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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why do we complain? Looking back at 2016.

Lately, I've been hearing a lot of people- in school, on TV, around town - saying that they can't wait for this crazy year to end.

Every December, Google undergoes a certain 'trend'. Every year, there is a spike of searches for the "worst year ever". Why is every year a bad year? In fact, we call every year the 'worst year ever'. I agree, there were unexpected surprises, horrible terrorist attacks, deaths of many celebrities, etc., but I don't think these add up to 2016 being the 'worst year ever'. I'm sure every year has its shocking and saddening events, but it seems like we forget about these events once the clock ticks 12:00 AM on January 1st of the next year. All of a sudden, we begin to keep a new list of the bad things that happen. Why are we always complaining about the present? Often we forget the events of the past and are ignorant of the problems of the future.

In January of 2016, music fans around the world grieved for the death of music icon David Bowie. Soon after that, Alan Rickman, a distinguished actor who played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films passed away. His death shocked many Harry Potter fans, including me. Early events such as these deaths started the unpredictable and long year. More terrible news followed, from the bombings in Brussels and the spread of the Zika virus, to a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. So, yes I think there have been many dreadful events happen in 2016, but it doesn't mean we should complain and whine about this year being the 'worst year'.

Donald Trump won the presidential election and about 57% of US citizens are unhappy with the results. They say he won't know what to do because of his lack of political experience. However, about 90 million eligible voters did not go to vote. A similar event, Brexit, experienced the same problem. People were not voting. They didn't want to contribute to the future of their country but, when the results came, they were angry. It's simple, if you want a certain type of government, you vote. If you don't vote, things might not go the way you want it to.

2016 was definitely an unforeseeable year. The US had its first female presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. The no-DAPL inspired many to fight for what you think is right. This summer, Pokemon Go got kids and adults moving, rather than staying in bed for the whole day. The 108-year curse was broken when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Scott Kelly returned from a year in space. And, let's not forget about the hilarious Joe Biden and President Obama memes that have popped up after the election!

Amazing things have happened this year, so we shouldn't be complaining about the problems of 2016. We should look to the future and plan on making 2017 a great one.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a happy new year :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yellowstone...the Nation's First and BEST National Park

