"When you change the way you see things, the things you see change." - Author Unknown


Ralph E. Oesper Chemistry Awards 2017

The awards banquet for chemistry teachers and top students participating in chemistry competitions was held at Northern Kentucky University on Wednesday, April 26 by the Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society.

Four students from Mason High School earned the Level 2 Ralph E. Oesper Chemistry Award for Chemistry Olympaid. BT placed first in the tri-state region, two students tied for 2nd place and one earned 3rd place.

There were about ten students from schools in this area that received recognition for their achievement in the 2017 Chemistry Olympiad competitions.

Catch as many chickens as you can!

An excerpt from BT's speech she gave at school today. Save it here as one of my mementos.

Next year, we must look only forward. Don't look backward; we can't change the past. And just as importantly, don't look sideways.

Let me tell you a story. There was once a man who ordered a crate of live chickens from a chicken farmer, but he didn't know how many he was going to get. When the box was delivered to him, he discovered that all the chickens had escaped. So obviously this guy was really mad, and he ran all over the village catching chickens and stuffing them back into his box, and when he finally caught all the chickens he could find, he called the farmer and was like, "hey, all your chickens escaped from the box you sent me... I tried to catch all of them but now I only have ten! I demand a refund!" The farmer was like, "Uh, I only sent you eight chickens in the first place."

Because he didn't know how many chickens he was supposed to have, he wasn't limited by a number. If he had known there were supposed to be only eight chickens, he would have caught only eight chickens and just stopped there, even though he could have kept going. But he didn't limit himself -- he always assumed that he hadn't caught enough, that he was supposed to catch more.

Just like the guy who ordered chickens, we must not let our own preconceptions hold us back. Meaning that we can't look sideways at other teams: we must not think, if we're going to beat this certain team, then we have to obtain at least this certain score. Because if we say we're going to place at least this, then that's all we're getting, man -- no more -- we might do worse, but never better. We can't compare ourselves to others -- it might seem that that gives us something to work toward, and in the beginning, it might -- but once we get to a certain point, all it does is limit us.

We must set our own bar -- all that power is ours. Don't give that power to Solon, or Centerville, or Mentor. We've got to set our sights higher, We've got to set our sights higher -- don't aim for eight chickens -- catch as many chickens as you can. improve upon ourselves every time, overcome our own past records, accomplish our own goals, and the competition will naturally follow. Aim all that pent-up murderous rage not at conquering Solon, Centerville, or Mentor -- because we never know what they're going to do -- but at conquering all those tests, all those calculations, Abraham Lincoln's face on all those pennies -- these are the things we've got to conquer.

NHS Induction

That was a little moment BT had yesterday evening at an auditorium of Mason Schools.

BT's Favorite (for now) Band - BTS


Got this cartoon from an article on my phone. How lovely the old man is! It seems he had a fight with the old lady, is very mad at her - the anger manifests itself in the way he bites on his pipe. However, he is still caring about her by holding an umbrella for her while he sulks in the rain...

It says, "<3 is not a matter of not having dispute but still being there every time after the dispute."

(Image Credit: weixin.qq.com)

The Chemist :)

You-know-who was working in her chemistry lab class at school.

By the way, she is one of the top two performers who get to represent Mason High School to attend the National Chemistry Olympiad exam next week at Miami University Hamilton.
Above, one of her self-learning fun recordings that was added to my favorite collection.


Ha! I finally captured her to our home this year. For years I saw her sitting in our neighbor's yard but nowhere to be found in the nursery, which was quite irritating xD Her name is Viola - the same name as violin's sister. Now I'm quite pleased that I can watch her gleeful smiles and take care of her every day.


Someone texted me from the Summer Palace at the other end of the earth this morning. Who is that guy? I wonder... Anyway. Enjoy your meeting with Beijing Duck, have a great trip!

Scioly 2018 Division C Events

I was learning from Scioly.org and found the events of division C for next year (tentative) from its forum.

