The Future is Now

[ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON NOV 6 2019]

Guess what I did yesterday? I rode in a self-driving shuttle! It was an adorable little vehicle that only goes 12 miles an hour but it’s still pretty darn cool. The demonstrator people were showing it off in the parking lot. Look how cute:

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They set in a pre-programmed path and a destination for it to go and it’s so accurate it will be within four centimeters of that path! It’s got lots of camera and sensors but uses LIDAR data to detect obstacles as well. One of my classmates stood in front of it while it was moving and it actually stopped in front of him.

Yesterday, I also turned in my resin cased model which I thought turned out good but I didn’t get such positive comments from my professor. Oh well. It’s still pretty neato. The process if resin casting is a sort of wasteful, lengthy one.

First, I started with making my object our of REN foam, which I had to sand down into the shape I wanted (even though my professor was not a fan). Once I had a nice shape, I sanded it and sanded it with up to 2000 grit sandpaper to make it smooth.

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Then I sprayed it with a primer paint and sanded that until I reach 2000 grit as well. Once my model was good and smooth, I made a plywood box and glued the model to the bottom. Then I mixed together some very expensive silicone and poured it into the mold to make a negative cavity in the silicone in the shape of my object.
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After the silicone hardened, I dismantled my box and removed the object so I had a silicone mold.

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Then mixed together some very expensive resin, added color, and poured it into the mold. Very quickly after that, I had to put it into a pressurized chamber for an hour. The pressure was supposed to shrink any of the bubbles that formed in the resin so it would be perfectly finished.

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When I took it out of the mold, it wasn’t very shiny. I had to again sand it and sand it and sand it until I got any bumps and bubbles out and the surface was smooth. THEN I had to use a polishing compound and rub it on the object for like half and hour to make it shiny. THEN I took it to class where the professor pooped on my object with his words. (I am bitter about this, if you can’t tell).
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Over the weekend, my cousins came to town! They were here to run the Rock n’ Roll Marathon and they brought along their spouses and children for support. (I should clarify that they only ran the half, but that’s still twelve more miles than I ran that day). Watching thousands of runners at 8 AM definitely makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough with your day.

Anyway, after they finished, we hung out in Forsyth and listened to the live bands until the kiddies grew too grumpy and sleepy, so we got some food truck food and went back to my aunt’s house. I has a wonderful time meeting my new second (I think) cousins and catching up with my regular cousins and aunt. We ordered pizza for dinner and watched the Hunger Games catching fire.

Today is an “eat a block of cheese while sitting on the floor doing work and trying not to fall asleep” kind of day. It’s been a long quarter. It felt like forever, but I am finally going home next weekend! And I won’t have to be back until January!!! I’ve really been struggling the past few days. It’s not that I have a lot of work, it that my motivation to do stuff has greatly diminished and I want to go home. Also, I hadn’t been eating enough meals in the dining hall over the quarter and I have to use all my meals before the quarter ends. This is good because I don’t have to go to Kroger for the rest of the quarter but bad because I have no snack and I’m hungry all the time. But some things never change I guess.

There are some other projects I forgot to tell you about!

First is a helmet I made out of EVA foam. The kind of foam they use for those play mats that fit together like puzzle pieces. We had to have some kind of theme for the helmet and mine was the “don’t talk to me” helmet. It has giant headphones and spikes and looks very punk rock.

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To make the helmet, we had make a template using a mannequin head. We were told to wrap the head in tin foil and duct tape and then trace out the shape of the helmet shape and cut it into pieces that can then be traced on the foam. The mannequin was the same size as my head but everyone else had bigger heads than me so they resorted to a different method to making their template the right size for their head. Here is a picture of them in action:

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The other project I’ve been working on is replicating an object as close as possible to the original using techniques we learned in class. We are supposed to do two iterations. The first one was due a few weeks ago and the second one is due next week. The Second one has to be better than the first. I chose a foot tambourine that ended up being pretty difficult to make. Here is my first one (Can you tell which is the model and which is the original?!?!):

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HINT: It’s the model is the one on the right!

 

Also, here is the picture of the Gulfstream building!

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Hard Core Foam Core, A Million Post-Its, My Dumb Lamp

It’s been so busy. What the heck. Anyway, I gotta catch you up because an insane amount of stuff has happened since my last post.

