Friday, April 29, 2011

Boiling Grapes in Water— A Fine Recipe

A few days ago I found that the grapes in the fridge were almost rotten, and they did not taste very well. Since throwing these grapes out would be too wasteful, I decided to try something new with them— to boil them in water.

I put all of the grapes into a cooking pot, and added enough water so that the surface of the water would cover all the grapes. Then, I heated the pot until the water started to boil. At that point, I started using my spoon to squash all the grapes, and then I continued to heat the pot until the grapes could not decompose any further (or about 1 hour after). At the end the mixture looked like this:

The solid things that you see are the peels/skins

And another picture...

The thick mixture tasted very sweet (in a good way), and the grape peels had very good texture.The things you saw in the pictures were ready to serve! Of course you could cool it or even freeze it (I actually think it tastes best when frozen), or add a bit water to make it less concentrated.

Does it look better in a cup?

Overall, I think this went rather successful—the product was wonderful! Next time if your grapes are almost rotten, you may want to consider doing this too. :)


Today I had a chemistry test on stoichiometry, and we got 75 minutes to do five multiple choice questions, five true or false questions, and eight calculation questions.

Out of the calculation questions, question five was was supposed to be the hardest. It was a question that we had never discussed in class before and it involved quited many steps. As a result, I could not think of a way to solve this problem right away when I read the question.

As a habit, I always leave the hardest questions to the end and do the easier ones first, and this time was no exception. After thinking about the question for fifteen to twenty seconds and having absolutely no idea how to solve it, I decided to try questions six, seven and eight first.

Question six was easy. All that was required was to balance a chemical reaction and find the molar ratios between some compounds. This question was somewhat similar to the ones that we have done in class before, and I started doing the calculations as soon as I finished reading the question. As the question was not complex, I was soon moving onto part c). 

This was when my teacher spoke. He told us to change one of the values in question five, which basically meant that the people who had already finished doing the question would have to go back and change their answers. "Hehe," I laughed in my heart when I saw some other students fiercely turning their test papers and rubbing their erasers against the poor sheets of paper. "Lucky that I am not one of them," I thought. Then, my happiness level increased even more when I heard some people moaning about the change.

About five minutes later, when I was working on question seven, my teacher spoke again—he told us that question five would be disregarded because somehow he messed the numbers up. We would not need to do the question, and the question would basically be taken out of the test. This time the moaning became even louder because this meant that the people who had attempted at the question had just wasted their time, and some students even began to protest.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stoichiometry Note #2: Converting Moles to Molecules

Previous: The Mole and the Avogadro Constant                                   Next Molar Mass

The above formula is the formula for converting the number of moles into the number of molecules.

  • N: Number of molecules
  • n: Number of moles
  • NA :The Avogadro constant 

This should be quite straight-forward. We know that the Avogadro constant is  6.22×1023, meaning that there are 6.22×1023 molecules for every mole present, and therefore we multiply the Avogadro constant by the number of mols to obtain the number of molecules. This is the same as dozens. If one dozen equals to twelve, then three dozens equal to 3*12, which is 36. 

You can also use this equation to convert the number of molecules to the number of moles. You just change the equation a bit:


Other Important Information
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the variable n is the number of molecules, which is different from the number of atoms. For example, say you have 10 molecules of H2O, you will actually have 20 atoms of hydrogen because for every molecule of H2O, you'll have two hydrogen atoms (look at the subscript!)

A) How many atoms of magnesium are in 0.76 mol of a magnesium sample?
B) If there are  3.11×1024 molecules of gold in a sample of a metal, how many mols of gold are present in the sample?
C) How many atoms of potassium are in 0.880 mol of  K2O?

Another Way of Studying?

I have decided to try another way of studying. Instead of simply reviewing my notes and reading the text book, I would try to organize whatever I know into "lessons" -- basically I would make blog posts that would teach the material to other students. Actually, these posts/texts should should be called "notes" because I do not think that they will be good or clear enough for people to actually learn the concepts.

This would serve as a great opportunity for me to fully understand all the materials. By trying to communicate the ideas, I would really have to think over them and would in turn have better understandings of them. Doing so will also help me remember the materials, and perhaps my writing/communication skills will improve.

I hope that this method of studying will actually work for me and I also hope that I will be able to keep this up for a long time.

My first one is done!
Chemistry Note #1: The Mole and the Avogadro's Constant

Stoichiometry Note #1: The Mole and the Avogadro Constant

Next: Converting Moles to Molecules

There are tons of different units that we use to measure quantity, and they all allow us to communicate more easily when talking about certain things. For example, a dozen eggs means twelve eggs, and it will be much easier to say "twelve dozen eggs" than to say "one hundred and forty-four eggs." In short, by using these units, we can often make numbers a lot more simple.

