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Tuesday

I never met (not entirely accurate, but I was too young to remember him) my grandpa (my dad’s dad) and so I don’t know what he was like, not really. But he was a philosophy professor and many people on my dad’s side of the family are teachers: my uncle, at least three (immediate) cousins, my grandma (married to my dad’s dad).

I’ve never really considered being a teacher. I don’t want to be a teacher of high school kids or below because I feel that many kids don’t care, and that takes the passion out of it. But I was thinking about what my mom said yesterday just now (because Google announced it to be National Teachers’ Day), and I was thinking about teaching people that wanted to learn, and I felt passionately. I felt like that was what I want to do desperately. And I think that that’s surprising. I never imagined myself as a teacher, like I said. I especially don’t want to teach the same stuff over and over once I’m over it. But what I do want to do is gather information, learn deeply, process it, explain it, and move on to other information. That is exciting.

Yesterday, my mom picked me up from school like always because I’m the only teen at my school that doesn’t have a car. (The driving manual is boring, I don’t have the time, and I don’t really feel motivated to get a car. I don’t currently have a need for one.) In the car, we talked about how I felt frustrated at my French project about French Polynesia. Don’t get me wrong: it’s absolutely fascinating, if you go deeply into it. But my teacher wasn’t giving us the time to, and I have so much other homework I’m receiving (in addition, I am studying for my final exams) that I had to go shallowly into the water, but that was very disappointing for me and caused me frustration. I wanted to learn everything. But I have understood that I can’t. I have an obsessive nature (which school and life force me to suppress) when it comes to learning, and I love to go deeply into things, but the real world keeps me on a leash because I am never given the time to just devote myself to one thing. I also can’t decide on one thing.

My mom said that I’ve always been this way. Obsessive about information. I always get excited about research projects because I really want to research. But the thing is, if I do it for myself, it kind of doesn’t mean much. I want to give it to people. I want to teach to people. I think one of the things which has held me back is that I don’t see much of an audience for what I have to say.

But who cares. Just one person matters. Teaching it to one person only is enough, if they care.

I just thought today, when I considered teaching all the different subjects my heart desired, that that was the most satisfactory, most wonderful thing I could, at the moment, think to do. Especially if the people cared about learning, it would be simply wonderful to explain. Learning and teaching, I feel, are beautiful things not appreciated enough. Some teachers at my school hate being teachers, hate to teach, hate to explain. Like they don’t understand the beauty of knowing, of understanding, the beauty of the science and the math and other subjects…

So I thought, I want to try teaching. I want to attempt to satisfy that need. I thought about teaching on my blog. It’s sort of what I already do, but I could do it more consistently… I could put more effort into it. The thing is, many times that I have knowledge, I don’t have the time to explain it because I have to put that knowledge to use. I suppress that desire, just like I suppress the desire to understand everything I can deeply. I even thought about stripping this blog of its… personal content and making it something more “professional”—something more serious for me so that I would feel that this was more than a hobby I could casually neglect and rather, an obligation. Because no matter how much I love to do certain things, if I feel that they’re just hobbies, work that must be done for school comes first because it must be done. It’s a have-to, not just a want-to.

Hmm. I want to start over, but at the same time… I don’t. I’ve made some awesome acquaintances here, I’ve explored some blogs, I’ve shared things that mattered. I’ll stay as opposed to starting a new blog and identity, but this blog of mine may serve a new purpose.

Wednesday

For my French project, I’ve been learning a bit about French Polynesia. When I sought to learn about its environmental issues, I found that Polynesia was used as a test site for nuclear tests performed by the French. The French, between 1960 and 1996, performed 210 nuclear tests in Algeria (Africa) and French Polynesia. (193 nuclear tests were performed in French Polynesia.) Polynesia lies in the Pacific Ocean.

Nuclear fallout washed all of Polynesia. In one explosion on the Mururoa atoll, Tahiti received 500 times the maximum accepted amount of radiation.

at·oll

ˈatˌôl,ˈatˌäl

noun

a ring-shaped reef, island, or chain of islands formed of coral.

The atoll is southeast of the island Tahiti (which contains Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia).

(Thanks, Google Maps.)

France had previously hidden the true toxicity of the nuclear tests and the reach of their radiation. Recently declassified documents have revealed all this information. The Mururoa atoll alone has been the site of so many tests that it may just collapse.

Related image

Veterans and civilians in Polynesia have formed groups and sought compensation for the health problems caused by these tests. Investigators have found high levels of cancer in Polynesia. This is tragic.

But it’s not surprising.

