On School Life & the Supreme Court – a quick update

Remember how at the end of summer I was super gung-ho about posting a “Learn->study->explain” post each week?

Well, I think the fact that I haven’t posted a single one yet 3 weeks into term shows you how much of a flop that whole plan was.

Why haven’t I posted one yet?

  1. I’m not really sure how to word the thing without basically retyping out all my notes, which won’t exactly help me memorize the content (there is a reason I always handwrite my notes in class). Also, there might be the issue of inadvertently violating the copyright of the class material.
  2. I’m wasting my down time right now because my brain is still in vacation mode – what with the typhoon 2 weeks ago, Mid Autumn festival off last week and National day today
  3. It’s hard to organize the thing, since a lot of the content that stretches over several lectures

So instead of just typing out all my notes, I’m going to write a weekly reflection thing similar to what I did when doing CAS. What I mean by that is I will record hours spent on the material and rate how productive I was in each aspect.

In other news…

I’ve been spending some of my free time listening to the Christine Blasey Ford & Brett Kavanaugh testimony. It’s 10 hours long, but I feel as though I need to watch the whole thing, instead of just watching short clips of it.

There have been moments in my life where I feel as though I am part of history in the making.

Up until now, the short list of events consists of mainly the 2008 & 2016 elections, Snowden protests, and the Occupy Central/ Umbrella Revolution. This hearing is now on that list.

Because it marks a watershed moment in how we as not just Americans, but people as a whole, view issues related to sexual assault.

Because it shows how politicians are increasingly choosing their party over the people they represent.

Because it demonstrates a sea-change of people pointing to an issue and bringing it out into the light.

I am also a bit disturbed.

At how quickly seemingly bipartisan issues become politicized in today’s political climate.

At how fast outrage is generated in the masses through social media or traditional news organizations.

At what this means for the future of my country and its people.

I don’t know what the future brings, I can only state my thoughts and hope for the best.

Despite living in Hong Kong for so long, I still consider myself an American, specifically a Texan.

It’s where I was born.

It’s where I grew up and spent most my life.

It’s where I think of when you ask about my “hometown”.

I guess I feel so invested in this because while the decisions made don’t directly impact my day to day life here in HK, the implications have started to shift the way I view the USA I grew up to love.

Perhaps this is a bit too on the nose and patriotic for most of my audience, but I believe that the USA can be – and is at its heart – better than it is at the moment.

So I urge you, if you haven’t already – Register to Vote!

I’ve made a blog post in the past on how to do so in less than 20 minutes, so you have no excuse not to (well unless you aren’t eligable to). Whether you are voting in state, absentee or are an overseas citizen, I’ve got you covered.

Check it out here!

And…

Thank you Christine Blasey Ford & all of the other women who have come out with their stories.

Your bravery inspires us all.

-Rebecca

 

 

 

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🌀 Typhoon Mangkhut Photos 🌀

Taken the late in the morning after Typhoon Mangkut hit Hong Kong (September 17, 2018) –  the road-blocking trees and stuff had been cleared away by then thanks to the HK government services (you guys rock!)

So saw a lot of people out with brooms sweeping away leaves, fishermen trying to right their boats, restaurants attempting to stop water leakages or put up awnings, sanitation workers trying to keep up with all the trash now in the dumpsters and birds freaking the f out since every tree along the coast except for one and a few palms had fallen over.

Oh, and lots of little kids were having the time of their lives climbing branches and messing with the leaves – much to the dismay of their parents. 😀

And this was not the most affected area of Hong Kong, as while it has a coastline, it is toward the northeast of HK as opposed to the southwest where the typhoon passed (and HK luckily didn’t get the full brunt of the cyclone since the eye didn’t past over us)

But yeah the T10 was no joke – Mangkhut was up there as one of the worst storm in HK since records were kept 

-Rebecca

Typhoon Mangkhut & Hurricane Florence – My problem with hanging “leopard signs”

Currently stuck indoors due to typhoon Mangkhut (also known as Ompong in the Philippines since they go by different names).

It’s a BIG one, Catagory 5 on the Saffir–Simpson scale (the highest the scale currently goes to) and a T10 warning has been called for the Super Typhoon in Hong Kong. Luckily, it won’t pass directly over us (it will come about 100km away from HK island) but it certainly feels like it lives up to the monicker of Worst Typhoon in Living Memory.

Lights were flickering earlier today but things seem to have settled down momentarily, so we should be good (we are also prepped just in case things get worse! ). The main road in and out of where I live in Hong Kong has been blocked off by a downed tree, and the tv/social media/online news keeps talking about skyscrapers with smashed windows or flooding, but overall HK is as ready as it will ever be for it.

