Your TED-inspired New Year’s resolutions

I’ll work on #2, 3, 7, 8, and 10.

TED Blog


If you’re dreading the inevitable day your New Year’s resolutions—to lose weight, get a better job, and drink less, perhaps?—fall flat, it might be because you need different resolutions. Instead of focusing on outcomes, why not set your sights on process this year? Here, 10 resolutions inspired by TED Talks. They just might inspire you in turn.

[ted_talkteaser id=1653 lang=en]
Resolution #1: Make time to make art.
From the talk: 
Young-ha Kim’s “Be an artist, right now!”
“There are hundreds of reasons why we can’t be artists right now,” says Korean author Young-ha Kim—that is, all the reasons we invent when we’re too scared or intimidated. But, Kim reminds us, “We are all born artists.” Unleash those suppressed artistic impulses: take an acting class, buy some paint, or just sit with a notebook and write like crazy.
[ted_talkteaser id=1833]
Resolution #2: Take charge of your love life.
From the talk: 

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Trying to be less iChallenged

I have been a faithful PC user ever since I can remember. During my teens, I avoided purchasing anything that was made by Apple Inc., except my iPod Nano, which I won in a raffle. Now, according to, I am “iChallenged“, because I have limited to no knowledge on how to use Apple products. Well, I can’t help it if the PC has been my best friend for all my life; I’m too comfortable to even consider becoming a Mac user, not to mention a MacBookPro (MBP) user. But with my sights set on for grad school in the fall which will require intensive computer running for research purposes, a recent student $200 education discount for the MBP, and a yearning to try something completely different, I was pretty much sold on an MBP exactly two months ago. I didn’t really play with my one-piece aluminum contraption until I received a 1.5-hour tutorial tonight.  I got the Sparknotes on how to use the MBP from my good friend who is an avid user of the MBP. And all I can say is that the MBP is extremely user friendly and has motivated me to uncover its amazing potential and capabilities! This is my new baby:


Lesson from a Taxi Driver

I seriously take too many things that my parents gave me for granted. The fact that my parents immigrated to America to provide my siblings and me the opportunity to pursue higher education, to give us the freedom to choose what we wish to do simply amazes me…Everything that I have–my ability to think, my heritage, my background, my beliefs–can be traced back to my parents and their tireless efforts.

I never realized nor appreciated my parents as much until I was riding to the airport from Berkeley last month on one of my grad school visitation weekends. The cab driver (let’s call him J) was rather friendly and disclosed how despite how hard business is these days for his line of work, he aspires to raise a family in America so that his children can have the same opportunities as I do (i.e. getting into great grad schools in preparation for higher-paying and more respectable jobs). He made me realize the numerous sacrifices that my parents and other immigrants had to make to come to America in pursuit of opportunity not only for them but for their children. Not only did they have to learn a new language, but they also had to earn their citizenship, work honestly, and raise a family in an entirely foreign nation. They hoped that their children would not have to experience the misfortunes they underwent as youths in other countries. They hoped that their children would have a brighter future.

It’s people like J that make me realize how grateful I should be for my parents. For all the invisible blood, sweat, tears, and agony they had to experience to get me and my siblings to where we are today. Thanks, J, for reminding me of that. I love you, Mom and Dad. ❤


You know you’re out of shape when…

….you’re punching and kicking for 1.5 hours in a Krav Maga class and find yourself panting and slouching every 5 minutes or so because (1) the instructor is too intense and (2) you’ve been hibernating and haven’t intensively trained yourself at the gym all winter. It also doesn’t help that your BMI is on the higher end of the Normal Range for your age group. Oh, and don’t forget that your arms are already sore slightly 3 hours after practice. Oh, how depressing…but you know what this means! It’s time to hit the gym hardcore before summer arrives! Woo!

Behold…the power of the sun!

I don’t mean to bore you to death with the ensuing subject, but today marks the two-year anniversary of my starting undergrad research in the Schwartz lab.
This was the research that changed my major
…my perspective on life.
…my future goals.
…and gave me renewed hope for my future.
Presenting to you….recent articles on bulk heterojunction organic photovoltaics (aka organic solar cells). I’m just archiving these links for easier access when I need to start writing up my senior thesis, which….still needs to be done….sometime before I graduate in June. *twiddles thumbs* In case you have any shred of interest on this subject, I’ve provided a few links to below:
  1. (the review article gives a basic overview of what this field is about)
  2. (Note that you must have university access to the links to read this.)
  3. (for people who actually think about P3HT/Ca interfaces a lot)
  4. (from Sam Jenekhe collaboration on organometallic semiconducting polymers)
  5. (Two weeks ago, I attended a UCLA CNSI seminar by Dr. Daniel Nocera from MIT who was featured on the cover of National Geographic for his work on energy conversion in chemistry and biology. Let’s just say that he is an AMAZING speaker.)
Here are a few more things that I need to do before graduation include:
1. More research 🙂
2. Undergrad Science Poster Day / apply for Dean’s Prize 🙂
3. Give two more group meetings
4. Finish up senior research thesis (!!!)
5. Finish up an official paper on shuttlecock fullerene derivatives for submission!