One unit that is often used in chemistry is the mole. It is very much like the quantities"dozen" and "pair," in the way that it also refers a specific number. However, it refers to a seemingly strange and unusually huge number— 6.0221479×1023 .

This number is called the Avogadro constant, and has a symbol of NA. 

So how is the Avogadro constant determined? It is very simple—it is the number of molecules in exactly twelve grams of carbon-12 and it is obtained by conducting experiments. This means that as time progresses and our technology improves, we may be able to measure this number more accurately and the accept value for the Avogadro constant may continue to change over the years. 

Also, to avoid confusion, even though the value for mole is obtained by counting the number of molecules in 12 grams of carbon-12, the mole is a unit or a quantity that can be used for all types of molecules. For example, one mole of H2O will contain 6.0221479×1023  molecules of H2O and one mole of silver will also contain  6.0221479×1023 silver atoms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Rules influence people's behaviors in ways that allow our society to function. Without them, there will be no order in the world, and the world is going to turn into a complete chaos.

So why are rules effective in altering or influencing people's behaviors? I think this is quite obvious--people follow rules to avoid the bad consequences. In other words, the negative consequences serve as a disincentive for breaking the rules. For example, the possibility of getting fired precludes workers from not arriving at work on time, and potential imprisonment stop people from stealing items. 

However, what if a rule had no consequences for breaking it? Would it still be effective? I do not think so. For example, if there were no penalties for using hands while playing soccer, all players would naturally want to use their hands as it would be much easier to score that way. In fact, they would have to use their hands as it would be the only way to defeat the other team. This means that rules would equate to nothing if there were no negative consequences for breaking them.
Finally, I am getting to my point. As something similar to rules, due dates would also only be effective if there were consequences for not meeting them. In school, the most common consequence is getting a few percentages off of the final mark, and to me this is a reasonable and essential penalty because this makes it fair  for people who have handed their work on time and this is the only way to ensure that most students do not hand things in late.

Unfortunately, my career class happens to be a class where the due dates do not seem to be significant. Today we were supposed to be handing in our career wheels, but many people had not even start on theirs and the teacher extended it to tomorrow, with no penalty at all. What upset me was not the fact that they could hand the assignments in tomorrow, but the fact that the teacher did not seem to care at all and seemed to be ready to give out one-month extensions without penalties.

I wanted to ask him, "what's the point of having these due dates?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Back On Track

In a post in February, I talked about how I was going to study for vocabularies. I actually did, and in less than two months I have finished 900 words on the word list. However, for almost two weeks now, I haven't studied any new vocabulary and neither have I reviewed the old vocabularies.

I originally took a break from studying vocabularies because I needed to memorize my history speech, and I thought it was important that I did not divert my concentration. However, somehow the history speech kept getting postponed and my break just kept extending.

When I finally did my history presentation on last Thursday, the long weekend approached and technically I should have had a lot of time during the long weekend to at least review the vocabularies. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of time on watching cartoons and playing games, and I just kept forgetting about studying the vocabularies.

I am afraid that if I don't take any action now, I may never go onto the word lists again, so I am determined to resume my vocabulary-studying... starting tomorrow. Tomorrow morning in the subway I shall look at the vocabularies from the past and try to review them. At night I shall test myself on these vocabularies, and hopefully the results will not be horrible.

Changing My Mind

When I was younger, I usually slept at ten o'clock, and if not, I would sleep at eleven thirty the latest.

As I grew older, this habit changed. If I slept at ten o'clock I would not be able to fall asleep right away, so I decided to sleep at 10:30 the earliest.

This trend continued and now I sleep at eleven the earliest and one the latest, assuming that there's no projects due tomorrow. However, my perception of time from early childhood still remains-- I still think that ten o'clock is the supposed bed time.

So why is this bad? This is bad because if I imagine ten o'clock as the supposed bed time, I would usually not do anything productive after ten o'clock. The logic is simple-- why do any work when you are tired and are supposed to be going to sleep?

If I do not change my way of thinking, I will continue to waste one to three hours per day when I could be doing more productive things such as reading books or doing future assignments. If I actually do manage to spend this time wisely, my procrastination may come to an end!

(Note: sorry to have such a messy post again.)

Baby Rat

Rats are a nuisance to regular households. They break through food packages, bite furnitures, and wherever they go there would be traces of their wastes. As obvious as their presence is, they are seldom seen by humans as they are mostly active during night.

Yesterday, however, I had an encounter with a black baby rat, which I saw on the counter in the kitchen. It was very small—its body length was only about 7 centimeters long—and this was the reason that I deduced that it must have been a baby. Anyway, seeing it immediately reminded me of the annoyance that its family had done in the past, and I decided that I must catch it.