Imagine sitting in a car for 14 hours, passing by states, and getting farther away from California.
The sky was pitch-black and daylight was nowhere to be found. The streets were deserted and our car was the only vehicle in about a 10-mile radius. It was 3:00 a.m and my family and I were on our way to Yellowstone National Park. As we sped across California, the sun rose, giving light and life to the cities we drove past. We were entering Nevada, the Silver State and it had been four hours since we left home. The only thing that kept me excited was looking at Snapchat Geofilters. We didn't stop for lunch since our car was packed from the bottom to the top with snacks and other random food. After another boring 6 hours, we reached Nampa, Idaho.
Good news: we were in Idaho! Bad news: another 8 hours to go.
Wind patterns
In the past hour, we had drove through two different time zones! It seemed unrealistic to be 1:00 p.m one minute, and in the next mile, 2:00 p.m!
Our first stop on the way to Yellowstone was Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. At the state park, the temperature was nearly 100 degrees, but it felt so much warmer. The sharp sun rays hit the sand dunes directly. We began to hike up towards the top of the sand dunes. Although it wasn't a steep hike, it was still a little tough because we were walking on loose, hot, sand. As we walked towards the peak of the sand dunes, the wind speed increased. Soon, I felt like the wind would take me with it^.^ Because of the robust wind, the sand that made up the dunes naturally formed into a wavy design! After spending some quality time at the top of the sand dunes, we walked back down, pushing against the powerful wind. At the Bruneau Dunes State Park, there were camping sites available and if we would have lived in Idaho, I'm sure we would have camped by the great dunes.
View from the top of the dunes
The Bruneau Sand Dunes were quite an experience, but to make the trip more adventurous... midway to our hotel, in the middle of a desert, our car ran out of gas! We were driving to our hotel which was only about half an hour away from the dunes. The road we were driving on was surrounded by barren land on both sides. There was nothing but grass and farming land. And our car chose this time to run out of gas. There were no shopping malls or even houses around this "town"....and no other cars on the road either. Our car had 5 more miles to go until it ran out of gas! Between the irregular surges of signal on our phones, we tried our best to look at GoogleMaps to locate the nearest gas station. Unfortunately, the nearest gas station that showed up was too far away. Our car wouldn't be able to take us there! We decided to keep on driving, hoping for a miracle. The number of miles our car would run declined rapidly and soon the display of the gasoline went blank...we were out of gas randomly in the middle of Idaho! Our car was running on the leftover gas and would stop any moment. Not giving up, we kept driving and VIOLÀ! There was a gas station!! It was so surprising to see that a gas station would be there, in the middle of nowhere, right when we needed it. 
After that close call, we headed to our hotel in Mountain Home, Idaho. 
The hit of the next day was driving to the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The Craters of the Moon National Monument was named when Robert Limbert, an explorer and journalist, thought that the monument looked like the surface of the moon and he decided to call it the Craters of the Moon. The Craters of the Moon is an ocean of volcanic land. Everything in the
Craters of the Moon
National Monument is dark black and rocky. The craters were created thousands of years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. The same eruptions throughout the world caused the Earth to form. As we drove past the black hard rocks, we spotted a couple of cinder cone volcanoes. In some areas of the monument, we got down to walk through the craters. It was amazing to see these sleeping, not dead, volcanoes creating all those craters! The incredible thing about the Craters of the Moon National Monument was that the Apollo 14 astronauts(Gene Curnan, Alan Shepard, Joe Engle, and Ed Mitchell) visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument to study about the volcanic formations. This was to educate themselves of the Moon's geography before actually going to the Moon.  
Shoshone Falls
Day by day we got closer to our final destination...Yellowstone!
We visited countless attractions en route to Yellowstone, including the Idaho's Potato Museum and the Shoshone Falls. 
Since Idaho is the "Potato Capital of the World", we decided to visit the famous Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. Although the Potato Museum wasn't as interesting as we had expected, the Shoshone Falls, our next stop took our breath away. While driving to the Shoshone Falls, it began to drizzle and soon dark clouds gathered above. We reached the entrance, which was on top of a hill, of the Shoshone Falls. From that point, we couldn't see any waterfall... all we could see was the pouring rain, the distant lightning strikes, and thunder. As we drove down the hill towards the parking lot, we heard the roar of a waterfall. Grabbing all the umbrellas and raincoats we can, we went towards the noise and there it was! We gasped in astonishment at the Shoshone falls, pounding against the rocks. We went to the observation deck and the rain had conveniently stopped! Now, it was just the strong mist and noise from the falls. The Shoshone Falls, taller than the Niagara Falls, was breathtaking. The sun's rays struck the falls, giving it a little shine. The Shoshone Falls, or the Niagara of the West, was definitely worth seeing. 
On the fourth day of our road trip, we drove through Teton Valley and entered Yellowstone National Park! 
Beryl Spring
Since our hotel was located in the West side of Yellowstone, we drove through the state of Montana to enter from Yellowstone's West Entrance. After entering the Park, we drove through the coniferous trees to reach the Beryl Spring. This was the first spring we saw there, and all the tourists were in awe. How could a natural feature under the Earth have so much pressure and heat to create a hot spring? The burbling springs were places where water welled up from under the EarthThe Beryl Spring was a blue-green color and about 188 degrees Fahrenheit(85 deg. Celsius)! All the attractions we saw in Yellowstone were spectacular, and we'd only been there for one day! My favorite was the Artists' Paint Pots. The Paint Pot Trail was an easy walk around many of Yellowstone's geothermal features. The boardwalk we walked on took us so close to the steaming mudpots, geysers, fumaroles, and springs. The colors of the paint pots were so contrasting, from dark reds to
Bubbling mudpots
 bright blues. And to think all of these were naturally made from volcanic magma under the ground, the same ground we were walking on! As we were walking, few of the small geysers were erupting and its warm water drizzled on the tourists like rain! It was an amazing experience!! The whole area looked like a different world, not Earth anymore. Next, we saw the sulfurous mudpots. A mudpot is an acidic hot spring, with not much water and more of bubbling mud. The mud is continuously created by acid and microorganisms which decompose the surrounding rocks into clay and mud. We were literally about five feet away from naturally boiling mud. The mud was pure white and looked like a witch's stew bubbling every two seconds! After that surprising geothermal feature, we headed towards the steaming fumaroles, which were openings in volcanoes from which hot gasses emerged. Because of the high amounts of
sulfur, the fumaroles were extremely red in color, and they stunk like rotten eggs! The funny thing was that everyone who walked past it would cover their nose, because its smell was so strong and unpleasant! We managed to take couple of pictures and moved on. We walked on the boardwalk, through the Yellowstone forests, and we could see clouds of steam(from geysers and springs) here and there. It was as though the treetops were producing the steam. As we made it to the exit of the Paint Pots, a geyser called Vixen Geyser, began to gurgle. We decided to stop to take more pictures, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of the trip. The Vixen Geyser started bubbling rapidly and all of a sudden it erupted!! Right in front of our eyes!!! The shimmering geyser sent out a tall column of warm water, fresh from Earth's core. It erupted for five minutes and throughout the whole time, none of the crowd talked, we were all in great awe and surprise. After it died down, we headed our way out of the Paint Pots. Over the next few days in Yellowstone National Park, we visited a couple of more geysers and mudpots. 