Very few people have received the compensation they deserve from the French government. It wasn’t until 2010 that it agreed to offer compensation. Controversially, Jacques Chirac, a former French president, resumed nuclear tests soon after being elected in 1995. What also appalls me–though it shouldn’t surprise me–is the lack of protection that workers received, as reported by the troops, during nuclear explosions.

During the Mururoa tests in French Polynesia in the late 1960s, one veteran described how he was stationed in shorts and a T-shirt on a boat only about 15 miles from the explosion before having to sail immediately to the area of the vast mushroom cloud to examine the damage.

Others on different tests wore shorts and had no sunglasses; they were told simply to shield their eyes and turn their backs at the time of the explosion.

Read the full article here.

Sunday

Hank Green on Crash Course introduces stoichiometry as a way to measure chemicals going into or coming out of chemical reactions. Measuring these things allows us to determine how many molecules or atoms there are within a substance.

If you’ve ever looked at the periodic table of elements, you’ve probably noticed numbers below element symbols.

For example, below the element hydrogen’s symbol–H–is the number 1.006. This is the atomic mass of one hydrogen atom… more or less. You see, this number, 1.006, is actually the average atomic mass of all of hydrogen’s naturally occurring isotopes.

(Some isotopes don’t exist unless they are made by people, so naturally occurring isotopes refers to isotopes found in nature/ found naturally.)

The element hydrogen has 3 naturally occurring isotopes. Let me first explain what an isotope is, though. Atoms are made of protons (+), electrons (-), and neutrons (neutral charge), right? Atoms never lose or gain protons (protons being in the nucleus/ center of the atom), so if you know the number of protons an atom has, you know the element that atom belongs to. The periodic table helps you with that. For example, say you are trying to identify the element of an atom that has 52 protons. On your periodic table, locate the element which has the atomic number 52. The atomic number says how many protons an element’s atoms have. Te, tellerium, has 52 protons. Therefore the atom is a tellerium atom.

I’m not done explaining. Hydrogen has 3 naturally occurring isotopes, called hydrogen-1 (protium), hydrogen-2 (deuterium), and hydrogen-3 (tritium). These all are hydrogen atoms, and thus have the same number of protons. On the periodic table, it can be seen that hydrogen has 1 proton (because 1 is hydrogen’s atomic number). Therefore 1H, 2H, and 3H each have 1 proton. Yet their atomic masses are different. All isotopes of an element have different atomic masses.

Okay, but what is atomic mass? Electrons have a very small mass. It is so small that, in measurements, it is practically insignificant. That is why, when figuring out the atomic mass of an atom, we ignore the mass of the electrons. Hmm. So what do we pay attention to? Well, we pay attention to the mass of protons and neutrons, but that’s it. When finding out the mass of an atom, you add the mass of its protons to the mass of its neutrons, ignoring the electrons’ mass completely.

So, the (atomic) mass of an atom = proton mass + neutron mass.

All protons have the same mass. So if you know how many protons there are in an atom, you multiply that number by the proton mass to get the mass of the protons for that atom. All neutrons have the same mass. (All electrons have the same mass, too, though you won’t need to deal with electrons’ mass.)

This is logic right here. Check it out. You have isotopes 1H, 2H, and 3H, all hydrogen isotopes. We still don’t know what isotopes are–what makes one isotope of hydrogen different from another hydrogen isotope. (I couldn’t explain it to you right away because there was background knowledge you needed in order to understand.) But we know that all hydrogen isotopes have the same number of protons, and thus the same proton mass.

Here. The bold text is what is the same. It’s very simple. The atomic masses are different, but the proton mass is the same. Well, atomic mass is proton mass + neutron mass, and so the neutron masses must be different.

Atomic mass of 1H = proton mass + neutron mass

Atomic mass of 2H = proton mass + neutron mass

Atomic mass of 3H = proton mass + neutron mass

That’s it. Every isotope of an element (like hydrogen for example) has a different number of neutrons. Different number of neutrons means different neutron mass, which means a different atomic mass. So as you have seen, not all of hydrogen’s atoms have the same mass. If all of hydrogen’s atoms had the same mass, that number would go on the periodic table, no doubt. But since that is not the case, but a number must go on the periodic table, the average mass of all of hydrogen’s natural isotopes is used. After all, we need to know the (atomic) mass of 1 hydrogen atom to perform calculations… and it wouldn’t be practical to find out how many 3H or 2H or 1H isotopes there are when performing calculations, would it? Not when you’re dealing on such a large scale. You see, we are massive, as Hank Green put it. We don’t think of ourselves that way, yet we are. We consist of such tiny things, but we deal with enormous things. A grain of rice is enormous, when you think of all the atoms that make it up. So… it wouldn’t be practical to be perfectly accurate, because that would require knowing too much.