Event Name Category Requirement/Topic
Anatomy and Physiology Biology It is an event which tests students' knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of a human body. Each year concentrates on three systems. Topics may include diseases in those systems as well as the general anatomy and function of each system from the cellular to the holistic scale. 2018 will focus on Respiratory, Digestive, Immune system.
Astronomy Earth Science Teams answer questions on math and physics relating to the year's topic. 2018 will focus on Type II SNe & Stellar Evolution, or something with Galaxies
Chemistry Lab Chemistry It is an event where participants must learn the respective year's selected aspects of chemistry and perform a lab or a set of labs regarding those topics. 2018 will focus on Thermodynamics & something else, possibly Aqueous Solutions or Acids & Bases
Disease Detectives Biology It is an event that focuses on epidemiology, the study of diseases and how they spread. 2018 will focus more on foodborne illness.
Dynamic Planet Earth Science Glaciers will be the topic of Dynamic Planet for the 2018 season.
Ecology Biology Ecology is the study of how living things (biotic factors) interact with their non-living environment (abiotic factors). This includes the study of the various ecosystems and biomes.
Experimental Design Inquiry Students will be given several materials and asked to perform an experiment on a certain scientific topic. They will then be required to write-up the experiment in the "lab write-up," which will be used to score them.
Fermi Questions (replace Hydrogeology) Inquiry A Fermi question is one where a seemingly impossible-to-calculate answer is estimated.
Forensics Chemistry Forensics involves identification of powders, polymers, fibers, and hair samples, blood serum and fingerprint analysis, and interpretation of chromatography. Given a scenario and some possible suspects, students will perform a series of tests. These tests, along with other evidence or test results, will be used to solve a crime.
Game On Inquiry The objective of Game On is to create a game with the program Scratch. Scratch is a program that allows non-programmers to experiment and play with the basics of programming. It is a visual event-driven language in which you drag and drop blocks of code in order to create scripts.
Helicopters Technology Helicopters is a event in which students compete to build a balsa wood helicopter powered by a rubber band motor that has the longest flight time possible.
Hovercraft Physics Hovercraft is an event where teams must design and build a hovercraft. Teams will build self-propelled air-levitated vehicles, and also take a test on classical mechanics and other similar topics.
Herpetology (replace Invasive Species) Biology Deals with the identification and life science of different specimens of amphibians and reptiles.
Materials Science Chemistry Materials Science tests knowledge of the properties and characteristics of metals, ceramics, polymers and composite materials, with a focus on material characterization techniques, intermolecular forces, and surface chemistry.
Microbe Mission Biology Teams will answer questions, solve problems, and analyze data pertaining to microbes and microscopes.
Mission Possible (replace Robot Arm) Technology It is an event in which teams make a Rube Goldberg device which uses certain tasks and runs as close as possible to the ideal time to gain the maximum number of points. The scoring method and start, end, and bonus tasks that the machine must complete differ every year.
Mousetrap Vehicle (replaces Electric Vehicle) Technology It is a building event in which teams build a vehicle powered by one or two mousetraps. The vehicle must be capable of traveling down a straight track as quickly as possible, and stopping as close to the finish line as possible.
Optics Physics This event deals with geometric and physical optics, such as reflection, refraction, critical angle, electromagnetic and visible spectrum, lenses, and mirrors. Competitors for this event may bring any type of calculator and should have knowledge of SI units, as all answers will require a student to know and understand them. They must also complete the Laser Shoot, positioning mirrors around a barrier to get to a target on the wall.
Remote Sensing Earth Science Teams use remote sensing image, such as photographic and spectroscopic information, to analyze data.
Rocks and Minerals Earth Science Teams use their knowledge of rocks and minerals to identify pictures/specimens and complete a written test.
Thermodynamics (replaces Wind Power) Physics In this event you create a model or device that simply insulates a 250ml Pyrex beaker filled with 100ml of hot water. Your goal is to create a device that loses the least amount of heat after a period of time determined by the instructor (20-30 minutes). While your device is being tested you take a short test on heat (conversions, specific heat, etc). The starting temperature can be anything from 60 degrees Celsius to 90 degrees Celsius (determined by the instructor). Participants will also need to estimate the amount of heat lost according to graphs made prior to the competition
Towers Technology Given certain parameters of length, width, height, and material, each team is to design, build and test the lightest and tallest tower to carry a maximum standard load.
Write It Do It Inquiry One team member is given a structure built from some sort of construction materials; the same member then writes a set of instructions on how to build it. The other team member is given the instructions written by their teammate and a set of unassembled materials to attempt to recreate the object as accurately as possible.

The Top 3 Teams

Got the 2017 Ohio State Science Olympiad Tournament complete results of top 3 teams from ohso.osu.edu.

Solon is Solon again, although they didn't place 1st. An extremely strong, if not invincible, team who swept 9 gold medals Saturday and goes to nationals every year. Although they did badly in Optics and Write It Do It this time, overall they beat Mason by 2 points. Phenomenally, their students seem to have super power for building events, like Electric Vehicle, Robot Arm, Towers etc., where Mason kids always have been struggling with. I'm sure those moms and dads working in diversified manufacturing industries in Cleveland area were not just sitting there watching. Who knows what they have done. Also, Mentor is always a very strong team too, and don't forget about Centerville. Perhaps there is still a very long and rocky way ahead for Mason on the road to nationals.