First. It’s Hard Core Foam Core. Where we have a week to build a giant model out of foam core and tape which we present to a small audience in the form of a rap. It’s a whole event that happens at the end of a very sleepless and stressful week and all the students taking this introductory model building class all perform and then there’s a vote. But the underclassmen teams always win because they know more people. You can’t find any videos of this online because apparently YouTube thinks it’s porn hahaha. Anyway, our prompt was to create an “exoskeleton” or suit that served a specific function. Our exoskeleton was for all terrain exploration and our rap song was to the tune of Thrift Shop by Macklemore. I wrote all the lyrics. We had every surface in the grad bench room covered with foam core and we spent many a night in there after midnight but finally we finished.

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Here it is on our model!

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And here the suit is on our form after the event:

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But yeah, sorry, I don’t have a video. Even though my rapping skills are tight, yo.

After the Hard Core Foam Core, we had to make elephants out of REN foam. It was an ungraded assignment but I made them look real cute.

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A few weeks ago, my cousin and his wife were in town! So I got to spend some quality time with them and my aunt. It was nice. I got to show them around the Gulfstream building, including our Hard Core Foam Core model that is on display. We then enjoyed an evening at the picnic in the park event in Forsyth Park. We listed to the Savannah Philharmonic.

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In my design theory class, we’re doing a project on reducing single-use plastic during travel. We had to interview a bunch of people and every little “data point” or notable thing that someone said was written down on a post-it note. We then had to read through all the post-its and group them into categories. Then we took those categories and grouped them into more categories. This process is called “affinitization” and it was kinda cool at first but then it was real boring.

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In model shop, we’ve been working on this very annoying lamp project. I was very excited about it at first because I wanted to make a very cool lamp but the project quickly sapped my self-confidence and became a burden for all of us by the end. Still it was a pretty cool process and I learned a lot cool model-making techniques. So first we planed a board and cut it into five pieces and glued it into a block. Then we turned that block on the lathe into our lamp shape. Here’s a pic o’ that:
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After that, we cut the wooden lamp in half. Yes, in HALF on the bandsaw and then do this really cool thing called vacuuforming. It’s a machine that molds a heated plastic sheet around the lamp half using a vacuum table. It’s really cool! It’s what they did on Mythbusters a lot to build models so I’m basically on Mythbusters, thanks for asking. But unlike Mythbusters, our machine is not very high tech. I’m not very good at explaining what it is, but here’s a picture.

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So the halves of the lamp (they are called plugs) don’t come out that easily after the vacuuforming so I had to cut the excess around the edges with the bandsaw and then kinda hammer it out with a wood block.

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Then I glued the halves together with a glue that smells like something that no one should ever be smelling probably. Then I sanded down the glue on the seam and drilled a hole in the top of the lamp. When I drilled the hole in the top, the darn lamp split in half along the seam and so I had to glue it again. After I fixed that, I had to fill all the seams with Bondo, which is a scratch filler used for cars. Then I sanded that down and painted it with primer. In between each coat we had to sand the primer down. Then I coated it spray paint which, if applied incorrectly, caused dripping, which then had to be sanded after it dried. We were supposed to choose an automotive spray paint because it gave the best finish but I really wanted an orange lamp and there is a lack of orange automotive spray paint, due to the lack of orange cars, so I bought non-automotive spray paint which was probably a mistake. It was a lot of waiting around in between coats and I am a very impatient person so this was not my favorite. Also it dripped all over the palace and the sanding made it worse. So I kinda gave up before the clear coat and went home.

Here is how it turned out in the end, but you can’t see all the scratches:

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Yeah, it’s a hanging lamp. I have no idea where I’m going to put it but at least it’s orange like I wanted it to be.

Today, I had my 8AM class even though we usually don’t have class on Fridays because our professor was out of town on what was supposed to be the second makeup day. So I’m sleepy. Also, I had to go to the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to look at model ships. I really wanted to be interested in what the museum guy was telling us about all the ships but he went on for quite some time and I had not idea what all the nautical and ship-building jargon was about. I did learn that the Mayflower hull got turned into the roof of a barn outside of London. So that’s cool! The boat models were also very impressive! But there were so. many. boats.

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Good thing is after the boat museum, we went to all get dinner as a little friend group together at the Little Duck Diner. Then I went to the Gulfstream building to work on my current project which is to make a replica of one of our pink foam models using any of the modeling techniques we’ve learned so far.

It sounds like there’s going to be a big storm coming in tomorrow so it’s batten down the hatches for me! Also sidenote, I just spilled some tea on the carpet in my room so I better clean that up.

Pink Foam Everywhere, Don’t Talk to Me Mr.