Moving on. What’s in a name? Why is the hydrogen-1 isotope labelled that way? How are isotopes named? By the way, let me mention that those 3 hydrogen isotopes (1H, 2H, 3H) can also be written as 1H, 2H, and 3H.

The way you distinguish one isotope from another is that you write the element name or symbol, along with the mass of that isotope.

Carbon-14 (14C) for example, is a carbon isotope with an atomic mass of 14.003242. 3H (hydrogen-3/ tritium) is a hydrogen isotope with an atomic mass of 3.0160492.

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Image result for sputnik 1 size

Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4 in 1957, beginning the Space Age. Sputnik 1 became the Earth’s first artificial satellite. (The Earth already had a satellite at the time: the moon. A satellite can be an artificial object placed in orbit around a celestial body (like a moon or planet) for communication or information-gathering purposes. A satellite also can be one celestial body in orbit around another.) The Russian word for satellite is спутник, and it sounds like “sputnik.” That is how the satellite acquired its name.

As you can see from this picture, the satellite was not very big, measuring just 22 inches in diameter.

Image result for sputnik size

Sputnik 1 was about 184 pounds and took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to circle the Earth. It moved at 18,000 miles per hour. Its orbital was not perfectly circular, but rather elliptical. Its apogee was 584 miles; its perigee was 143 miles.

The apogee of an orbit is the point of the orbit that is farthest from the orbited body. A satellite in orbit around a body (e.g. a planet around the Sun) is farthest from the body when it reaches the apogee.

On the contrary, the perigee of an orbit is the point of the orbit that is closest to the orbited body. A satellite in an orbital will be closest to the orbited body when it is at perigee.

It could be seen with binoculars only before sunrise or after sunset–but not while the sun was in the sky. Sputnik 1 was about 10 times bigger than the satellite the U.S. had planned on sending into orbit… next year. In January 1958, the satellite burned up in the orbit as expected, and on that same month the U.S. launched the satellite Explorer. This fairly rapid advance in the U.S. space effort was largely due to the banding together of the scientific community, the military, and the government to catch up to the Soviets. This started the Space Race.

Monday

(Warning: here the post gets more personal)

I’m in the room, it’s a typical Tuesday night,

I’m listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like

And she’ll never know your story like I do

That song hasn’t gotten old. I love the melody, and sometimes the song can even be tragic, like right now.

I can relate to something about the yearning in the singer’s voice.

Yesterday my feelings were all… confused and jumbled, and I had to let it out, so I began to write to you. But once I had written out all my mess, I deleted it all.

I wonder if F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of The Great Gatsby, also had more to say but refrained from doing so out of fear, shame, and whatnot. Probably. Homosexuality wasn’t as accepted in the time of his writing it, though I have no idea what his sexuality was.

But… well, you could say my current state of uncertainty and introspection, my current melancholy feelings, are due to my reading of the book I just mentioned. It occurred to be that Nick might be in love with Gatsby, but I guess I’ve long lost sensitivity to romantic feelings between two members of the same sex. I didn’t notice so many things that were pointed out to me by others. But once I neared the end of the book…

Warning: spoilers

…and after I had already started watching the most recent movie in class, I looked something up about the book. It was unrelated. But I saw that that was a search–that others had wondered if Nick loved Gatsby.

It was too late to read the whole story with that belief in mind. I was at the end of the story by then. It was after Gatsby died. But the idea that Nick might be infatuated with him gave the entire story a different meaning. It changed every aspect of it. I felt compassion and sadness. Frustration and hopelessness. My previously indifferent feelings for Nick became much more understanding and sympathetic.

I understood many things about the book. Gatsby, for example, is the one person the book is all about. Nick approves of him even after he disapproves of everyone else. But why? Gatsby was dishonest and shallow. He engaged in illegal activities to gain his money, he sought to destroy Tom and Daisy’s marriage, he was in the car that killed Myrtle and ran from the scene. What made Gatsby special? I myself had a more objective perspective. I may have been a bit harsher on Gatsby, but I wasn’t infatuated with him. Love warped Nick’s judgement.

It was a love story. Love existed between so many characters but the most obvious love was invisible to my eyes until others pointed it out. I was initially slightly opposed to thinking of the story in that way–I was opposed to thinking of Nick as gay. Not because I have anything against it, but because it didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t see it. But then I thought it through a bit more, and my opinion has changed.

And that’s a big deal. Romantic love and sexuality are a big deal.