Tree
From the community FB page

Anyways, since I’m stuck indoors all day today, why not write a blog post?!

I need to talk about the reporting of the typhoon by certain news organizations, in particular, Fox News.

Now… (this is your cue to leave if you don’t want to listen to me talk about media bias in USA news)

I’m not the biggest fan of Fox, but it popped up in my news feed and I’d thought I should read through it before making a snap judgment, as so often happens these days on the internet…

And it may be because I’m a double-majoring Ecology & History university student, thus I care deeply about climate change while spending a good chunk of my time possibly over analyzing the underlying reason/meaning behind the use of certain words.

But this article annoys the heck out of me.

It is titled “2 storms, Florence and Mangkhut, different as water and wind” 

(Linked using donotlink.it so you won’t boost the site’s search engine standings, nor will it the website be able to track where you are coming from) – Check it out if you want to, and keep me accountable!

The general gist of the article is the two tropical storms occurring at the moment – Hurricane Florence in the USA Carolinas area & Typhoon Mangkhut/Omopong in South East Asia (mainly the Philippines, HK, Macao & China – although my relatives in Taiwan also felt some of the storm’s effects) are extremely different – like “wind and water”.

(By the way, meteorologically speaking Typhoons and Hurricanes are the same thing – tropical cyclones – they just refer to which side of the International Date Line the cyclone happens)

Specifically, it points out how:

  • Mangkhut has been a Cat. 5 storm while Florence was lowered to a Cat. 1 before making landfall
  • Mangkhut is “faster-moving” while Florence has been moving “at a pace slower than a normal person walks”
  • Mangkhut will likely be deadlier as it hit “disaster-prone” areas, while Florence’s “insured loses” will be higher
  • There are generally more cyclones in the Pacific than there are in Atlantic (23 vs 10 this year)
  • M was formed “further south and stayed south”, while F was out of the tropics by the time it made landfall
  • M grew in warmer waters, while F was “weakened by the dry air and upper-level winds”
  • M is much larger than F (325 miles/523km vs 195 miles/314km)

Harmless little article containing facts about two tropical cyclones….

Right?

Except as I’m reading it, the alarm bells in my head get louder and louder.

Because all I’m thinking is “Huh… so these cyclones are completely unrelated and it is just an odd, natural coincidence that they are happening at the same time”

And if that is from someone who has decided to make a career out of understanding the anthropogenic (=human-caused) effects on our natural world.

Imagine what the average, layman is thinking after reading this article.

Imagine the fuel this gives human-caused climate change skeptics (who dismiss our impact and insist that the soley change is due to natural fluxuations).

Imagine the ammunition it gives to ACTUAL climate change DENIERS (which is for some reason still a thing).

Since while the facts are mostly sound, they are organized to presents a specific, disingenuous narrative.

The article, by spending paragraph after paragraph pointing out the superficial differences between the two storms, fails to highlight the underlying point.

In the future, we will see wetter, windier and more intense storms like Mangkhut and Florence due to anthropogenic climate change.

Sure, the article does address the problem…

in an off-handed, cursory way…

using an indirect statement instead of a quote…

after 95% of the article…

which was spent pointing out every conceivable way the cyclones differ…

as well as how natural the large typhoons, especially in tropical Asia…

…and only mentions burning fossil fuels as a factor causing warming seas (a point so easily brushed aside by deniers that it might as well not be put in there).

It reminds me of the following exchange between Mr. Prosser & Arthur Dent in The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

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Image Source: Teepublic’s design by metacortexpod4 

Let me emphasize this again.

Typhoons & Hurricanes like Mangkhut and Florence will not be the last of such intense storms to affect us.

This will slowly become our new normal.

We aren’t at the point where we can consider reversing climate change or even stopping in its tracks.

We are still trying to convince people that maybe  just maybe – it might be a good idea to ease the pressure we have on the gas pedal as we dive headfirst toward the Cliff of Runaway Global Warming.

Change needs to happen:

  • Not a couple of decades…
  • Or a few years…

It needs to happen now!

Stop hanging leopard signs over the issues.

Don’t put in a throw-away line about global warming at the end of your article and pretend like it was the focus of your piece when you have spent the preceding paragraphs undermining the issue.

Just as democracy is only as good as the information people get, information can only be as good as people’s ability to access it. I’m worried that this is the road media will continue to take in the future, not as a means of conveying impartial information, but as a mechanism to propagate a certain ideological stance.

True, it has been happening for a while now, but it scares me how subtle it has gotten.

