3/8 Special Report: Then and Now – Food without thought

Co-written with Zazu Lippert

foodthoughtonline-1024x202@2xThe bell rings. He leaves his class and pulls out his phone. Junior Noah Youngs dials a number and makes a call, one that he makes frequently around lunchtime. At the end of lunch, he rushes out to pick up his food — waiting for him in the hands of a DoorDash or UberEATS driver, either at the bus circle or student parking lot. If the food is in the back of the car, then the driver will get out of the car, rifle through other deliveries and pass it to him. Other times, he’ll get handed his lunch through the car window. It’s the little things that frequent users like Youngs notice.

Youngs frequently uses food delivery services to buy lunch for both himself and his friends and has them delivered to MVHS. This way, he gets the best of both worlds: food from restaurants he likes without the hassle of driving there and back in the span of 45 minutes.

 

He uses food and other delivery services three to four times a week, including Amazon Prime Now, the company’s instant delivery service that brings orders straight to your desired location, at least once a week. Youngs started using UberEATS when it first came out last August, and he started using Prime Now last spring.

UberEATS is an expansion product of Uber Technologies. Utilizing their popular car service, Uber introduced an on-demand restaurant delivery service in 2014, allowing a person to order and receive food from nearby restaurants in “10 minutes or less.”

Payment is the same as the car service, cashless and charged on the customers’ smart phones and couriers include drivers and bikers along with walkers.

The services aren’t always perfectly seamless, as sometimes, the food will be cold when delivered.

Youngs remembers one time when he had ordered food from a restaurant through UberEATS and got a call from the delivery person, who seemed impatient.

“The driver guy called me and told me to cancel the order because he’s been waiting in the restaurant too long,” Youngs said.

After the call, Youngs called UberEATS support and received a new driver.

Youngs believes that part of the popularity of these services is due to the bustling nature of Silicon Valley itself. He believes that the close proximity of residences in the area makes it possible for these services to thrive.

Youngs thinks this availability can make people lazy. It makes it so they don’t have to go to the grocery store if they run out of milk, for example, and use apps to get someone to do it for them. But maybe, he says, it’s not a bad thing.

“A lot of people say things [of the future]about self-driving cars and artificial intelligence and robots,” Balentine said. “Maybe there will eventually be robots who deliver DoorDash and sit in self-driving cars.”

Junior Jesse Wong says he has had experiences with incompetent UberEATS drivers. Once he waited for over an hour for his Caribbean Passion smoothie.

The UberEATS driver still couldn’t identify Wong’s location, who, attending a prep class, had made five phone calls to said driver and still hadn’t received his smoothie. Wong recalls this memory good-humoredly, chuckling to himself.
“[The driver’s] a weird guy,” Wong said. “He was just really loud.”

Wong, who uses UberEATS and orders it to his house every month or so, considers the service inexpensive depending on what one orders. He also acknowledges the convenience of general food delivery services, especially for people with limited access to nearby restaurants.

“Sometimes no one feels like cooking, so we just order [from UberEATS],” Wong said. Unlike Youngs and Wong who both use UberEATS, guidance counselor Monique Balentine prefers to use a service called DoorDash.

Founded in 2013, DoorDash is also an on demand restaurant delivery service, which first launched in San Francisco and expanded to the Bay Area. Customers can browse and order from nearby restaurants on the DoorDash smartphone app, and delivery persons, nicknamed “Dashers,” can deliver the food in just under an hour.

Since last August, Balentine has ordered from DoorDash three to four times a month. Overall, Balentine interprets DoorDash as a double-edged sword; while it is convenient, she feels that she is becoming consistently lazier, preferring to simply “DoorDash” meals if she hasn’t bought enough groceries or is just too exhausted to cook.

“It’s definitely so convenient,” Balentine said, “So convenient it hurts.”

DoorDash has often aided her in a pinch, and she specifically remembers one example with the MVHS Speech and Debate club. As an advisor of the club, she had accompanied the kids to their event at another high school. She was promptly faced with a dilemma: the on demand restaurant delivery service, which first launched in San Francisco and expanded to the Bay Area. Customers can browse and order from nearby restaurants on the DoorDash smartphone app, and delivery persons, nicknamed “Dashers,” can deliver the food in just under an hour.students were hungry, and yet she couldn’t leave the kids to pick up food.

“[So] I DoorDashed them Subway sandwiches,” Balentine said. “They all got something healthy and nutritious and I was able to watch them and make sure nothing [dangerous]happened.”

Usually, according to Balentine, the deliveries run as smooth as silk, although she is still puzzled over an instance when the deliverer claimed he sent the food, yet she did not receive the food.