Top 10 Goals for Self Improvement in 2010

To me, a new year represents new challenges and goals, more “growing up” to do as wongfuphil put it. At the end of every year, I always find myself confounded by how a new year arrives so quickly; before my very eyes, a whole new decade has commenced! Can you believe that the 00’s are over?  0_o

Usually, I write this particular post waaaaay before ringing in the new year, but I’m pressed for time this break due to living life as a bum and typing away endlessly on grad applications, analyzing research data, and studying Chinese. Basically, no hay tiempo para relajarse. In sticking with tradition, however, I looked back at the resolutions I made last year for myself to assess whether I’ve managed to succeed or fail in my proposed goals. All I can say is that I was pretty ambitious last year, but I did actually manage to stick with about half of my resolutions this whole year. Not too shabby, eh? Here are the results–

2009 Resolutions:

1. Maintain my exercising schedule of working out at least twice a week for at least 60 minutes each time.
PARTIALLY SUCCEED: I kept this up the first 9 months of the year only to fail miserably once fall quarter 2009 started; over the summer, I even managed to lose about 3 kilograms, which proves to me that if I set my mind to something, I can achieve great results. I really shouldn’t have given myself an excuse to stop going to the gym just because of my busy schedule. I must discipline myself more in 2010, which ties into Resolution #10 below.

2. Donate at least $200 to nonprofit organizations and charities.
SUCCEED: With Dance Marathon, GreenPeace, Environmental California, and a few other organizations, I donated much more than that in 2009. I am pretty satisfied with my progress on this resolution, but I resolve to keep doing this.

3. Commit at least 300 hours to volunteering my time for community health and environmental welfare.
SUCCEED: Without fail, I managed to donate my time in volunteering in APHC. I am simply addicted to that feeling you get when you work for a good cause. :] I should start volunteering for Heal the Bay or even EcoGeek this year as environmental projects.

4. Keep up with the news.
PARTIALLY SUCCEED: If I could only have kept up my news-watching habits over summer 2009, then I’d be such a happy camper right now. The school year forces me to live inside the academic bubble, no matter how much I try to watch/read up on news on NYTimes, BBC, CNN, etc. Maybe I should start listening to NPR like my lab does.

5. Support family whenever possible.
SUCCEED: I managed to help my mom get into the habit of exercising at least 20 minutes each day. This is SUCH a huge improvement from before, since my mom wouldn’t budge even if I begged her to walk with me around the block. I found it effective to call home and remind my parents to go walking at night. Small, baby steps is the way to go. Not only that, I’ve been trying to be a better sister. Since I have very limited time at home, I’m trying to be a better sister by helping out my younger brother become more disciplined. I’ll work on contacting my sister more this year, since we go to the same freakin’ school! >.<

6. Continue vegetarian habits.
SUCCEED: What more can I say? I intend to run on veggies until the day I die.

7. Be less of an environmental hypocrite by walking more, turning off lights when not in use around the house and in the dorms, wasting less water, and engaging into environmentally-friendly projects.
PARTIALLY SUCCEED: Even though I did participate in a water use program in the dorms for the first half of the year, I lost the habits I gained from that experience once summer started. Even though I know military showers are the way to go, sometimes I get lazy, but this is not acceptable in 2010. Even Avatar reinforced the idea of the importance of resource conservation. I must be better about this in 2010. As for walking more, turning off lights, and participating in projects, I’ve pretty much maintained those habits throughout the year; now if I could just extend those habits towards water usage, then I’ll be up to par.

8. Have more respect for people and anthropogenic creations, because what they say/show is usually very valuable and useful to your own development of knowledge.
PARTIALLY SUCCEED: Even though I’ve been much better about this than ever before in my life, I am still a rookie in this area. More progress in this area is necessary in 2010.

9. Maintain at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
SUCCEED: I’m still beyond that lower limit, so I expect myself to graduate with College Honors and  Latin Honors if I manage to survive for the remaining two quarters here at UCLA. I’m still setting the bar high though; I can’t ever be comfortable with where I am, since I am committed to progress and improvement; and 2010 will be no different, since graduate school is on the horizon. No exceptions–I need to continue owning school. [Hmm…maybe adding research and life into that mix is pushing it?]