Event Name Mentor H.S. (1st) Solon H.S. (2nd) Mason H.S. (3rd)
Anatomy and Physiology 3 6 1
Astronomy 5 2 3
Chemistry Lab 2 3 1
Disease Detectives 3 2 1
Dynamic Planet 3 1 2
Ecology 8 6 4
Electric Vehicle 6 1 3
Experimental Design 1 2 6
Forensics 2 1 3
Game On 1 2 7
Helicopters 5 6 4
Hovercraft 1 3 2
Hydrogeology 6 5 4
Invasive Species 2 1 6
Materials Science 7 1 9
Microbe Mission 3 4 1
Optics 3 18 4
Remote Sensing 4 3 2
Robot Arm 6 1 9
Rocks and Minerals 3 1 5
Towers 2 1 7
Wind Power 7 1 2
Write It Do It 6 24 11
Total Points 89 95 97
Total Gold Medals 3 9 4

Scioly State 2017

Science Olympiad state level tournament took place on Saturday, April 1st @OSU. There were over 40 teams from schools all over Ohio (in each of 2 divisions: B and C) that competed in this tournament. 15 members and some alternates from Mason High School Scioly participated. BT and her partner won 1st place in Anatomy & Physiology, 1st place in Microbe Mission, 1st place in Disease Detectives, and 4th place in Ecology (Her major events are Anatomy & Physiology and Microbe Mission) for the team. But overall the team placed 3rd with 97 points (a great achievement compared to the points earned last year), just 2 points away from the 2nd place team, Solon High School, who will be going to nationals along with the 1st place team, Mentor High School, in May.

After the awards ceremony, the kids were sitting and crying together on the ground of the French Field House. It was a heartbreaking, narrow loss.

I found it difficult to name my feelings about the result. For this Scioly competition, BT cancelled a series of her music lessons, gave up all my leisure plans, and dedicated all her time over spring break to studying. Also, she was one of the semifinalists in Biology Olympiad (USABO) (out of 6 total from MHS) and has the USABO semifinal exam on April 2nd, the very day after Scioly State, but she chose Scioly over USABO and devoted all her time only to studying for Scioly instead of biology. She wanted so much to make the dream of the Scioly team come true - going to nationals in May.

But that day won't come this year. Apparently there is still a distance ahead of them before they reach their goal. I believe it takes time, just like all other great things, plus the ingredients of good communication, cooperation and teamwork. It is a great chance to practice perseverance, fortitude, and sustaining of hardwork. The result might not be so bad to the growth of the kids after all.

BT's Events on Saturday 4/1/2017 @OSU
Home Base: Baker Systems 0144
Team#: C17

1) 8:15 am Microbe Mission @Cunz Hall 140
2) 9:30 am Disease Detectives @Cunz Hall 180
3) 12:15 am Ecology @Journalism Building 270
4) 2:45 pm Anatomy @Dreese Laboratories 305


This Saturday BT will be one of the members (4 seniors + 9 juniors + 2 sophomore girls and some alternates) taking part in the Science Olympiad State competition at Ohio State University. This spring break has been packed with intensive studying preparing for this important tournament - it will decide the top two schools from the state, who will go to Nationals.

Yesterday, BT received a gift bag delivered in our mailbox from her coach and chemistry teacher, which includes her homemade cookies, candies, an encouranging flier, and letter. She says, "You are not just brilliant but a-MOLES-zing in every way..BELIEVE and together, as a team, we shall ROLL-Over the competition...."

Good luck BT! Good luck Mason!

14th Visit: Lepard + Jaguar Again

Two things were special about this trip. Firstly, BT was in her CNHS (Chinese National Honor Society) spiritwear she designed this school year (Members submitted their designs; BT's won the vote). It has a large fortune cookie on the front and says "Fortune smiles upon you" and "You crack me up!". On the back, it says "We live in the global village, let's learn Mandarin together" in Chinese.

Also, it was the anniversary of our orthodontic journey! The doctor said there will be another couple more adjustments and we'll be done. It was an easy and quick visit this time; we kept the upper and lower wires with some tiny bends. The rubber bands were the same: on the left, kept using Leopards (size 5/16" or 7.93 mm) with the same pattern - from top 3rd to bottom 4th and 6th; on the right, used Jaguars (size 1/4" or 6.35 mm) from top 3rd and 4th to bottom 4th. And she has decided her favorite color for braces: light blue!