As the food industry service continues to advance, Balentine believes people will become more dependent on these types of services, and simple everyday tasks will become increasingly convenient.

“A lot of people say things [of the future]about self-driving cars and artificial intelligence and robots,” Balentine said. “Maybe there will eventually be robots who deliver DoorDash and sit in self-driving cars.”

That’s certainly food for thought.

3/8 Cat’s out of the bag: Holiday Hatin’

Valentine’s Day has long passed.

The only leftovers we’re savoring are bags of Hershey’s Kisses slashed with “50 percent off!” in black Sharpie.

Christmas is already an impervious oil stain on a paper bag, which was previously bloated with red and green sprinkle donuts. Thanksgiving? The turkey’s spirit is at rest in heaven, all chummy with the deceased mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

A disclaimer before I begin upchucking my words: I do not hate Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. I-I just-don’t exactly-well, I feel like it’s rather excessive. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

And here’s how it went down, in my plumb-tuckered-out mind’s eye. (If the following paragraphs are rather incoherent, blame the 2:00 a.m. black coffee jitters. According to this wannabe coffee connoisseur, “caramel lattes” and “PSL’s” are wolves in sheep’s coffee-stained clothing.)  As per usual, the phone alarm was yowling its charger off at 6:00 a.m.

As a no-owl (I am productive neither during the morning, night, breaking dawn, eclipse, or any title of the “Twilight” Saga, because all I aspire to do is sleep, nap or try to sleep), I blurted permutations — or is it combinations? — of swear words, pulling out my hair until my alarm wondered if I’d developed epileptic shock and retreated into a respectful silence.

File_000-4-300x225

Visual by Michelle Wong 

(Anything after the pulling-out hair is purely imagination, actually. And yes, I do swear quite vibrantly and melodically, inside my head of course, because I’d never be so uncultured as to blurt “schist” aloud.) When Valentine’s Day concluded, it wasn’t any different from Christmas, Thanksgiving or a regular school day. Here goes the cat.

Just as I boycotted New Year’s Day and every single holiday with an emphasis on “loudness” and “togetherness,” I sat out on Valentine’s Day. Oh, I’m not a hater, I’ll have you know. I’ve just always impeached the necessity of Valentine’s Day. Simply stated, isn’t it a tad bit loud? And so touchy-feely and extroverted?

Every holiday, I feel claustrophobic from an overdose of “fuzzy-and-warm” emotions. The Christmas carols. Thanksgiving thankfulness and the counting of “blessings.”

It’s 2:00 p.m. on a lazy Tuesday, and I’ve huffily regressed into a rant instead of a column.  You’re reading “salty” cat out of the bag, as the hip kids on the block with their Skechers light-up shoes say. Or Adidas. I’m not quite clear myself.

Perhaps, my extreme introversion has spurned my dislike — or lack of endurance — for holidays and social gatherings in general.

I’ve always had a fondness for doing absolutely nothing “productive” and just be by myself, to simply sit and dream of the miscellaneous: the most creative metaphor possible, me as the heroine of the never-to-exist fifth season of “Sherlock,” and whether or not there is actually an afterlife or just a black hole of nothingness.

There’s something magical about sinking into the embrace of a misshapen, lumpish sofa, lulled to half-sleep by the aroma of coffee and whittling the Sunday afternoon away — with a pair of headphones for company — that so entices me.

Alone, mind you. That is my kind of holiday.

And no, I’m not spinning some haphazard argument to defend my laziness. I am not lazy. I am merely a daydreamer, and again, no, not in the sense of dreaming for a cause or an unattainable goal of being a Kpop idol.

My dear cat owners,

I’ve entrusted a total of four secrets to you. By now, you can dissect my style of writing.

I love to dream through 90 percent of the column in flowery word throw-up, and for a scant 10 percent, I “reflect” upon my secret. Unwillingly and stoically, I dissect the secret from head to toe according to the “Guidelines of Reflection.”

First, please summarize your secret. Be concise and detailed (a paradox in itself).

Second, please provide evidence and quotes by a dependable source to prove this secret.

Lastly, tie the first and second steps above with some universal, relatable aspect of human nature.

Reflection, or the “under-the-surface” thinking literature teachers so adore is … inescapable.

And for a dreamer like me, “reflecting” and dwelling upon my daydreams is pure torture. It’s an extra step, an extra two minutes that toughens the filet mignon, a succulent secret or daydream, from medium rare to well done.

As you can see, I’ve happily and unintentionally “dreamed” off the beaten path and ventured into nonsense again, much like the introduction of this column.