10. Use Facebook less and/or procrastinate less on the Internet. Instead, invest more time into studies and finding applications of real life to studies.
I really need to figure out a way to stop squandering time on these useless pursuits. I’ve considered deactivating my Facebook, which I did while I was studying for my GREs over the summer, but I reverted back to my old habits once fall quarter started. Winter break was spent almost always connected to Facebook, which was a bad idea, since I was distracted by it while working on my applications. :\ I must change this in 2010. Now, HOW is a really good question. *ponder, ponder*

2010 Resolutions

1. Develop and maintain healthy exercising, eating, and bodily maintenance habits by spending at least 30 minutes to exercise, 20 minutes to relax, and making healthy vegetarian selections each day.

2. Be less wasteful of water resources and consumer products in general, be less lazy about recycling, and become more active in environmental organizations, such as Heal the Bay or EcoGeek.

3. Be civically engaged by committing at least 100 hours to volunteer for community health and environmental welfare. Donate at least $200 to nonprofit organizations and charities.

4. Be more engaged in political news, alternative energy policies, technology, environmental health, and climate change issues by watching documentaries/vlogs/blogs, listening to lectures/audiobooks, reading books/articles/magazines, or writing about these topics in my blogs.

5. Set aside as much time for family and old friends as possible, no matter how difficult it becomes in terms of time, distance, or other unforeseen inconveniences. This will just become harder as life progresses; if you can’t do this now, what makes you think you can do this later? Just try to enjoy and appreciate life more with those whom you love.

6. Successfully apply and matriculate into graduate school(s) to further career.

7. Maintain a good academic record, not only in college but in graduate school (at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA).

8. Have more respect for people and anthropogenic creations, because what they say/show is usually very valuable and useful to your own development of knowledge.

9. Deepen knowledge of Chinese culture by travelling to Asia after college graduation, watching more Hong Kong variety shows/dramas to improve on Cantonese, and read/write more in Chinese.

10. Minimize sources of procrastination on the Internet. Consider blocking sites, hiding password, or deactivating accounts to time-wasting sites. Instead, invest more time into studies and finding applications of real life to studies.


From Scraps to a Windmill: The Story of William Kamkwamba

I just absolutely had to dedicate an entire post to this inspiring young man, who managed to build a windmill in Malaui, Africa at the age of 14. I wish that I had an ounce of his tenacity and motivation. Anyway, enough chatter–you can watch his interview with Jon Stewart here for more info.

Ponderances on UCLA Stabbing Incident

UCLA Woman Stabbed. UCLA Stabbing at Young Hall.

I’m sure most of us at UCLA have heard about the the stabbing of a fourth year undergrad in the Young Hall chemistry lab today at 12:21 pm. It’s headline news, apparently. On Twitter. On Facebook statuses. It’s amazing how fast news travels these days. In fact, one of my friends in New York heard about the news half an hour after the incident happened. I got eight voicemails within the next four hours after the event happened from friends and family, asking of my well-being. Anyway, the details of the event can be found in almost all major news sources (i.e. LA Times, Daily Bruin, NY Times), so I’m not going to squander more space to write about it here. Rather, I’ll disclose some thoughts I had about today’s event.

Today started out like any other day. I attended lectures, meetings, and lab with my friends and classmates. I was going about my own business in the materials chemistry  lab on the first floor of Young Hall until suddenly one of my lab partners reported that someone had been stabbed a few floors above us.

Stabbing? Again?!!? I immediately thought to myself.

There was a stabbing around the fraternity houses just last month. To have a violent incident happen within such a short span of time completely shocked me. Being the curious beings we are, my lab partners and I immediately searched through the Internet for recent updates. Daily Bruin’s Twitter reported that everyone should avoid Young Hall, though the suspect (also a fourth year undergrad) had been taken into custody.

Great. I thought to myself. We’re still here….but at least we’re safe for now.

I couldn’t help but start ruminating about the implications of this incident. For one, I realized how one incident committed at UCLA could have such dramatic impacts. Let’s say that this stabbing occurred at a small liberal arts college out in the Mid-West–would the media have overhyped it in this case? Probably not. I think the fact that the crime happened here at UCLA made the difference between headline news and some obscure report. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that liberal arts colleges are not important. In fact, I respect them very much so, but for this to happen at a top university in the country most likely caused the media frenzy. I couldn’t believe that the LA Times and NY Times had already reported on this so soon.