I genuinely hope this was just a case of Halon’s razor:

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity/ingorance”

But honestly, I’ve been burned too many times before.

This post has honestly gone on for a while, so even though I have much more to say, I am going to give it a rest for now.

If you like these long-form posts, let me know! I’ll be trying out a couple of new things on this site and seeing what sticks.

Stay safe HKers – hopefully, there won’t be work/school tomorrow!

-Rebecca


Update 17 Sept: So even though the T10 weather warning was taken down before today, there is no school/work due to clean up. Which just goes to show how crazy intense the typhoon was this time around, since usually the moment the warning goes down, it is back to business as usual.

Also while editing this post, I noticed that Fox changed the name of the article to:

US hurricane, Asian typhoon: 1 brings water, the other, wind

Like it is word-for-word the same article, by the same person, just the name has been changed and it has been given a new link so this version is the only one you see on the front page.

Not exactly sure why, but the new title is less infuriating than the old one, so I guess it’s slightly better?

Still doesn’t address the underlying point I made – in fact it might make it stronger since it shows that they are trying to highlight the superficial differences between the tropical cyclones to undermind how connected they are to climate change…

Or maybe they just thought the new title sounded better, who knows. Going to Halon’s Razor this one since I’ve got bigger issues to deal with right now…

So I finally received more info about my exchange trip…

You know, in that email I waited all summer for since I presumed that it would include things I couldn’t get otherwise, or talk about a special process I need to apply though.

Yeah about that.

It literally just consists of a single link… to the exact same public application page I found by myself during the summer…

Except now, instead of having several free summer months to fill it out, I have until the end of October…. when all my midterms are…. Great, just great.

So advice to future HKU students going on exchange:

When they say just wait until you get the email, what you should actually do is go to the uni application page and try to get as much done as possible WITHOUT sending it off

By the way, there might be less content than I expected in the next academic year given that I’ll be commuting (one and a half hours… each way…) to university due to a tragic incident at my hall (Wei Lun) involving the warden (it’s a long story but you can find it online). I’m not gonna post much about it since this isn’t that sort of blog, but just wanted to put that update out there in case people were wondering about why some of my future posts will be very short (and why I’ll be complaining about lack of sleep more often).

Also I’m trying to get into the habit of scheduling posts during my “hei” weeks (canto slang post coming soon!).

Cus it just occurred to me that I can do that, instead of writing all these posts on the actual day…

No learn -> study -> explain post for last week since it was syllabus week (I’ll combine any of last week’s stuff with this weekends post)

-Rebecca

 

New School Year, New Start!

First day of the new academic year!

It’s a day off for me though, since Monday field work stuff hasn’t started yet, so I have time to write this.

I’ve mentioned my terrible semester in a previous post. But yeah it sucked.

Like B-/Cs in classes for my major bad.

And it isn’t like I don’t know how to do well academically, I got a 3.88 gpa in my first year second semester. More like I haven’t been putting in the necessary effort to get stellar grades as of late.

Since, suprisingly, craming the night before studying..

This website will act as an accountability partner for me, to ensure that I actually study. It won’t be nice or pretty, just somewhere I can jot down the things I’m working on.

My ultimate goal for this semester:

Get a cgpa of 3.55 by the end of the coming semester (Year 3 semester 1)

This is because I want to be within striking distance to get First Class Honors by the time I go into my final year.

Note that the posts under this “Learn -> Study -> Explain” format:

  • won’t look pretty (in fact it will look down right ugly  be extremely utilitarian)
  • might contain some errors (if you spot any mistakes, or feel as though I could have explained something clearer, by all means feel free to contact me! I will fix it and give you credit!)
  • Will contain content that might not seem in any way related to each other except for the fact that they are the subjects I’m taking in university

We will see. Hopefully this works!

In other news, I’ve decided to merge my “Away In Leeds” blog with this one after consulting with some more experienced bloggers.

Basically since the content between the two blogs were pretty similar anyways, it wouldn’t make sense to split my audience for no reason.

Once I transfer the posts over, there will be some weird inconsistencies with the posts (since I wrote them as though they were on separate blogs), so I’ll probably be fixing in due time

In the mean time, the timeline for posts written in summer of 2018 will be off and really weird. Sorry about that!

Anyways, here’s to a more productive university year!

blackboard business chalkboard concept
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

-Rebecca

🗳️ How to Register to Vote, whether overseas or stateside! (USA Midterms 2018) 🇺🇸

I’m aware this topic is only applicable to a very, very small portion of my audience.