Since we last spoke, things have gotten busier. Like WAY busier. This is largely thanks to my model making class because our assignments are all overlapping so there are always multiple things due that all take up a lot of time. The project I finished last Tuesday was replicate not one, not two, not five, not ten, but fifteen objects in pink foam. In a week. If you can’t tell, that’s a lot to do in a week. He suggested that we pick objects that relate to a theme so I decided to pick objects from my days as a busker on the streets of downtown State College. The only thing is that I thought it would be really cool do a ukulele, even though the professor said that anything too detailed or larger than a shoe box would take too long. But yeah I did it anyway.

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I didn’t do the string though because I really just didn’t feel like it.

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Here’s the setup for my presentation. I tried do make it look like it did when I played downtown, except I had some extra items so I could reach 15 objects.

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I brought my real ukulele to class since we had to have some to the items we were replicating and my professor let me play a song after my presentation! I play Can’t Help Falling In Love because it’s a classic.

I’m also working on carving four elephants out of a material called “ren foam” which is really dense foam that is more enjoyable to do than the stupid pink foam that got scratched really easily but it is still really time consuming.

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I rode my bike to Gulfstream yesterday and it was actually a really nice ride. The street I go down in pretty calm on the weekends at least and then I don’t have to wait for the dumb bus to come. SCAD really needs to step up it’s game with the buses because they are absolutely not reliable. (Hey Mom, see my cool lock?)

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The other thing due very soon for model shop class which I should really be working on (but I took the day off) is for an event that SCAD has every year called Hard Core Foam Core. All the students taking this model building class are divided into teams and tasked with building some insane thing out of foam core which we then present in the form of a song or rap during a big event. If you don’t know what foam core is, it’s like thick poster board that is paper on the outside and foam in between. Our prompt is to design a robotic exoskeleton that a person wears and it is oriented toward a specific task. So a lot of people are doing combat exoskeletons that have all these weapons attached and such. Our group is still kinda figuring stuff out and I’m hopeful they figured some more stuff out today while I wasn’t in the bench room. (For future reference, the bench room is basically like the grad studio space where we work on all our projects. Did I already say this? I don’t remember. Anyway, it’s an ok space but there are no windows. Honestly, Stuckeman was way better but you didn’t hear it from me).

Don’t worry, I wasn’t slacking on my day off. On top of all the work I’ve had to do for all my classes (and I have group projects in all three classes), I’ve been sick for the past week. I have the coughing kind of sickness that is just really annoying and throat-irritating and loud and disruptive, both to me and all the people around me. A few days ago I took a nap in the bench room because I had a meeting there later but I was too tired to work on anything. I guess my coughing and complaining was pretty bad because my classmate felt so bad that he – unprompted- offered to drive me to Kroger so I could get soup and then drove me back to my dorm. My best buddy Logan also did a nice thing and ordered me a whole pile of Chinese food to my dorm when I got back from Gulfstream (where the bench room that I am not too fond of is located). Thanks Log, you rock.

I’m still sick and coughing all over the place but I felt a lot better today so I went for a run. It was hot and sticky difficult but at least I did it. I was walking around Forsyth park afterward and a random guy started talking to me. He seemed nice enough so I tentatively chatted with him for a while. It was ok but then he asked if I liked motorcycles and I said “no” and he said “that’s too bad because if you said yes I would ask if you wanted to take a ride on my motorcycle with me”. Yeah no, I don’t think so mr. weird fat guy. I told him I had a lot of homework and gracefully exited out of that very uncomfortable situation. The best part though is that I told my parents and my mom said, “you know not to go with him if he asks you that, right? Even if he’s a nice man.” Yes, Mama I know. I’m 23 and have a well-developed distrust for most people I encounter, especially man strangers.

Speaking of parents, mine are definitely best. Is the love your parents feel for you quantifiable by the amount of Regionally specific snacks sent to you while away from home? Because my parent’s love is. And the the answer is, they love me A WHOLE LOT. This package arrived for me unexpectedly. I had complained that I was out of chips and they said that they would send me more but I didn’t think they would buy all the chips in Central, PA!
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This afternoon I returned to Forsyth park to talk to more people, but on purpose. In one of the classes I’m taking, my team project focuses on researching sustainable tourism in Savannah and part of the research involves interviewing people and asking them questions about our topic. So of course we had to talk to a bunch of tourists. It’s actually really fun to talk to people but I probably need to be a little more assertive because I didn’t want to bother anyone. I did end up talking to a number of people though. No one offered me a motorcycle ride.

Right now, I’m just chilling now and pretending that I don’t have a butt load of work that I should really be doing. Have a nice evening everyone.

The Shed, The Macaroon, The Harmonica

Hi everyone! I am starting my second week of classes today! Last week was only two days of class because of the whole hurricane thing so this will be my first full week. Plus it’s extra full because we have class on Friday to make up for one of the days we missed. (We will have class next Friday as well).

