Emily Lam

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Falling Asleep to Music

Falling asleep to music has to be one of my most favorite activities ever. It puts me in such a happy mood. =]

And with the clock app on my iPhone, I don't have to worry about
turning off the music when I fall asleep.

Remember those goals?

This summer felt perfectly paced. I guess that's because my mindset all summer was I miss Boston, I want to go back. So that longing gave me the sense of slowness. But then because I worked, had fun, and relaxed. I feel summer doesn't need to end yet – plus, I still have goals to finish. And the two feelings balanced out, so I neither feel this summer went by fast or slow. I had a Goldilocks summer.

Anyways, I wanted to assess my summer goals before September starts.

5. Learn a skill.
      Okay, I didn't learn a skill. I didn't really try. But I did dabble in HTML so there was an attempt. I also worked at an engineering camp, so I honed my previous skills. I'm not sad at all that I didn't make this goal.

4. Complete a puzzle!
      =] I did make this goal. Check the post about it.

3. Read/Write.
      Since, I was really vague about this goal – I didn't specify how many books I wanted to read or how much writing I wanted to write – I will deem this goal a success. I did read and write. All the writing I did is in this blog. So yeah, nothing impressive. What I read was also not impressive. I read the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It's kind of like a merge of 1984 and Lord of the Flies. The first book was pretty good, it was believable, but it just went downhill from there. And it really started to drag by the end of the trilogy. I guess I judge a book in part by how well I can emerge myself in it. (Thought provoking is a plus!)  Books, like the Hungers Games, really highlight how disgusting totalitarian governments can be. In that situation, I would probably go insane or not conform and be one of the ones they put down as an example to the rest. J. K. Rowling is right, we as human beings can imagine the situations of others. And we should use that ability to help the world. I will admit that I'm in a bubble, a bit naive, and that I don't realize how bad it is in some parts of the world. But that's something I personally need to work on. And I am optimistic about the human race. And that's all I read, book-wise. I know, weak.

2. Practice Piano.
      I failed this goal. Yeah, I only relearned one or two songs. =[ But at least I attempted right. Aw, well. I'll still hold on to the list. Maybe a new deadline, by next summer? This failure I am sad about.

1. Build A Lantern.
      I failed. And I think this is the saddest failure of the three failed goals. And it's not because I didn't try but because every attempt was a failure. =[ But you know it wasn't all for nothing. I learned a bunch of things. As Thomas Edison once said: I didn't fail to make the incandescent lightbulb 1,000 times but learned 1,000 different ways to not make an incandescent lightbulb. (I couldn't remember the exact quotation, and google wasn't helpful, it was showing me multiple versions of the quotation. So I just paraphrased what I remembered in my head. Besides most people have heard of this quotation in some form.) First, I want to say that I wanted to make a lantern without fireproofing the tissue paper, so a major challenge was preventing the lantern from catching on fire. Because my first two attempts caught on fire, I learned to line the bottom of the lantern, near the flame, with plastic tape. Plastic doesn't catch on fire, it melts. And on that note, because plastic melts, I learned to not seal the balloon part of the lantern with tape because when you light the lantern, the hot air will melt the plastic, therefore leaving holes in the lantern and letting hot air escape. Hot glue will also melt, but it won't leave holes and will also cause a stronger seal. And by all measures, I successful made a gleaming lantern. I like to sing to my little sister, "I've Got a Dream" from Disney's Tangled switching two of the words in Rapunzel's verse. Rapunzel sings, "I've got dream. I just wanna see the floating lanterns gleam." While I sing, "I've got a dream. I just wanna see my gleaming lantern float." (I know Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream about integration and mine is about a lantern. See what I mean about being in a bubble.) So why didn't my lantern float? It's too heavy. And I need more volume . . . so yeah. I might add more fuel too. I will try again today, in-between packing. But I want to leave you with a picture of my gleaming lantern.

=]

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Jumbled Mind

There's a lot on my mind right now. And it's really jumbled. Although not all my thoughts end up on my blog, right now, I feel like I need to write them out in order to make sense of them. So bear with me as I ramble through this post.

First, Steve Jobs is no longer CEO of Apple. What does that mean? Well, for one it's really sad. I mean Steve Jobs is the kind of guy who sleeps, breathes, and lives his company and would step aside only if he couldn't perform as CEO. So it really is sad that his health has deteriorated to this. I'm willing to bet his resignation was a really difficult decision for him to make. Yes, the man is still alive and still has an active role in Apple as chairman of the board. But it's still sad when the visionary of a company takes a backseat. It's no longer his company. I'm not saying Apple is on a downward slope. It's just I guess a loss of authenticity.

That's another thing I've been wrestling with. The authenticity of a company. I feel it leaves when the founder/visionary leaves. Once the visionary leaves, the company becomes a company by all means and profits and stocks become the most important details in decisions. Steve Jobs is famous for ignoring market research and just going with his guts, bringing people what they want before they know they want it. I really just hope the innovative nature of Apple remains. Apple used to be counter-culture, but now it's culture. How well Apple handles it's popularity is to be seen.