This was a hard task though. The baby rat moved very swiftly and it was not very easy to spot in the clusters of objects on the counter. It hid so perfectly that for one moment I even believed that it had left the counter. But no, it couldn't escape— the counter was too tall for it to jump onto the ground, and it wasn't big enough to jump onto the cupboard either. So I waited.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Tags/Labels

Just realized how to do this. I feel so embarrassed...

I just found another thing that Blogger should improve on— its tag/label system.

Blogger has made it so that if you want to change the name of a label, you would have to go through all the posts with that label and change them one by one. Also, say you want to add a new label and you want to use it on a few pre-existing posts, you cannot just select the titles of those posts and add them to under that label. Instead, you will have to add the posts individually. This is highly inconvenient and inefficient, especially when you have a large amount of posts. 

Fortunately I only have 25 posts so far, so changing the labels of the posts individually is still not a big problem


How come things that we enjoy are usually depleted so fast? From oil and natural gas to candies and cookies,  these things can all be used up or consumed very quickly if we do not think ahead when consuming them.

This goes the same for cartoons. There are a certain amount of episodes usually in the hundreds  and if we watch too many episodes a day, we will soon finish watching all of them. Therefore, to make sure that the supply of episodes will last for a long time, it is important that we set a quota for the number of episodes that can be watched per day (Note: this is referring to watching the episodes online).

In this post I am talking specifically about Chibi Maruko-Chan, a Japanese cartoon with 12-minute long episodes. I am not sure about how many episodes there are exactly, but at the rate that I am watching (4-7 episodes per day), it will soon run out of episodes. Therefore I have decided to regulate myself and watch at most two episodes per day, and this should allow the supply to last a lot longer.

The idea of preserving goods has always been present, but I have never really thought much about it until today. Funny that it was a cartoon that made me think about this topic.

This is the class of Chibi Maruko-Chan


I am struggling to concentrate on doing my career assignments. They are just so boring, annoying, and idiotic that I can't help but to start doing other things! So far I have completed two, but I still need to complete one more. Urgh.

Anyway, I have been thinking about ways to minimize distraction and maximize concentration, and I have compiled this list:

  • No Internet: If the task does not require the Internet, turn it off. There are too many interesting things on the Internet that will simply let your mind drift away
  • Working in the library: In a library where almost everyone is concentrating on their work, you wouldn't want to embarrass yourself by doing nothing! The library makes you feel guilty if you are not doing anything productive.
  • Good mental condition/state: This is obvious. If you are very tired and sleepy, how can you concentrate on something? Solution: nap/tea/coffee 
  • Imagining due dates: Somehow I always get tasks done very quickly if it's due the very next day. Using this psychology,  we may concentrate better if we imagine that the task has to be finished by the end of the day. Sort of hard, but very effective if you succeed in doing so. 
  • Shaking your head: This may sound sort of stupid, but when I shake my head I also tend to shake off distracting thoughts in my head.
This post was sort of created for myself— I really need to concentrate more.


Now in a generation where things are increasingly done by electronic devices, there are fewer chances for people to write snail mail. In fact, I recall that the last time I have ever written one was when I was in grade four, which was five years ago.

This week, however, I got another chance to send a snail mail, which was for an application for a math camp. Anyway, I learned an extraordinary thing— stamps are actually made into stickers now!

When I was in grade three, I heard an story about how a person invented a kind of glue/gum that would become adhesive when moistened. And from what I saw in movies and books, I always imagined that one would always have to put some saliva onto the stamp to make it sticky. It really came as a shock that stamps today are made as stickers!

Perhaps this is a sign of how fast the world is changing. This will probably be the first of many incidents where things don't work the way I would imagine them to. Ah!

The "Next Blog" Button

It's always interesting to click on the "next blog" button to view all sorts of different blogs and perhaps find one that you really like. However, today I had a very strange experience with this button.

For about 20 blogs, all the blogs were in Spanish! As I do not understand Spanish, I had to keep clicking the button to find one written in a language that I understood. However, the Spanish blogs just couldn't stop appearing, and finally I had to give up...

I wonder why this happened. Does the "next blog" button simply leads you to the blog that has the most recent post? Although this may sound like a plausible explanation at first, I highly doubt it. Even if that happened to be a time where Spanish people were more active on the Internet, there had to be at least one post that was in another language!

Right now I can't think of any other explanation, but hopefully this mystery will be solved when I click the button more!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog Archives

EDIT (April 25th): Ah now I feel so stupid! You can actually click on the triangles to expand or minimize the "folders!"

So far I am quite content with Blogger. It has quite simple interfaces, and it will not add ads onto your blog pages unless you want to earn money with them. It also has quite a nice layout.

However, I really dislike the blog archives. It is designed so poorly! When you click on a time period, it automatically redirects you to the archives page of that time period, and gives you a list of all the posts that were published during that time. However, it is impossible for the reader to view all the titles of the blog posts at once! What if the reader doesn't care about the time that the posts were created, and only wants to find a post title that seems interesting? Shouldn't there be a page that lists the titles of all the blog posts so that readers can scan through all the titles more quickly?

