Showing posts from 2011

National Novel Writing Month and Homework

Hi guys,
I feel like I haven't posted anything in quite a while and wanted to quickly update on two things which I hope sort of explain my long silence:
1. I have slain the beast that is finishing NaNoWriMo! For those of you who aren't familiar with it, National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words (in a novel) in the month of November. I started work on my novel, Truth and Beauty, five days into the challenge and managed to finish a couple days early (out of necessity, since I was leaving on a trip to Colorado and California for two speeches). Oh yes--the speeches should also help explain the silence on here :) I will post more about my travels once I have finished the second thing, which is
2. Catching up on homework. I have a feeling I will have stuff left over to do on Winter Break. Mostly AP Art History stuff...writing 12 art criticisms in one night is no mean feat (although definitely not specific just to me--pretty much everyone else does exactly the…

Social Circles

If you're an adult, I want you to think for a moment about your childhood; if you're a kid or teen, I want you to think a moment about your experience growing up and in the present day.

Ask yourself: who were/are my friends? Where did/do they come from?

As in--did they all go to the same school as you? Perhaps take one or more of the same classes with you? Hang out with your friends?

I'm guessing that most of them were, in some way or another, in your "social circle." My sister, Adrianna, is in high school. A lot of her friends are "Questies" (a reference to the "Quest" program for gifted students back in junior high). Her social circle, if I'm not much mistaken, mainly includes friends she's made in orchestra, Japanese class, and through mutual friends. She has 745 friends on Facebook; most of them go to her high school.

I have slightly more friends on Facebook (789). But of those friends, the overwhelming majority aren't local.…


I'm writing this at 11:52 PM mainly not because I have a particular burning desire to write a blog post or even that I have a strong passion on the topic of productivity, but more (fittingly) because I feel like I need to produce some sort of written work today. :)

Admittedly, I did spend a good portion of the morning emailing TEDxRedmond speakers ( youth event I'm organizing), working on a document about TEDxRedmond for potential sponsors, communicating with organizing committee members, and taking a SAT Literature Practice Subject Test for fun during commercial breaks on the evening news broadcast (FYI, my scaled score was 760/800--hoping I can do better without the news as a distraction next time--and yes, to folks who disagree with testing, I was seriously doing it for fun), as well as taking a walk to the grocery store with my sister and mom. When I list what I've done today off like that it sounds slightly more "productive" but all t…

Three favorite books about international characters

Dawn by Elie Wiesel
I read this a couple years ago and picked it up from the library to re-read recently, then had my mom read it as well. Thanks to the conciseness of its 80 pages, this novel is approachable to most readers. The plot is seemingly simple--the thoughts and reflections of a Jewish Israeli freedom fighter (or terrorist, depending on your viewpoint) on the night he is condemned to kill a British soldier in retaliation for the execution of a fellow Israeli fighter.

Though fictional, I think this story lends more insight to the Israeli vs. British fight for a Jewish homeland than the passing mentions the conflict is usually given in American history textbooks. As a book comprised of the main character's reflections, it is moving and raises important questions about the ambiguity of good and evil; Dawn is a book that explores the inner workings of the "gray area" of black and white.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (series) by Alexander McCall Smith
This h…

Do We Treat History Like a Dead Language?

Originally published on Huffington Post:

A sweltering parking garage filled with wand-wielding Harry Potter enthusiasts (all waiting in line for the midnight premiere of HP and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) may not seem like the most obvious place to quiz one's sister's friends about current events, but it was still an hour until the theater doors opened and I was bored. So I started a trivia game and out popped a question that I was dying to see if anyone could answer:

"Who's Betty Ford?"

It actually wasn't such a random question. Mrs. Ford had passed away only a couple days before. It had been all over the news -- radio, television, the Huffington Post. That said, I wasn't expecting much. My mom had asked the same question to two of my sister's friends the day before to receive blank stares.

"Uh ... related to Henry Ford?" was the response.

I felt it…

Somewhat Haphazardly-Organized Thoughts on Girls and Leadership

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, gave a TED Talk a while back, which I watched; I was impressed with her poise and interesting opinions (but then again, which TED speaker doesn't have those qualities?)  Her talk helped answer a very important question: why we have too few women leaders.

I would like to challenge, however, the widely held idea that since girls aren't becoming leaders as a result of naturally being less boastful, entitled, and commanding than most boys, girls need to start assuming those qualities in order to become CEOs. (That's paraphrased). This does, however, seem to be the idea-- girls don't speak up enough, take the lead enough, boast enough.