It was 1:00 p.m on August 13th and we had been standing in the middle of a crowded boardwalk on a extremely hot day for more than 20 minutes. 10 minutes passed... still no eruption from the glorious Old Faithful. The crowd was getting tired and ready to leave. But at 1:18 p.m the Old Faithful erupted, shooting out water up to 150 feet in the air! It was spectacular
Old Faithful!
and totally worth the wait. After two minutes it went down and the crowd left. We decided to wait another 90 minutes and watch Old Faithful's eruption again. And again... Despite the extreme heat, we stayed at Old Faithful to watch it three times, and the last time to take a family selfie with it while it was erupting . After that, it was time to go back to our hotel. On the way we decided to stop by the Mud Volcanoes. There was traffic throughout the road, and we were wondering why when we drove around the corner and there were hundreds of BISON everywhere! Left and right, on the hill and valley, even on the road! This was what was creating all the traffic and commotion. The bison were so massive and shaggy! Even one knock on a car from a bison would easily make a dent on the vehicle. Soon, a couple of Park Rangers arrived to help clear the traffic. We continued to make our way to the Mud Volcanoes. 

Bison walking down trail
In the Mud Volcanoes, there was a boardwalk for us to walk on, through the bubbling mudpots. Although the bad odor was still there, it was really cool to see this natural geothermal feature. We planned to walk up the hill on a trail to see the view of the mud volcanoes from a high point. BUT... the weirdest thing happened! As we were hiking up, a couple of BISON began to walk down the trail
The next day was our last and shortest day at Yellowstone. We decided to take the challenging trail, called Uncle Tom's Trail, down to the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" and the Lower Falls. Although the majority of the hike was nothing but stairs, it was more strenuous than you would think! There were more than 300 steep steps against the side of a mountain. To the left of us was a rough waterfall and river, and to the right was the walls of a canyon! The bottom of the hike gave us a great view of the canyon and waterfall... but the strenuous hike back up 300 stairs was tough because there were no benches to rest at and the elevation change was more than 500 feet! After conquering that little adventure, it was time to say goodbye to Yellowstone. 
Uncle Tom's Trail
The road trip was fantastic and I would definitely recommend going there for anyone who hasn't. 
For the 2,600 miles my parents drove... without a doubt, going to Yellowstone, the first and absolutely the best national park, was worth it!
Thanks for reading :) 




-LIVE CAM of the Old Faithful: http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/webcam/oldFaithfulStreaming.html




Monday, August 18, 2014

Three Continents in Two Months!