Where was I again? Oh, my boycotting of holidays. Holidays are a reflection, are they not? A reflection, an attempt to solidify our meant-to-be-messy-ball-of-yarn feelings of family, love and all that good stuff through tangible gifts and Valentine’s Day chocolate.

There I go again, forcing myself to analyze.

Except for the paragraph above, this column was really just an excuse for me to daydream. And if you’ll pardon me, I must leave before I’m impounded for “lack of evidence” in my daydreaming.

I’ll catch you later.

3/7 Beats: All-American Junior English courses

 

Co-written with Gauri Kaushik 

Starting next school year, rising juniors will be limited to a choice of three English courses: American Literature, Honors American Literature or American Studies. Rising juniors can no longer take British Literature or Myth, which are now only available to rising seniors.

According to English teacher and department chair David Clarke, it had been a challenge accommodating the diverse range of students, previously consisting of seniors and juniors, in the British Literature and Myth classes.

“You have kids coming in on one end with everything from World Core to American Lit Honors and then on the other end [juniors with]… another year of lit,” Clarke said. ” … It made it very difficult to look at what the [British Literature and Myth courses] were meant to be in terms of goals.”

Junior Megumi Pennebaker is one of the many students who skipped taking an American Literature course to take Mythology. She says that, in class, she can’t see the divide between the students that Clarke mentions.

“I think we’re all on about the same level, and to be honest I don’t really know who’s a junior and who’s a senior,” said Pennebaker. “It’s definitely limiting [the sophomores’]choices.”

As a result of this change, collaboration between teachers may also become more cohesive. Clarke believes that if the teachers are responsible for a more “homogenous group of students” — in other words, all senior students instead of a mix of juniors and seniors — it will be easier for British Literature and Myth teachers to decide how their course will play out in terms of units and class expectations.

“Everybody [will be]teaching the same book in the same order with the same assessment,” he said. “The collaboration just becomes much easier all the way around.”

According to Clarke, the English department has always strived to give students freedom in choosing their classes. Now, however, incoming juniors can only choose between “three flavors” of American Literature, which means students can no longer take both British Literature and Myths classes and “avoid” an American Literature class during the course of their high school career.

“It feels like [American literature] is a collective sort of knowledge that all kids should have,” he said.

He acknowledges that there may be a certain amount of disappointment from the current sophomores, but also believes that within a few years, students won’t even know there was a change even made in course selection.

“American Lit is the course that’s really going to change in some sense,” said Clarke. “Giving that there are [currently]only three courses [of American Literature], I would assume that [that’s the] course that’s really going to expand.”

On whether or not taking American Literature is even significant, Clarke believes an element of cultural literacy is important for students.

“It feels like [American literature] is a collective sort of knowledge that all kids should have,” he said.

 

 

 

3/5 Special Report: Sunday Project – DeAnza Farmer’s Market

Last Sunday, Special Report writers ventured to a farmer’s market in Oaks Shopping Center and did a feature on each of the stall owners. The excerpt below is written by me. For the full coverage, visit: http://www.elestoque.org/2017/03/05/special/sunday-project-walk-farmers-market/  

Only two heads taller than the mound of pumpkins and peanuts on the table, stall owner Lou Yang wields a threatening knife, swiftly chopping and separating soiled cabbage leaves from the pristine cabbage heads.

Before entering the farmer’s market scene, Yang encountered some troubles with wholesalers.

“We were picking and packing [vegetables for]wholesalers,” Yang said. “But they don’t pay me like fifty-sixty thousand dollars.”

dsc_7254edited-2-1024x6782x
Lou Yang cuts off wilted cabbage leaves before placing the cabbage heads on the table before her. Photo by Helen Chao

Turned away by the low compensation, Yang decided to give the Bay Area’s farmers markets a try, and she eventually received a certificate from the county certifying her to distribute and sell her vegetables to the public. Yang is involved with three farmer’s market associations, two in California (one of which is the West Coast Farmer’s Market Association), and another known as the Pacific Coast Market Association which operates throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

While Yang plants forty to fifty varieties of vegetables year-round, some specific types are seasonal. In the winter, Yang sells Napa cabbage, mustard, taro and cilantro, while summer seasons are catered to eggplant.

“At first, I was still young and enjoyed my job, but now I [am]getting old and work too hard I cannot [sell and grow vegetables],” Yang said, “[but]maybe a few more years.”

2/8 Special Report: The view from home

He says “I don’t know” the most, followed by “I haven’t really thought about that.”

For sophomore Eric Wang, there’s not much about his house that makes an impression. He makes a bland observation: the garage is colder than the laundry room. When he thinks of his house, it isn’t his hardwood floors that come to mind—rather, it’s a sense of the everyday, of normality and stability.