Look who were sitting in my car today on my way home from a store! I'm addicted to them, am I not? How challenging and dangerous it was to drive with such beauties! I just couldn't resist the temptation of taking them home when they came into my sight. They are absolutely pretty and addictive... so it is not my fault :)


These are my babies I carried home 5 years ago. I've been watching and taking care of them since then. An extraordinary species - my passion for them grows with time. They don't require much except my commitment, patience and perseverance. I love them with all my heart, and apparently they love me too :)


It saddens me watching people perceive and react to others and surroundings in an incomprehensive way. I was thinking about it and seeking the answers. Everything happens for a reason, I believe. Here are my observations and what I have concluded after my days of reflections.

Signs of paranoia:
. Strong sense of insecurity
. Always feel that others are maliciously plotting against him/her
. Consistent fears that people will take away his/her money or possessions
. Overly suspicious about everything no matter how kindly he/she is cared by others
. Isolate him/herself with strange thoughts and refuse to communicate openly
. Apathetic about others and indifferent even to the fond and the most sincere acts from people who care about him/her

Causes of paranoia:
. Childhood experience. People grow in different families and environments. Sadly children in violent, neglected, abusive families get hurt and traumatized; they don't trust others and naturally grow up as mistrustful adults.
. Life Experience. Bad memories from working/living with stressful encounters can easily trigger paranoia.
. Health condition. Physical or mental health issues make anxiety and fear occur more frequently.

The right way to support them, I think, is to listen to and understand them and never get infected by their thoughts and behaviors. A good article on this subject can be found here.


Got this plaque from a local store. The words seem quite cliché, but I still put it on the wall in the laundry room to the garage where it reminds me like an old lecturing professor every day :)

Scioly Regional 2017

Science Olympiad Regional Tournament on Saturday March 4 @Xavier University. Two teams (A and B) and several alternates from Mason High School participated it. It was the key competition for choosing the schools from each region to go to state.

MHS Team A placed 1st by sweeping most of the events and will compete @Ohio State University on April 1. BT placed 1st in Anatomy & Physiology, 1st in Microbe Mission, 1st in Ecology and 4th in Disease Detective. Also, Mason Middle School placed 2nd overall and will go state next month as well. BT was jumping as she has been helping the MMS team, and the MMS Microbe Mission students, whom she has been tutoring, placed 1st!! I'm so proud of her sustaining vigor towards her study in science and doing what she wants to do.

The weather was snowy and chilly but we had a glorious joyful day! Hooray for Mason!

Perfect 10 Abs!

I had a sweaty day today, morning and afternoon...

Common Sense

From Wikipedia, "Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that are shared by ("common to") nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate."

I never thought I would need to talk about this subject because I thought all human beings should know it very well... it's just common sense. But common sense is not common at all, I sadly found.

So I wrote down some of these very basic components of effective communication, for BT and for those who need them:

1) Be honest and truthful. This is #1. Period.

2) Attitude and sincerity are everything. They set the tone for any discussion or argument. Without sincerity and good attitude, all efforts would be put in vain.

3) Treat people the way you want to be treated. So basic. My gosh.

4) Change perspective. Observe the subject from different angles.

5) Analyze the issue/project objectively.

6) No personal attack in any discussion, business or personal.

7) No emotional words for any business discussion.

8) Apologize sincerely if it's your fault, and analyze the reason/circumstances that caused the issue.

9) Most important, always appreciate what you received from others.

I never thought I had learned these things from my parents when I was with them in China, but now I realized what they have done for me. I'm very grateful for that.

(Photo above: BT's maternal grandparents when they were in 1960s.)

Forgiveness is NOT a choice...

In daily life we are pushed for forgiveness for many reasons - for the sake of our own health, for better days, for religion, or even for our love for others. Unfortunately, I found that expecting forgiveness unconditionally is neither reasonable, fair nor practical. It doesn't feel right and it doesn't happen naturally.

In my view, it is like the circumstance when your car gets damaged in an accident. Expecting forgiveness unconditionally is like you expect the damage on your car to go away by itself. It is laughable, unrealistic, and can never happen. The fact is that the dent on your car will stay there no matter how hard you fantasize or say your prayers. The only possible way to restore the car is to have it repaired in an auto collision center.

Today I was reading an article, "When You Can't Forgive", online which I found quite paralleled my view.

According to the article, "Forgiveness is not a choice we get to make, it's something that tends to happen naturally when certain conditions are met. And Condition #1: A good apology. If there's none, or if it doesn't seem sincere, a key ingredient goes missing. " The effect of apology is just like the repair to the damaged car; it is the crucial healing process and it takes time. And sincerity is like the quality of the auto parts, material, and labor put into the repair; it is impossible to fix the car without all the essential elements.

This article explains forgiveness as an emotion that we cannot get to choose and analyzes the conditions for it to happen. A great read!

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