      My remarkable trip started on June 10th to the "Country of Festivals", India. And the flight was long...14 hours sitting in the same position with no space to stretch your legs was not enjoyable at all. But the excitement of meeting all my relatives, going to beautiful places, and spending seven weeks on foreign land kept me content. We landed and stepped outside the airport and ohh that nasty odor and the heat was awful! It felt as though we were all in this big oven that was warming us up until we melted :( On top of that, we had still landed around 12 in the night! That was when I thought about how the heat would be the next morning when the sun was high above our heads. As the time went by, I realized how different India was. There were many things that I didn't like at all. There was nonstop honking of the vehicles on the road
no matter what time it was. Whenever I walked outside all I would hear is honking noises from every single direction, every single moment! What bothered me was that the vehicles honk for no reason! The roads were a mess. Nobody followed the traffic signals... and it felt like they drove wherever they wanted to, anytime they wanted. Just to walk across the street was chaotic and quite scary. In addition to all that mess, the smell was horrible everywhere! But, the city had its own beauty too. There were so many roadside coconut water shops. I loved drinking the coconut water because it cooled you down and it tasted so good! Trying to cool was hard... but keeping yourself away from mosquitoes was even harder! We kept spraying ourselves with mosquito spray and that seemed to help. The terrace was another amazing thing in Chennai. It was where you could walk on the paved roof of the houses. People used it to dry their clothes there. 
     Next, we went to this place called Ooty high up in the mountains. To go there we had to take an overnight train. The trains had beds but no Air Conditioning, so it was best to sleep near the windows. In Ooty, we went with our entire family...about 30 people! And even though I didn't know many people, I got really close to everyone by the end of the trip. Ooty was entirely composed of thick, lush forests. We all went in Safari Jeeps because there were no roads. This place was really different from Chennai because there were no people, and the weather was cold and foggy. One day, this man came to us and told us that there were some wild elephants wandering around really close to the place we were staying in. A couple of us hurried up and rushed to see the wild elephants. Even though it was getting really dark, we still were interested in seeing the elephants. We carefully walked in the jungle and came to this lake. On the other side of the lake, were two elephants. We slowly sat down so the elephants wouldn't see us. There was a small elephant and another one, likely its
mother. Both were drinking water from the lake. Soon, we decided to head back since it was really dangerous to be in the forest while the sky was pitch black. The next day, I found this skull of a cow on the ground! It was so big and I wanted to know what had killed it and how long ago it would have happened. Since the place was a forest, there were monkeys...everywhere. After few days, we headed back to Chennai but this time on a sleeper bus! I liked the bus better than the train since the beds were clean like a hotel room! Time passed really quickly, having fun with everybody. Before I knew it, we were packing to leave India. It was sad but there was nothing I could do.
   Next, was Europe. Another flight of 11 hours took us to Italy. During the flight, the view from above the clouds were beautiful because the sun was setting and the clouds were like marshmallows. Our first stop is Rome. I thought the city was
gorgeous from the moment I stepped out of the airport. We walked to our hotel and on the way there were many roadside restaurants out on the sidewalks. Cake shops and bakeries were common and they smelled so good when we walked past them. All the buildings were in an old-fashioned style...even though I like it I would never like to live there. There were many churches and were all so pretty but soon I got bored of seeing them. The weather in Italy was no different than India...it was still really hot but not too humid. Next, we went to another country. The smallest country in the whole world, Vatican City. It was really interesting to see the wall all around the country. We spent about 4 hours in Vatican City and we covered the entire country...mainly because it was so small! We went to St.Peter's Basilica, the place where the Pope speaks from, and the famous Sistine Chapel. In Rome, the water is so abundant that there were water fountains that poured cold drinkable water all day and night! It never stopped because there was no way to stop it!! All the tourists kept cool by catching water in their caps and then putting it on their heads. The entire city of Rome had a ground made out of medium sized rocks..so your feet would start paining easily after walking for a couple of hours! We came across a couple of funny names like "Gastronomia" which meant bread store ;D And the citizens there didn't know any English but, they were very helpful for tourists. Store after store, there were so many of my favorite snacks: so many types of cheese, olives, pasta, and gelati!! <3<3<3<3 Gelati was my absolute
favorite there. There were so many flavors and it was different than normal ice cream. Gelati was more like icy and slushy. We spent our last day in Rome at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The Colosseum was wonderful from the outside but I felt disappointed when we went inside. It wasn't how I thought it would be, like a stadium. The Colosseum didn't have any rows of stone seats inside. It was just the outside that was spectacular. Then, the Roman Forum was incredible because of the large pillars and how much work the people long time ago went through to build them. 
     It was time to leave to Pisa by train. We traveled by Trenitalia, and those trains were clean and looked so much like airplanes! The only thing worth seeing in the entire city of Pisa was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Personally,this was my favorite of my entire trip because of its dramatic lean. After taking some funny pictures at the Leaning Tower, we left to Cinque Terre, a beach side village. The train that took us there went by the beach coastline and it was so fascinating to see the beachside houses and the rocks on the beaches. On the next day, we went to Florence and saw the climbed up a hill to Piazzale Michelangelo to see the view of the city and the sunset. Venice was another big hit of the trip. The entire city had "roads" which were all waterways. The main public transport was water buses and water taxis! It was really cool to see a bus station on the water. We went to an island in Venice called Burano. Burano is famous
for lace making and its brightly colored houses. Then, to get to Murano, famous for glass making, we took the water bus from Burano. All the names of the placesconfused me so much, because there were so many small islands in Venice and many of the names were similar. Our last stop in Venice was the Lido Beach. This was another island which fully had beaches with black sand! The water was warm and there were no big waves so many tourists swam in the salty water. Finally, our last city of the trip, Naples. My first impression of Naples was disappointing. There were no tourists, the city was empty and wasn't lively at all. 9 out of 10 stores were closed. The entire city seemed deserted. The only thing I was looking forward to there was Pompeii. When we went to Pompeii, I thought it was not as great as I thought it would be. It definitely wasn't worth standing in a line for 2 hours in the hot sun. There were only three plaster casts of people...and I was expecting much more. But, even those two plaster people were impressive. Soon, we were on the way back to North America. After a flight of 15 hours we landed in SFO Airport after 2 months. I loved this vacation so much. Italy was sooo beautiful and unique. My favorite place in Italy was Pisa so if you ever plan a trip there, don't miss out on the Leaning Tower. Make a stop at Pisa..even though the only attraction there is the Leaning Tower! Thanks for reading and please comment your thoughts:) Waiting for next summer...only 10 months away<3<3<3<3
   