All my classes are in a building called The Shed. It looks like this:

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It’s just a classroom building but it’s pretty cool inside. And the bus drops me off right by it! The first morning of classes (last Wednesday) I arrived promptly for my 8AM at 7:20. Good job me. But guess what? The doors are locked. It’s ok though because I also realized that I was going to a different class than I had originally thought and I didn’t have my pre-quarter assignment ready for the class I did have. Also, I forgot a notebook and pencil. And the doors still weren’t open.

Don’t worry it got a lot better.

After class, I decided to walk around the city. I bought some random art supplies at BLICK and then bought macaroons and sat in one of the squares and doodled with my new art supplies.

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I now only arrive 35 minutes before class and keep notebooks and pencils in my backpack at all times. Good thing I only have three classes. Two of them are about design research and theory and stuff but the one that I am most excited about, and the one that I am pretty sure will cause me the most anxiety this semester, is my model building class. It seems very intense. I got this impression when I was buying tools for the class at BLICK and the girl asked what class I was in. When I told her she said something like, “Good luck, drink a lot of coffee.” So that didn’t really make me feel super confident in my decisions to take three classes instead of the recommended two. Especially because multiple people told me that taking three classes as a grad student is gonna be really hard. But whatever, yo. I’m trying to finish in a year. Which, by the way, I can totally do! 🙂

The first project in our model building class is to pick a small object and replicate it in foam. For some absolutely ridiculous reason, I picked a harmonica, which has a million holes that are very difficult to carve out of foam. It took forever but here it is:

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Today I saw a bunch of turtles on a log when I was walking back from the the gym. Yes I tried to go to the gym today. Like for fitness. Didn’t care for it. I used a treadmill for the first time and it was a scary experience. I was worried I was going to stop paying attention and slip off the back. Anyway here are the turtles:

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Sweaty in Savannah

Literally it’s so sweaty here all the time. Like I’m walking in a thick pea soup of humidity. Ok, but actually it’s not that bad. But I am really sweaty.

Good news, though. I made it! Thank you to my devoted parents for driving me down here from central PA. It took about 10.5 hours. We left on Sunday and spent all of Monday exploring the city. And this is a seriously awesome city. The trees are massive and sprawling and draped with Spanish moss. The streets are lively and full of people dressed in funky outfits. Much of the historic atmosphere from the eclectic facades of the buildings to the brick streets and green squares. Also there’s a river walk and the beach is only 20 minutes away. Ten out of ten, would recommend. (Unless there’s a hurricane coming).

Today, I moved in to my new digs. I’m living in on-campus, apartment-style housing. I get my own room (there are four of us) and we all share a kitchen. It’s pretty nice, although I do miss having a whole apartment to myself. Here’s my new room:

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Also here’s the kitchen and living room. Not super exciting.

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My roommates seem cool and interesting and nice.

Earlier, we had graduate orientation and later this evening we have a floor meeting because, yeah, I’m back to having an RA. But I also don’t have to make Logan drive me to the laundromat to ya know, win some lose some.

It’s really weird that I am still in school. This was definitely NOT part of the plan five years ago when I was a wee freshman. But now, here I am, eating leftovers from lunch and figuring out how early I have to wake up to make it to my 8 AM class. I have 8 AMs every day. But that’s ok because as my parents have told me repeatedly, “It’s preparing you for the working world!”. Yeah, ok but the whole point of going to more school is to avoid the working world.

Hey, I’m Not Done Yet

That’s right! I may have graduated but school is still in session. I’ll be heading down to Savannah to do a short master of arts in industrial design program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). It’s only a year and a quarter but I am very excited to be living in a completely different city all the way down south. Right now I’m packing, and even though I’ve had five years of experience to get this right, it’s still a complete and jumbled mess.

I Did A Lot This Summer

It’s been way busier than I expected for not being employed. My mom and I traveled to China where we spent time in the city I was adopted from and also toured the absolutely sublime and awesome karst mountains of Guilin. Here’s a pic of that:

Since I didn’t have a job but wanted money, I did some freelance residential planting master plans for a few clients. It was way more work than anticipated but it was cool to feel like I owned my own business. Here is my summer workspace:

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Also, the Log and I went to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Actually, he asked if I wanted to come along and I told him that I didn’t really want to be very helpful and he said he still wanted me along anyway. Our campground was next to one of the smaller lakes so it was nice and quiet.

We did a lot of hiking and wandering, but it was too windy to go canoeing which was disappointing. Especially since the logo for the park is a guy carrying a canoe.

