souffle...

We went to the spa and fitness a few times, because apparently, you gain 1-2 pounds every day when you're on these kinds of cruises! Once, we even ran out of the sauna in our bathing suits to the window to see a school of dolphins swimming alongside the boat. It was really cool. My grandparents really made the most out of the experience. Since they've been on cruises before, they knew what to expect. They would get two appetizers, 5 meals a day, or something like that (even though my grandpa is supposed to be on a healthy diet for health reasons). We soon caught on to the cruising ways.

Our room had a "window" but when we drew back the curtains all we can see was a plastic wall. This is because we had an interior cabin. Our 6 year old nephew would always brag to us about his family's room with a window, so we told him that we had a special window and that we could see mermaids out of it!  I don't think he believed us. The crew also made towel animals for us every night.

On Catalina Island, we stopped in Avalon. We spent the day kayaking, mini golfing, and touring the island in a mini golf cart. It was a beautiful day there. I love Catalina because the water is so much bluer than where we live.

The next day, in Ensenada, Mexico, we went with a tour to check out different places in the area. Ensenada is not the most beautiful part of Mexico, but we had fun horseback riding, walking through an area with a bunch of cool shops, and we ate great churros and amazing fish tacos in the street.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience a lot more than I thought I would. I really thought I would get sea sick but I could hardly feel a thing!  This was a successful first cruise.