This is an aspect where I find it a little hard to be open about my own feelings. I feel especially weak and vulnerable, especially exposed, especially afraid. I am hesitant to write, hesitant to share. It shouldn’t be the way. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Because… something like this is so tender and intimate, and its hard to expose yourself when you expect mostly rejection. But I have to be the change I want to see. I want to see people accepting themselves and their differences more, not hiding who they are. That starts with me. I have to exit my comfort zone and do what I believe is the proper thing.

So… here is what I wrote yesterday. It’s a little late. I’ll put in between hyphens (-):

I want to write about something personal that is completely irrelevant… and that may be a bit uncomfortable for you. But it’s been bothering me, and this isn’t just an educational blog.

It’s interfering with my work. I’m trying to study for finals, but I keep thinking about this problem which seems… relevant. The more romance I see everywhere, the more I see relationships come into existence, bloom, and wither, the more I think about my own life, my own partner. And what he or she will be like.

I’m confused. I’ve been that way ever since my trauma, I think. It upset me deeply. It painted all of human sexuality in a negative light. It made me afraid of not having control, it made me repulsed by the thought of being dominated. The things I did in hopes of never being dominated, of always having control, completely changed my personality. I had a more artistic nature then. I wanted to become a writer. But I thought science would give me more control. Day after day, new activities changed the wiring in my brain and the course of my life. I don’t like to talk much more about it than I think is necessary, and of course you weren’t able to witness the change, but it was an extreme change–proving that the trauma deeply affected/ changed me.

The thing I think is unfortunate is that in romance, there always seems to be someone who is more dominant. I don’t know how well that works, because this has led to feelings of inequality which have resulted in an unhappy partnership for both.

To further complicate matters is the fact that I may be asexual. (Someone who is does not experience sexual attraction, but still can have sex and enjoy it/ feel romantic attraction/ desire a partner…)

If I am, then that explains why I don’t have those strong feelings of sexual attraction which would really help me sort all this out. For a time I thought marriage was pointless… for a time, I thought the best thing was a partnership with someone who you loved for their mind… but there are so many interesting people out there if you give them the chance, and yet I don’t feel… that kind of love for them.

Whatever “that kind of love” means. I have kept coming back to fictional writing…  not journal writing anymore though because I guess I’ve given up on solving these problems. I’ve thought it through for years, always thinking I’ve come to some conclusion on who I am and then trashing it because I see its flaws. I’m sick of this tiresome cycle, and I haven’t any faith in finding an answer. But I want to, because… nobody wants to be crippled. Nobody wants to see everyone else feeling something you can’t feel. You keep on grasping at it, out of hope that never really fades, thinking that maybe you have been looking in the wrong place.

You don’t want to accept that you just can’t feel the same way. It’s too sad, too lonely… it means that one form of happiness will be forever beyond your grasp.

For some reason I’m reminded of Gatsby, reaching out to the green light across the bay where Daisy is. Gatsby is part of the reason I’m in this mess. That shallow book turned things around again. I was fine not knowing, I finally decided I was okay not knowing, but that book consumed hours of my life in which I couldn’t help but wonder… what it felt like to be in love. To really love someone. But does it matter? Has anyone really found it? I don’t even know what I’m looking for. Passion? It won’t last. Can it last? I haven’t seen it last in anyone.

Occasional passion, then? I don’t know if that exists. Familial love, friendship? Pshh, I already have that but that’s not what I’m craving. I wonder if this craving is one I should suppress. If it’s pointless.

There are so many questions. So many possible scenarios. So many conflicts within myself. I did like boys once. But it was a time in which I hadn’t even considered girls. I haven’t felt that again, that deep attraction. I wonder if I felt it toward boys only because I had not considered girls a possibility… I wonder if that feeling has stopped because I’ve grown as a person… I wonder if I suppressed it somehow,  I wonder if my preferences have shifted. I wonder if any of it matters. For a while, like I said, I thought it didn’t matter at all. I put the matter to rest. I buried the issue and pretended it wasn’t one. It was almost great. But then The Great Gatsby had to be read for school… and it made romance and love… so important. I couldn’t help but compare myself and my situation, and want to understand that feeling. Sometimes I even sort of wish I could understand… sexual attraction. Here, hovering where I am, not knowing where I stand, I feel lost, unsure of my identity… and scared that I can’t feel that way at all. Scared that I’ll never be able to understand what it seems that everyone else understands without having to think about it. Attraction.

I know that it involves the body, and beauty… but doesn’t it also involve personality? It seemed Gatsby loved Daisy for her beauty and her manner but not much more. It seemed he felt attraction but not love. I wonder if part of what confuses me is that people mix up attraction with love very easily. Like people mix up university with college, they use those terms interchangeably. Because there are times when I feel that, not attraction but love, some sort of feeling that’s intense and where I feel I want to be with someone and give to that person all I can. I compiled a list of the personality traits all the people who have made me feel this way, even if only for brief moments. Most of them are female, but I think that’s because these personality traits are more common in women.