I relate all this to when Walt Disney left his company. The Disney Company is by all measure capable of producing top quality entertainment after Walt Disney's death. But, really what is the motive? Profits? Or genuine vision? I'm not saying that there aren't visionaries at Disney, but they are surrounded by businessmen that sometimes these visionaries are limited. I guess I just really like genuine things. You know, the feeling that hey, you put yourself into this product just so I could enjoy it. Thanks. I believe Pixar is very genuine in that way, which is why their films always touch my heart. Although like Apple, Pixar isn't as counter-culture as it used to be. (Interesting enough, Pixar was helmed by Steve Jobs until Disney bought Pixar, making Steve Jobs the biggest Disney shareholder, and a Disney board member.)

In light of all this, I watched Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University. I don't know why, but I have difficulty remembering commencement speeches, even right after I watch it. But I do remember him talking about connecting the dots and how one could only connect them backwards and that dropping out of college and being fired from his company was the best thing to happen to him. How failure/rejection, so to say, set him on the right path. He also discussed that one must love their job. And to never give up on finding that job if one hasn't found it yet. This made me think of the other two commencement speeches I've watched. Katie Couric at BU and J. K. Rowling at Harvard. I admittedly don't remember anything Katie Couric said. All I remember is that she quoted a bunch of people and answered tweets in her speech. I think she also barked. J. K. Rowling's, I do remember. She talked, like Steve Jobs, about failure, and how it was alright to fail. How her own failure set her free to write and eventually succeed. This is similar to Steve Jobs' outlook on failure. J. K. Rowling also talked about imagination. How we, as human beings, can imagine other's life, good or bad. And that we should use that to better the world. Jobs and Rowling are different. One is in the field of literature and the other is in the field of technology. But they're both creative visionaries of some sort. And for that, I admire them.

But of course, where does this put me? What is my vision? What do I want? I realize, I know a lot more about what I don't want to do than what I do. I know for sure I'm not a medical or business or law person. I guess that cuts down on a lot of options. But still . . . Looking at my list of inspirational people on Facebook, I see Walt Disney, J. K. Rowling, Angelina Jolie, and Steve Jobs (recent addition). They're all creative. And different from their peers. And visionaries. And I guess that's what I want: to be creative, different, and visionary. But in what form do I want it? And is what I want who I am? And am I capable of what I want? Or in other words, how am I to be visionary if I don't have a vision?

I've also, recently, come across the Disney Legends Award Ceremony during the D23 expo. I started to watch it but then I just couldn't. Something inside of me just didn't want to see it. I watch award shows all the time, Oscars, Grammys, VMAs, etc. But you know those are awards are given to people that yes, I admire, but no, I do not aspire to be. It was very weird that I didn't want to watch the Disney Legends Award Ceremony. I don't quite understand why. It puts my life into perspective, I guess. Like they are being awarded for things I want to do. And I'm force to realize oh wow, I lack so many things. I don't know. It's just something. I did though watch the performances: the original voices of Disney Princesses, Paige O'Hara (the voice of Belle), Lea Salonga (the voice of Mulan and Jasmine), Anika Noni Rose (the voice of Tiana), and Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel), singing their songs. (Here's a link to an article with all five performances. The author is of the article is on the ranting side though.) While I'm not a fan of the pedestal the Disney Princess are on, I can't say anything except that I loved their performances. It's like a blast from the past. Although Princess Tiana is a lot recent and younger than the rest. And they're REALLY talented singers.

And I've also been thinking of my skills. Because, I believe I have creativity hidden somewhere in me. And for the time being, while my creativity is hidden, I should work on my skills. Because no matter how creative your mind is, you need skills to make them come to life. So that's what I'm working on. College will give me most of my skill set but I can try on my own. Today, I dabbled in HTML programming. And well, I didn't make an effort to remember all the coding. But HTML is pretty logical.

And as an afterthought, for some reason, I feel like I neither fit in with the outcasts or the mainstream. I'm like an inbetweener. And aren't those really the people who are least accepted?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ride Concept Competition

Today, I think was pretty productive. I mailed my Calculus book to Amazon for $105. I had bought it for $150ish. So net loss of $50 dollars or so, not bad at all. And! I finally put together my ideas for the Ride Concept Competition hosted by the Imagineering Disney Blog. The contest ends today, the 20th, so yeah I'm kind of on the late side. The worst part is that I follow that blog so I knew about the competition when they announced it roughly a month and a half ago. And it took me that long to put my ideas together since I had the idea, coincidentally enough, only several hours before I found out about the contest. So I guess I am deadline oriented after all. I need one to get stuff done.

But anyway, I wanted to share my idea. (There's no rule against it, I hope.)

The ride is called The Unheimlichs' Soundwave.