After all, this blog written by a Taiwanese-American student studying in Hong Kong, ocasionally talking about her future exchange trip to Leeds, England.

However, as I’m an American citizen (born and raised in Austin, Texas) I feel as though it is part of my civic duty to get the word out and encorage people to vote.

And while we are over 2 months away from the Midterm elections…

We are ONLY 42 days away from the registration deadline (October 9th for most states)!

Even worse, many states DON’T allow online registration for absentee overseas elections, instead requiring that a physical (snail mail) letter be RECIEVED by the county voting clerk BEFORE the deadline.

Which means that if you want to vote in the upcoming election, you really need to be thinking about sending out that ballot request form within the next few days!

Unfortunatly, it can be a pain to figure out how to register if you happen to be living or studying overseas like me. So to all my friends out there stuck in the same situtation as me, here is how you do it!

vote-1319435_640
Source: Amber Zen via Pixbay

How to vote as an overseas citizen

If you are:

  • an active duty member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine;
  • an eligible spouse or family member of an active duty member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine; or
  • a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. (<- my case)
  1. Go to FVAP.gov
  2. Click on the state you last resided in from the drop down menu (Texas in my case)
    1. Citizen but never lived in the USA? you might still be able to vote if you’re parents/legal guradian last resided in one of the states listed here
  3. Pay attention to the 3 deadlines in the blue box (it’s different for each state)
    1. Registration – If you have never voted overseas before, pay attention to this.
    2. Ballot Request – For people who have registed before, but just need the ballot.
    3. Ballot Return – This is when you need to return the ballot it by (more on that in the future).
  4. Scroll down to the “Register to vote…” section
  5. Choose to either fill in the necessary data with EITHER the online assistant or download+print the FPCA and fill it out by hand
  6. Complete the information according to instructions
  7. Mail it to the appropriate county voting clerk (if applicable)
  8. DONE! – Now just wait until they send you your ballot in October

Here is a short video about the process (it’s a screen capture of my phone so the quality isn’t great but you get the general gist of it):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_9-T2Eiayv8gYtFNehsERIVr8akgBp8C/view?usp=sharing

~~~~~

What if I’ll be unavailable/absent during the election, but will still be living in the USA?

If you would like to vote absentee, but are NOT residing overseas:

  1. Go to usvotefoundation.org/
  2. Click on the blue “Register to vote absentee ballot” button. (top left on website, menu button on mobile).
  3. Scroll down to the “Register to vote…” section
  4. Complete the information according to instructions
  5. DONE! – Now just wait until they send you your ballot in October

~~~~~

What if I want to register to vote at my local polling place?

If you would like to register to vote in state:

  1. Go to this eac.gov/ link
  2. Click on your state
  3. Click on the red “Register to Vote” link – it is the second one down
  4. Complete the information according to instructions on the state’s website (sorry I can’t give more detail, every state has a different system)
  5. DONE! – Be sure to show up and vote on November 6th!

~~~~~

No mater which method you use…

Register and vote!

Because this time, it’s too important not to.

– Rebecca

vote-3569999_640
Source: Mohamed Hassan via Pixbay

P.s. In the future, I’ll try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible, but for now…

#BetoForTexas 😛

An Update – What I’ve been up to…

Hi Readers,

I’ve been taking some time off to rest and relax, since… welll…

I crashed and burned last semester trying to take 6 courses, many of which also had full lab components with weekly expermiments + lab reports etc.

So I was sorta ignoring this blog for a while to just get away from writing stuff that had to do with academics and school. I hope you all understand, I might go into more depth about it but that is for a future post.

But I’m back now!

With more posts on the horizon so that I can get back into a productive mindset for the new sememster coming up. Fresh new start and all that!

In other exciting news, I’m going on exchange to the University of Leeds during my spring semester! (yes during Brexit)

So if you want to know more about that, I have a new blog “Away in Leeds” that basically talks about me preparing for that trip. It will also have a bunch of stuff related to HKU university life, in case people are thinking about going on exchange TO my university.

Link to that blog is HERE! (there are only half a dozen posts there at the moment, but with much more to come – especially in 2019)

So what will happen to this blog?

This one will be more academic related and goal oriented, while the other will talk more about hku culture and exchange planning.

I’ll test this two blog format out and see if it works, but I wanted to have a separate blog for exchange stuff, so that people could just look at the stuff they are interested in, rather than everything to do with my university life.

Lastly, there will be a new post coming out tomorrow about registering to vote in the USA Midterm Elections!

(Both because it is an important topic and because I feel as though you all deserve to have more posts after such a long absence)

So see you all tomorrow!

-Rebecca