Maybe… I think that love is more important than attraction. I wonder how one would classify this love, since it seems sort of romantic in nature, but I hesitate to say ‘romantic’ because I associate it with other things I don’t feel. If I feel that for a certain person, but then I label it romantic, I expect myself to feel physical attraction. And I feel that others expect if from me, and I begin to notice appearances more, focusing more on what I feel that I should, and losing sight of what I loved about them in the first place.

Sigh. And I really just told you the tip of the iceberg. It gets pretty complex. I have all sorts of issues when it comes to this. There are so many conflicts, there are so many possible answers, there is so much I am possibly hiding for myself, there are so many answers I don’t want to hear.

When I used to feel that way… attracted to those individuals, I didn’t think about dominance. If I hadn’t been through the trauma which made me feel aversion for being controlled, perhaps I wouldn’t have minded it so much, perhaps I would have felt something which I may only be suppressing now. Another thing–perhaps I would’ve been more okay with being vulnerable. Now I’m very afraid of it. I’m ashamed of it. I don’t want anyone to control me… but I wonder if I’m denying certain aspects of myself. A primitive nature I can’t change.

After all, we can’t change things like sexuality. For someone like me, that’s a very uncomfortable truth. I don’t want to not be able to choose for myself what I want… I don’t want my primitive nature to have desires which clash with my superego‘s wishes. It may be id vs. superego.

I’m currently almost entirely opposed to the thought of liking boys. I’m afraid of being… weaker somehow if I do. Even as I say this I know it doesn’t sound right–I know I shouldn’t associate femininity with weakness, right? I’m afraid of being physically weaker, of being vulnerable in any way. I don’t want to give up any control. I don’t want the partner to take control and for me to let them.

I actually… realize that the whole conflict may be a result of my trauma. And other things. I realize that my confusion may stem from my desire to battle all these things, from my inability to accept defeat. I realize that my feelings may be oppressed or tangled with all my denial and fear so that I can’t see clearly how I really feel, or who I really am…

Because for one thing, I’m too afraid to accept whatever my real feelings about anything are. But it’s stupid… it’s such a stupid mistake to make, and yet here I am making it…

What is it I always criticize people for? For not accepting reality and instead believing in a more comfortable truth?

I guess it’s as my mom said. When we criticize others, we should look at ourselves and see if we aren’t making the same mistakes.

This is me talking on Monday again. I didn’t even read what I wrote yesterday–I don’t really want to.

I feel this incurable sadness for Nick’s condition. He was a real person (not technically)–or at the very least he represents people who really have undergone such suffering.

There’s some aspect of me that loves feeling emotional pain. Maybe that’s common and you’ll be able to relate. Sad stories suck, but there’s still something about pain that feels good. Even when I’m crying, it feels good. Sadness can be addictive in a way. But I guess happiness is better.

Sad stories leave me with a hole I can’t fix, something that will fade with time. Sadness is beautiful in its own way, like the rain. But what really hurts is that Nick was in pain.

And though I wish it would, writing can’t fix that, because writing can’t fix his situation.

Walk in the streets, just you and your worn-out jeans

I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be

Laughing on a park bench thinking to myself

Hey, isn’t this easy?

I don’t feel infatuation quite so easily anymore. Yesterday I forgot the word, but I remembered it now. It’s what I felt for Carl Sagan. It’s not realistic. It’s not real love. But it’s terribly intense and it’s real–it’s not like those feelings don’t exist. And when you feel that way it’s this terrible frustration, isn’t it? It’s where you almost worship someone, where you idealize them terribly?

It’s what Nick did with Gatsby, and what Gatsby did with Daisy. Despite all her wrong doings, I can’t help but like Daisy. I want her to be happy. I just don’t want anyone to be sad if I can help it, understand. It was a mess, because there was no way all three (Daisy, Gatsby, and Nick) could all get what they really wanted.

But… when I see videos like this one, where the melody carries emotions and allows me to be more in-tune with people’s feelings, I understand feelings like infatuation better.

And it’s so tragic how Nick never could get one little bit of satisfaction. We can never have all our needs met, but Nick never even had a chance, and that’s what messes my feelings up.

Because he knew that Gatsby would never look at him the way he wanted.

Because for all his feelings, he never received anything.

None were ever satisfied.

And you’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town

I haven’t seen it a while since she brought you down

You say you’re fine I know you better than that

What’cha doing with a girl like that?

Thanks for reading…

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