Secondly, this incident reminded me of the value of life and friendships. In college, it’s very easy to become immersed in schoolwork and stress about academics and work, but these unfortunate events pull me back to the basics. Most of us watch crime scene investigations on TV, but for the sixth floor of my beloved Young Hall to become one was just incredible to me at first. It really put things into perspective. I mean, one of my friends and/or roommates could have well been taking Chem 30CL this quarter and had been the victim. In fact, anyone of us on campus could have been severely injured and jeopardized. Really. I know I’m making way too many assumptions here, but this event made me reflect on this a tadbit more.

Thirdly, I couldn’t help but think about the morbid series of events that have occurred in this small section of UCLA’s South Campus, namely Molecular Sciences, Young Hall, and Boyer Hall. Within the last two years, two people have passed away, albeit due to different reasons, and now…this happens too. May there is bad karma in this part of UCLA. It might well just be coincidence. Despite all this, UCLA is still a rather safe campus. and does its part in enforcing security measures. I’m most likely overthinking and making overgeneralizations, but it was interesting to see that these events happened around the same places of campus. I hope it’s not cursed. I really don’t.

But what I do really hope and pray for is for the girl to pull through this; though her identity has not been released, there is a high probability that I or anyone of my friends in the Chem/Biochem department know of her or the suspect. I pray for her speedy recovery and hope nothing like this happens again in the near future.

Nifty Cool Gadgetry with a Purpose

Every time I have a desire to buy something, my mom’s voice suddenly rings in my head: “Know the difference between wants and needs.”

Yes, mother.

She has warned me about my spending/saving habits, not that I’m a profligate daughter to begin with anyways. Compared to other girls my age, I am very frugal, not going on shopping sprees or random visits to eateries in LA, Corona, or Rowland Heights. I think my life edges on being an ascetic sometimes. But….but….when it comes to really, really cool gadgets, like OpenPeak’s Energy Management Solutions device, I am a sucker. 0_O

Here are some of its key features:

  • Helps connects Public Utilities to the customer (us)
  • User-friendly, on-demand event notification of energy usage and pricing
  • Centralized user interface for thermostats and communication capabilities
  • Allows for downloadable applications and content including news, sports, weather, popular social networks, and instant messaging all on the same device.
  • Looks spiffy
  • Made with durable materials

Can you tell why I’m going gaga over this now? Clearly, this is more of a thing that I want rather than need. Desires can be overpowering oftentimes, but I’ll weigh the pros and cons of this before I actually do make a financial investment.

*sigh* I just wish the solar cells I work with look this outwardly and functionally attractive. There’s still a long way to go in that sector. Perhaps once I’m a rich millionaire in the solar cell research field, I can start purchasing these gadgets at a whim.

Or not…it never hurts to dream.

Onto GRE studying for the millionth time.


We support a variety of communication standards, including ZigBee and WiFi. A pivotal point of differentiation for OpenPeak is our ability to leverage our multimedia touch screen user interface and suite of downloadable applications and content including news, sports, weather, popular social networks, and instant messaging all on the same device.

A Little Dosage of Inspiration

My dad sent this to me today, and I thought it was the most inspirational, yet simple, poem that I’ve ever read in my life. Thanks so much, Dad! ❤ In times of frustration and desperation, I think all one really needs is to go back to the basics, and in the case of this poem, it teaches us to return to the basic concepts of living life. I managed to provide a rough translation, but of course, it is not nearly as meaningful in the original context. Some of its essence has been lost in translation, but regardless, hopefully you can still get the point of the poem.




























Rough Translation:

Whether you have a lot or money of not, it is fine as long as you have enough to eat.
Whether you are ugly or beautiful, it is fine as long as you are not unsightly.
Whether you are old or young, it is fine as long as you are healthy enough.
Whether you are poor or rich, it is fine as long as you can get by.
Even if your husband arrives home late, it is fine as long as he arrives home.
Even if your wife complains, it is fine as long as she cares for the family and home.
From a young age, children should be taught well.
Being a professor or vendor are both fine.
Once you grow up, remember to obey the rules.
Whether your house is big or small, it is fine as long as you can live in it.
Whether your belongings consist of brand names or not, it is fine as long as you can wear them.
Even if your boss is not the most ideal, it is fine as long as you have patience.
If you have distress or problems in life, it is fine as long as you can change.
If you are too stubborn, learn to be more tolerant.
In one’s lifetime, it is fine as long as you live in peace.
Just because one has money does not mean all will be well.
If your heart and actions are good, then your life will naturally change for the better.
To be or not to be, only Fate will know.
Many things in life, one just needs to understand and move on.
Everyone is good. Every day is good.
I am good. You are good. The world is good.
All in all, knowing enough is good.
This short poem is really good.
If I didn’t send you this, it would be my fault.
Sending this to you will hopefully help everyone become better people.


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