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Amazon Prime Air?!?

     Yes, the Amazon Prime Air is here...or is it? You must be thinking why not? I'm sure all of you must have heard about the sudden reap of interest about the Amazon drones, also known as the Amazon Prime Air. If you haven't, then this post is especially for you.
     Over the next few weeks, FedEx and all the mailmen are going to be working overtime trying to get your Christmas present to you. In a couple of years, they won't be doing this. Instead, Amazon's drones will take over, working hard to get your gifts to you on time. What exactly are the Amazon Prime Air drones? Amazon drones are the future way of delivering packages. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, says that Prime Air is a service that delivers packages by autonomous drones. He hopes that the company will be able to deliver packages into customer's hands within 30 minutes of the time they place an order. His hopes are to have this in use by 2015. "I know this looks like science fiction. It's not," Bezos said. "It drops the package. You come and get your package, and we can do half-hour deliveries." But, really? Will this really work?
     One of the biggest challenges for Amazon will be the safe landing of the drones in front of the customers' homes. Imagine this drone hitting someone or something out on the streets. That would be quite hurtful. Hitting trees, power lines, and the safety of people walking outside are few of the safety issues. These Amazon drones would need more safety testing. Bezos says," This thing can't land on somebody's head while they're walking around their neighborhood." That would be funny and quite embarrassing. This drone can run into kids playing in the driveway or something else not pictured in the satellite view of the delivery site. "Obviously obstacle avoidance will be built into drones," Colin Guinn CEO of DJI Innovations says, "What customers could also do is choose a specific landing spot when ordering, like the back yard or driveway." That would be offering a spot clear of obstacles and will be helpful for the drone to avoid accidents.
     Safe landing is not the only challenge that Amazon faces with the drones. These Amazon drones are limited and will only be able to serve a tiny part of the U.S.A. These unmanned vehicles would only be able to deliver packages within a 10-mile radius of the Amazon fulfillment centers. So folks who live in Fremont, CA, well, we're out of luck for now. "The[Amazon] video is by far the most fleshed out proof of concept yet." Guinn said. "But with the system they showed, a 20-mile round trip on a single charge isn't possible with today's technology." Still, even when the drones could fly 20 miles from fulfillment centers, only a tiny part of our country could be served. These drones will be able to carry packages that weigh up to five pounds, which covers about 86 percent of the items Amazon delivers. 
     Despite that, there is always the technical issues. How long can the battery last? How many deliveries can the drones make before needing service? Because of that, the delivery cost would be quite expensive. Making the drones would be costly as well. I'm not sure if many people would use this way of delivering because of the high cost issues. But, I would love to try this at least once, that is... if my parents are okay with it:)

     However, the U.S Federal Aviation Administration will have to agree to these plans. So putting Prime Air into action will take years but, "one day Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company said. I hope this idea will come true and I'm sure Amazon will find a way to face these challenges. True, it will be hard but Amazon has changed the way of shipping and can do it again. It would be great when you look up and see Amazon's drones flying by!!!