Done ranting...


Guilt is the feeling that you have done something wrong or that you have failed to fulfil an obligation, and it is generally considered as something unpleasant.

However, sometimes guilt is actually good! For example, just then my sister drew a greeting card that we were supposed to make together for a neighbour. Since I was also supposed to take part in the drawing, I felt guilty, and as a result I didn't dare waste any time during the time that she was completing the card. This short twenty minutes was perhaps the most efficient time during today as I typed nearly half of my careers report.

Perhaps guilt provides us an incentive to work hard, or rather, a disincentive not to work hard. Therefore guilt should not always be regarded as something that's painful and bad to have.

GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program)

GIMP stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It's basically a graphics program that allows you to edit images. 

It's free, and it's way more advanced than MS Paint (duh). It allows you to make transparent backgrounds, do gradients, draw animations, etc. In fact, there are most likely a lot more advanced features, but the ones that I mentioned are enough for a highs school amateur like me.

To be honest, the interface is confusingit's almost impossible to do anything without reading a guide. In fact, I couldn't draw a circle or a straight line without the help of the Internet! Fortunately, this program is pretty popular and usually just by typing "GIMP Task_Name" you would be able to find an appropriate guide.

Once you get used to the interface, this program should be quite easy to use and useful. I have used this program for several projects and I have gotten quite good results. If you haven't already tried it, try it now!   

Official website:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Hate Career Studies!

Career classes should be abolished in schools. Not only do students do nothing in career classes, the assignments are also meaningless. They are a waste of time and energy.

So what made me decide to make a post just to complain about career classes? Well, it was because of the criteria for the assignments that I received. There was one assignment where you needed to write a one-page report about your personal achievements and how they were meaningful to your life. As if the assignment wasn't stupid enough, there were four marks out of thirty-five allocated to creativity. Let's look at what exactly these four marks are for:
/2  A unique thought, a famous quotation, an idea, a drawing, a cartoon, etc.
/2 Cover page, page borders, graphics, etc. 

To me this was just unbelievable. Are these things really necessary for a written report? Urrgh.

(Yes, even drawing this image was more meaningful than doing the assignments in career class)

Is Success Really Good?

People are often driven by their goals and their dreams. For example, athletes aim for medals in competitions, and students strive for good marks. The thoughts of being successful are usually the fuel that motivates people to work hard—they allow people to have something to look forward to. In short, the idea of success allows people to live and to work on something happily.

What happens when a person meets their goal and becomes successful? At that moment, the person would probably be in ecstasy, shriek in joy, and be glad that all the hard work finally pays off. However, what next? With the goal achieved, the person would not

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Report Card

Note: This Post is Encrypted! 

One heavy weight off my shoulders

Today I finished my history presentation which my group was supposed to do one week ago. This presentation was delayed until now because of a series of events, such as the absence of a group member or a religious holiday. Anyway,  even though I made a few mistakes, it ran rather smoothly and I was quite content with it.

I am just happy that I got it over with.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Is it better for people to have higher or lower expectations on us?

This was a question that was raised when I read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. When Charlie was still mentally disabled, no one really scolded him for doing things wrong because they did not expect anything from him. I thought this was sad because this basically meant that no one had any hope that he could do things right.

So in a way when we're reprimanded by others for doing something wrong, we should feel glad because this means that we are still competent enough that people would rely on us to accomplish something. It is when no one even bothers to scold us for our wrong-doings that we should feel miserable.

Doing Things That Are Contrary to What I Believe?

When I was young, I used to lose a lot of marks on tests because of my stubbornness and my inability to just do what the teachers expected. For example, once in a science test there was a true or false question that was something like "We can make unique and delicious yogurts by fermenting milk." The answer was supposed to be true, but I chose false because I did not think that the word "delicious" was suitable for the question. There were many other —and perhaps better— examples,  but almost all of them were quite complicated.

The problem was that a lot of times I actually knew what the teachers would expect as an answer, but I just could not chose the supposed right answer because it was wrong to me.

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End is a science-fiction book written by the famous author Arthur C. Clarke. To be honest, this is the first time that I have ever read his work, but from his biographies it seems hat he is a notable science-fiction writer.

Unlike many other science-fiction books, Childhood's End is very mild. It isn't the events that are mild (arrival of aliens, extinction of the human race and the destruction of earth— how can you call these mild?), but the way that the author describes these events.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card is a sequel/parallel novel to the authors first book, Ender's Game. These two books have share many events, except that the events are viewed from the eyes of two different characters. Ender's Game focuses on Ender, the best commander in the school, while Ender's Shadow focuses on Bean, who is extremely intelligent because he is genetically altered. I find this very interesting because you get to understand everything better and also because you can know the "truth" of some events.