As Sheryl Sandberg pointed out, when girls try to be commanding, it's called bossy. When a girl boasts about her personal appearance or her latest work, it's being a show-off, etc. (This is all speaking in very general terms, mind you. If you haven't already watched Sheryl Sandberg's speech, …

TEDxRedmond not receiving support from local school district (at least not easily)

TEDxRedmond, the event I'm organizing with fellow youth (for the second year), is all about learning, inspiring, and doing good, from the unique perspective of young people. In response to the question, "Why attend TEDxRedmond?" we've heard amazing responses from attendees, like this from an 11-year-old: "I really, really enjoyed TEDxRedmond last year.  I loved that everyone there is trying to make the world a better place. Since last year I have been very busy trying to do the same.  I have been volunteering my time with the Riverview Youth Council,  I am the youngest in the group, most of them are in High School and I'm 11.  We work on teen suicide prevention, preventing tobacco use, and other healthy choices.  I also have been volunteering to serve food at tent city and helping the local women's shelter and sponsoring people on Kiva.  But the biggest thing I have been working on is anti-bullying.  I am working to help create a safe and bully free scho…

Supporting TEDxRedmond

I wanted to let everyone know about the youth event I'm organizing again this year (along with an amazing committee of fellow students): TEDxRedmond. An independently organized TEDx event (TED is a prestigious nonprofit and conference dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading), TEDxRedmond's goal is to promote youth voice on important issues ranging from education to the environment. You can watch videos from last year's conference on the website, and read about why people are signing up to attend this year. We've received phenomenal feedback about last year's event--young people, inspired by TEDxRedmond, have been building bully-free schools, raising money to fight disease, joining boards, and simply taking action to help others. 
We are struggling to find a major funding sponsor this year, unfortunately, which limits us in terms of how many people we are able to bring in from out of state. There are many amazing youth who live in California and the East Coast whom we wou…

New Short Story "Cartography"

One of my favorite parts of traveling is a rather non eco-friendly one, I'm afraid (although I always do recycle or have someone else reuse them)--I absolutely love using paper maps to navigate through a city's streets. While I'm not quite the younger "Ellie" in the story, the reasons for loving maps are pretty much all mine. This short story was inspired by my recent trip to Philadelphia, where I used maps a great deal. Hope you enjoy!


Apathy is defined as "lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern." I worry a lot about apathy toward, or superficial interest in, world affairs. Lots of people drive a Prius, dutifully donate the occasional hundred dollars to various respectable charities, and bring cans of food to their school's food drive. Maybe they buy organic food or pay an extra couple dollars for something that says "Sustainably Harvested." This is all great.

But aside from maybe buying "green" things, how many of these people actively advocate for issues? Turn on the TV not just to watch the Heat vs. the Mavericks, but to stay informed about the goings-on in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan (really any other part of the world besides the US)? A lot of companies are capitalizing on the "coolness" factor of doing good--Starbucks is trying to get its coffee sustainable, Target is donating 5% of profits to schools, etc.--but I think something that few people have addressed…

Prom--Or, an American Tradition Gone Awry

The other day my family went looking for prom dresses for my sister. The first place we stopped was an expensive boutique with thousands of dresses. As I was about to step inside, Adrianna remarked casually,

“This place is really crowded with dresses.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, assuming she meant densely packed on hangers, or maybe not much aisle space.

“You’ll see.”

As it turned out, the store was a claustrophobe’s nightmare—a thin bit of waddling space alongside giant round racks of dresses zipped up in plastic garment bags, every color and style imaginable. By the time we walked out (no dress in hand), it felt like Adrianna had tried every single one of them.

She finally found her dream dress in a less specialized department store (where the dresses also cost half as much). The emphasis was on finding something that would be long enough to also wear at a piano recital.

What’s funny about my sister going prom dress shopping with the rest of my family in tow is that my parents w…

Education Opinions Part 2: "Big" Changes

For those of you who haven't already seen Education Opinions Part 1, I recently discussed "small" changes I would make in education (school start times, recess, and lunches). Today I want to talk about "big" changes I would make in education (if I were in a position of incredible power!)--age-based grades, online learning, and authority hierarchy in school. 

Age-Based Grade Levels
I took two electives recently at Redmond Junior High. Everyone asked what grade I was in. It would go something like this:
"Adora, what grade are you in?"
"Ninth grade."
They look incredulously at my apparently seventh-grade style of dress (i.e., sweaters and shirts vs. tank tops and jackets) and say, "You're in ninth grade?"
"Yeah," I nod quickly, and explain, "I skipped a grade."

[Actually, it's feasible that I skipped two grades, since twelve-year-olds are often put in seventh grade (depending on when your birthday is) but u…

Education Opinions Part 1

My mom once asked me about the first steps I would hypothetically take to make a "better school." I don't claim to be an education expert, but I do have personal opinions about the ideal school--one I'd like to go to. Among many other things, I said that I would change school starting times, improve cafeteria lunches, and bring back recess. These would be good first steps because they help a lot of students a little bit. Given, they do touch the surface, but they can have wide-reaching impacts.

"Small" Measures: Starting Times, Recess, and Lunches
Starting Times
Studies have repeatedly shown that everyone, but children with developing brains in particular, need a good amount of high-quality sleep. It's difficult to get when you have to worry about waking up at 7 in the morning to go to school. Not everyone is a morning lark, and by starting school so early, not only students but also educators have to stave off yawns throughout the day.

I was at a confer…

New Short Story

I was inspired to write this one by the recent story of the piano on the sandbar in Florida's Biscayne Bay. It's similar to another one of my stories, A Gossamer Inch. It seems like my characters lean towards old ladies. Maybe it's my alter ego. :) You can find my other short stories on my Scribd collection.