Unfortunately, we ended up leaving early because the forecast had predicted rain for the rest of the evening so we couldn’t sit outside and have a fire or really do much of anything without getting soaked. It’s ok though because we saw a moose on the way out of the park! Very exciting! Also, we stopped at the filming location for the motel in the TV show, Schitt’s Creek. It was pretty cool!

Here is a picture of the motel.

We also stopped at Niagara Falls. Amazing! But it’s kind of disappointing how close the buildings get to the falls and river.

What else… I hung out with Log and his cool family during their vacation. We went fishing and hiking and winery touring! I also got to spend a week with Log, moving him in to his new apartment outside of DC before he started his swanky new job. We were both sick for the whole week but still managed to see the Smithsonian, the zoo, walk around the National Mall, and spend a day in Georgetown where Log’s office is located.

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Recently, the family all flew to Texas to visit some family in San Antonio. We walked along the River Walk in the city and saw the Alamo (which was not the most exciting) and the other missions around San Antonio. I had a great time talking with the family and playing with my little cousins!

Most most recently, me and some of my LARCHie friends all went down to Logan’s bay house and we just hung out and talked and had campfires on the beach. A final get together before I have to head down!

Today

Today I am baking bread and packing. I’ve been trying to move my life in a more sustainable, less wasteful direction for a while now and there’s lots of waste in food packaging. I’m also trying biodegradable silk dental floss which will be interesting and invested in some mesh, reusable produce bags. I’ve been trying beeswax wrap to replace plastic wrap and got some reusable ziploc bags for my birthday. A present which my sister responded to with, “I used to be jealous of the presents you got.” Or something to that effect. My favorite thing though are my collapsible takeout containers that I bring to restaurants so if I have leftovers, I don’t have to waste the disposable takeouts. I also started carrying around silverware in my backpack and purse, as well as a small cloth napkin. I get quite excited about all of it.

So there you have it! My summer highlights. Stay tuned for next week when we trek down to Savannah.

I’m Done, and It’s Weird

I’m like, DONE done. Graduated. Gone. I own Penn State nothing. And it feels really weird. Because for five long years, I spent hours in studio and stressing about all the things I have to do.

Schreyer Medal Ceremony

Friday afternoon was the medal ceremony for the Schreyer Honors College. Before the ceremony was a reception held in Pegula Ice area. The food was sub-par. The ceremony itself was not too bad. For some reason, it was held in the BJC instead of a smaller venue. All the graduates were shuffled into a basketball gym off to the side of the main floor and given cards with numbers which we used to organize our selves in alphabetical order. That didn’t take too long, but we then had to wait for quite some time before the ceremony started. I found Nate (my buddy from club gymnastics) amongst the crowd we got a lovely pic together.

There were over 400 graduates. When they read our name, we walked across the stage, shook a bunch of hands (including president Barron), received our medal and went over to a medal tie-er who velcro-ed it around our necks. I got mine tied by one of my favorite professors which was really nice (even though he put it on backwards!). That was it. Minimal fanfare. It was nice. I am now officially the 3rd generation of my family to graduate with honors! Check out this photo!

Actual Graduation

The Arts and Architecture pre-graduation reception was way classier than Schreyer’s. There was quality food and a live band jazzing up the morning. Also, I actually knew everyone, which makes events like this much more enjoyable! We all socialized and took lots of pictures. Then, at 11:30, we started the procession from the under the water tower by Stuckeman to Eisenhower Auditorium. Some of the parents followed along.

The ceremony itself was pretty short. Only an hour or so. The dean of the college mentioned me in her her graduation speech! She talked about my adoption memorial and whatnot. I already knew about it but kept it a secret from my family as a surprise! Needless to say they were surprised! The LARCHies got to walk first. We just walked across the stage and shook more hands and walked off. I sorta thought we might get some fake piece of paper but nope. Oh well, it was still quite nice. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I started this blog! I’ve done so many cool things! I am happy to be done though.

After graduation, my family and Logs had a little get together. I’m so happy that so much of my family (on both sides) and friends came to see me walk across a stage! I appreciate and love all of you very much! 🙂

In the evening, Log and I went out on the town. We went out with Ben to Cafe 210 on College Ave. Our friends joined us later on. We had a great time and I drank a whole alcohol! Not too bad!

So now I’m home. But not for long! Tomorrow, very early in the morning, my mom and I are jet setting off to China! That’s right! I’m going to visit my birth(?)city and do some sight seeing and eat all the noodles.

Oh, look! It’s me and my beautiful sister!