Wang’s parents bought their house two years before Wang was born. He doesn’t hold an emotional attachment to his house and wouldn’t care if his parents sold it and moved away—as long as it is after he graduates from high school.

He makes a bland observation: the garage is colder than the laundry room. When he thinks of his house, it isn’t his hardwood floors that come to mind—rather, it’s a sense of the everyday, of normality and stability.

“I’ll probably stay over at a friend’s house [if I come back to visit],” Wang said. “Moving [has]never occurred to me to be a big problem.”

Wang feels a sense of security, comforted that his family doesn’t have to deal with the potential rules and restrictions of landlords in renting. It is possible they will remodel the house after he leaves for college.

On the other hand, senior Sabrina Zhai recalls that when she was in third grade, her parents remodeled the house they purchased in Cupertino three years earlier. She remembers noticing the blend of Victorian and contemporary interior design, with fancier dining room chairs and a skylight. Her parents had personalized their house in ways that Zhai believes they would have never been able to do in a rented home.

Zhai grew up in this house—one that accumulated twelve years worth of memories for her and her family.

She recalls the parties the most. Her parents love hosting parties, she says, and for a period of time they used to host a party every weekend for family friends. Attendees would bring food for a potluck dinner, Zhai would spend hours cleaning every inch of the house before the gathering and, of course, someone would break out the cards and mahjong. After the party, her parents would give her guests a tour of their home, showing off every single room—especially after remodeling.Zhai grew up in this house—one that accumulated twelve years worth of memories for her and her family.

“I definitely do think that having a bought house does give you that luxury of, first of all, remodeling it,” Zhai said. “And showing off aspects of it. Buying that house gave me the [opportunity]of living in a more luxurious home.”

But since Zhai is a senior, her parents are thinking of moving after she graduates. Zhai is a little reluctant; for almost every New Year’s Day of her life, Zhai has watched the first sunrise of the year with her brother on the roof of her home.

Zhai says that after graduating college, purchasing her own house isn’t her top priority and financial stability comes first.

“If you have the money to spare, I would definitely go for buying,” Zhai said. “Because a home is something that is [closer]to your heart. But if finance is an issue, which it is for many people, then renting is a reasonable choice.”

Cupertino’s expensive housing is often an obstacle for people trying to rent or purchase housing. But Wang’s family is financially stable, as both of his parents are software engineers. He often discusses possible careers with his parents; the jobs and majors they consider are ultimately STEM-related.

“I would go and have various interests and like various majors [in STEM],” Wang said. “And my parents would kind of push me toward computer science [because]there [are]lots of jobs and [they are]all high paying.”

But Wang isn’t fretting over the future just yet. He doesn’t feel any pressure to have an especially high-paying job—although his parents may say differently. Likewise, the pressure to buy a house, be it in Cupertino or elsewhere, is absent—he’s never even considered it.

For freshman Shuvi Jha, the pressure to purchase a house in her future is not prominent either. Her attachment to her current rented home is as strong as she imagines her attachment to a purchased home might be; her home is where her family is, and that’s all Jha wants.

At some point you’re going to have to leave that home…You’re with your family, you have yourself, you have your morals…That’s going to keep your memories intact in a way that a purchased home could never do.

“I’m perfectly fine with my rented home,” Jha said. “It has all I want. [But purchasing a house in the future] depends on where I am at the time, if I’m financially stable…I guess it has more of a final feel to it—[But] if it’s just me, I’ll just go to the rented house. It’s cheaper [and]does the same thing.”

Jha feels that tenants of purchased homes may feel a stronger attachment to their houses, but the difference would be slight—for Jha, at least.“I’m perfectly fine with my rented home,” Jha said. “It has all I want. [But purchasing a house in the future] depends on where I am at the time, if I’m financially stable…I guess it has more of a final feel to it—[But] if it’s just me, I’ll just go to the rented house. It’s cheaper [and]does the same thing.”

“I really don’t think it matters that much whether you live in a rented home or a purchased home,” Jha said. “At some point you’re going to have to leave that home…You’re with your family, you have yourself, you have your morals…That’s going to keep your memories intact in a way that a purchased home could never do.”

Eric Photo Sabrina Photo Shuvi Photo (1)-min

 

 

2/8 Blobbing, blobbing, 1-2-3

I have a confession to make: I’m really half-blob, half-human. Mentally, that is. I lack definition and structure. As a high schooler, my brain is gleefully mucking around in no particular direction whatsoever, sporting fuzzy slippers and a plushy bathrobe!