Here's the concept summary:

The Unheimlich brothers, as their surname suggest, are uncanny. They're also misnomers: Professor Liquid Unheimlich is on the stern and rigid side while Professor Solid Unheimlich is a go with the flow kind of guy. Together they are among the best professors in the field of audiology. They are continually nominated for teaching awards – occasionally, Professor Liquid will win one more award than his twin brother. But they wanted something more for their students. They wanted them to experience the unique properties of the sound wave. So they teamed up with Disney to imagineer a way to turn the invisible sound wave into a very visible coaster their students could experience. The Unheimlichs' Soundwave is the result of years of work and offers guests a way to simulate the unique properties of sound unlike any other experience. From a distance, guests can identify The Unheimlich's Soundwave, from it's unique appearance as giant waves. Right next to Test Track, The Unheimlichs' Soundwave lies on the edge of Epcot. The waiting queue circles the exhibit hall. And as guests wait in line, they have the opportunity to look into the exhibit hall and witness the latest audio facts, technology, and experiments. In line, they also get to meet the Unheimlichs in person and learn their story. Once aboard the coaster, guests are launched forward at transonic speeds rivaling actual speeds of sound into a enormous first hill that represents the high decibels sound can reach. At the bottom of the hill, guests zip through water demonstrating sounds ability to travel through all mediums, including water. Immediately after, guests are sent into four inversions that represent the longitudinal waves sound waves are made up of. During the homestretch, guests take on another medium sound travels through. They twist through a tunnel with very small head and feet choppers to emulate the rigid solid sounds travel through. After the ride, guests exist into the exhibit hall to further explore and purchase photos taken underwater of their experience traveling through water.

Disclaimer: I do know a coaster will not reach the actual speed of sound, 768mph. But a coaster can reach 130mph. And with speeds that high, propaganda can spin it to sound "close" to the speed of sound. I also do realize that it's highly dangerous to zip through water, even for seconds. But that's for the Imagineers to figure out. This is just some blue-sky thinking. But I really do think it could be a possibility in the future. Maybe masks? Maybe just simulate the experience? Or Maybe something else.

I included the disclaimer because some of the ideas are indeed blue sky.

And I also included a flyer of some sorts with my entry. It's pretty simple because all I had to use to create it was Microsoft Word. I know, what kind of lame engineer to be I am. I will learn CAD soon though, don't worry. The flyer took several hours. And I don't know why the lab coats have spots on them. They're a fluke that I didn't think looked too bad and also made no effort to fix. Overall, I'm happy with my flyer.

I really do like it. The color scheme fits well too. Tell me what you think.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Playing Music

(Sigh, it's been almost one month since the last time I blogged. I don't know what happened to me. I just stopped. Hopefully, I'm back on track.)

Yesterday, I went hiking. It was grand and at times adventurous – we were chancing thunderstorms. We rambled – I believe that's British English for hiked – Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Mount Monadnock has a summit of 3,166 ft and is part of the White Mountains section of the Appalachian Mountains. We made it up with no rain and lunched at the summit with intense fog, chill, and wind. Down, we nearly made it back dry. We were fortunate to have already passed the rocky section when the rain came.

Here's a view from the summit.
While the rain was only a light shower, I think that was enough to make me slightly despondent for the rest of the day and into today. Today, I woke up relatively early, 7AM. And I just moped around. I felt so unlike myself. After lunch and some laundry, I decided to play the piano – of course I can't play anything now, it's all muscle memory. But it really soothed me. It brought me back to myself. I'm just really happy that I have the piano to go to. I know that when I'm feeling unlike myself, I can always throw myself into the piano and expect to feel better afterwards, even when I play at a subpar level. There's a real joy when playing the piano. Even when I struggle to learn a piece, I am still enjoying it, although I am also frustrated.

It's not just the piano. The other day, I pulled out my old recorder from when I was in elementary school. It's true when people say you don't forget the things you learn when you were little. Because I remembered every note I learned on the recorder. Compare to the piano, the recorder is very limited. I can play seven octaves on the piano while I can only play a mere octave and some on the the recorder. The piano is also capable of playing more than one note at the same time but the recorder can't. But playing both instruments is the same, joyful. And I realize the joy is in the playing. It's the same joy for all instruments. Even when I play the only song I know on the guitar over and over again, I feel content. Singing I guess is also another form of playing music. The instrument is your voice.

Listening to music in general is soothing. I guess that's probably why so many people invest in music: purchasing music and music players. There are also so many types of music out there that everyone has something they like to listen to. People connect to their music, and music at times can inspire people and also help create one's identity. That's probably why when I play the music I like, it soothes me. It reminds me of who I am or was. And let's me return to myself when I am in a despondent and vacant state. Playing the music you enjoy really adds an extra oomph of enjoyment, personal accomplishment, into the already enjoyable music. I highly recommend learning how to play any instrument because it's truly a wonderful experience.