I lack passion: a driving force to mold my future or “life goals” into concreteness. Honestly, where am I heading? After all, nothing strikes my fancy.  Of course, I certainly have interests! I like to write, play cello and bake cookies. However, in the jargon of a flustered pre-teen, I don’t really “like like” anything. Much less love.

What does one define as love?

Traditionalists feel electrocuted, hyper-alert: Benjamin Franklin in the roaring storm, clutching an iron key and whipping a kite. Golly gee willikers! I’m in love! How outlandish. As a post-millennial, I’m attuned to the 21st century.

What does one define as love?

If I truly loved something, I’d take the pains to exit the Netflix tab for said person or thing. That being said, I am simultaneously writing this column and streaming Season 4 of “Sherlock.” Thus, this column has taken five hours to lovingly churn out.

It’s not as if I dislike writing or cello! That isn’t the scroungy cat I intend on releasing. My interests and I, well, we’re interlocked in the first stages of an arranged marriage — awkward and grudging! Which very much irritates my parents, or it certainly seems like it.

At first, my engineer father was miffed that I was interested in the humanities, something he’d assumed from my column writing.

“To be good at math is to be good at everything!” he proclaimed, hands flailing like a tipsy conductor with a chopstick batons. He paused to inhale two-thirds of his dinner. “If you know math, your writing will have another dimension! Have a touch of clean-cut STEM reasoning!”

I haughtily turned up my nose, slurping a satisfactory ratio of ramen to beef broth.

“Well, fine,” he replied, his feathers ruffled by my obnoxious slurp. As long as you’re happy and doing what you love. At least, his daughter had a calling, a direction in life. His daughter liked English, out of all things – she wasn’t constructing mobile houses for street urchins in London – but hey, her life had some grit and substance to it.

Or so he thinks, I spluttered to myself, counting the green onions pooling in the ramen.

Bloib34 Roimen

Again, it’s not as if I have no interests. Our mutual  “affection” is simply labored.The story of my arranged marriage follows: I’m a hot-blooded youth who dilly-dallied the morning with Netflix, an endless TV show provider. At 1:00 a.m., I’m abruptly wedded to a blank Word document! It is a drastic plunge in exhilaration: from TV-binging to writing an essay.

Before my fellow writers scorn me for eternity — write a novel about a girl who works hard but dies in the end, they holler — I do enjoy writing! Writing is therapeutic and meditative. I can sulk here for hours on end, pruning flower gardens of metaphors to asphyxiate the reader with my floweriness.

I rest my case.

Of course, there’s a catch. As much as I have interest in something, I’ve never loved anything (besides Netflix) enough to approach or “propose” to it first. Also, if I truly loved — with a passion — to play cello, couldn’t I happily practice for four hours? Why, then, was finishing an hour of cello practice like completing a chore?

Writing is therapeutic and meditative. I can sulk here for hours on end, pruning flower gardens of metaphors to asphyxiate the reader with my floweriness.

My lack of passion twisted my father’s head right round, his anxiety apparent in dinner conversations.

“What do you want to do when you’re older? English? I know you’re interested.”

I’d mumble two-syllable gibberish: “Uh-huh” and “Huh? Yeah.”

That’d light his fuse. He craved clear answers and a stable train of thought. After all, he’d immigrated from Taiwan when he was 25 years old, the homely engineer who chased his American Dream. 30 years later, he had four daughters and lived in affluent Cupertino. Previously, he had lived in three states and undertaken five jobs, charging forward with a mindset to succeed. Very unblobish, if I do say so myself.

And here, his blobbish daughter, goggling at him with ramen noodles dangling from her mouth. Didn’t I understand how fortunate I was? Where was the youthfulness, the heady ambition? The hunger to warp, to bulldoze the world with my radical actions? I should be establishing my passion in such a liberal community, using Cupertino’s abundance of opportunities to feed whatever the monster of a passion.

“Because you’re going into English, right?” He asked. “You must have an idea of what you want to do in life.”

I didn’t answer. And I still can’t.

2/8 How To: Chinese calligraphy

Bored of watercoloring? Try Chinese calligraphy, known for its vivid and fluid brushstrokes! Chinese Honor Society met on Jan. 27 to paint fishes and Chinese characters, and officers also gave out traditional Chinese New Year candy to members. Scroll through the step-by-step pictures to learn how to paint your own fish!

Budapest (17) Budapest (18)

IMG_3538 (1) IMG_3540

Budapest (19)

IMG_3542

Budapest (20)

IMG_3546

Budapest (21)

  To make your own Chinese character stencil: search Google Images for “chinese character stencil printout,” print, and cut out. The character used in the picture above means “respectable.”