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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chickens for Your Backyard

Source: William Dark Photography

When I was in elementary school, I went through a dog phase.  Then a cat phase.  And after that, a guinea pig phase.  By sixth grade, I was pretty much willing to raise anything.  (This included a caterpillar, who I loved and cherished until it ran away an hour later.)  Unfortunately, my parents were strongly anti-nonhuman mammal, and I had a special knack for killing off fish; thus, I remained pet-less.

But then one day, my dad brought home a box of baby chicks.

So why chickens?  In my case, they were the perfect compromise for my cat-hating parents: they're low-maintenance and strictly outdoors; plus, they lay delicious eggs.  They provide a certain amount of emotional attachment, but not too much attachment.  With a bit of yard space, almost anybody could raise a flock of hens.

If you do decide to give chickens a go, here's how to get started:

I recommend starting with baby chicks, mostly because they're cute.  You can get them by ordering online and getting them mailed (weird, right?), or by visiting a feed store.  Make sure you get females, since owning roosters is illegal around here.  Around here, Half Moon Bay is probably the closest source of chicks.  You'll need to raise them in a box indoors for around eight weeks (here's a guide).  These weeks are crucial for bonding with your chicks; make sure you're cuddling them lots!

Source: Appletons

Once your chickens are older, you'll want to move them to a chicken coop.  At this point, you can either choose to keep your chickens in an enclosed space, called a run, or let them free range throughout your yard, but beware: they'll probably do significant damage to some of your plants.  They'll start laying eggs at around 5 months of age.  Chickens typically live for 5 to 8 years.

Chickens are easy to care for, entertaining, and provide fresh eggs for your fridge.  I highly suggest you consider getting a couple!

Post by Coral C., HW Assistant

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Year in Review: Iconic Memes of 2017

As 2017 ends, another great year for memes ends. Memes are any photo or video that is shared widely on the internet. The best memes are general enough to have variations but specific enough that they can convey a nuanced humor. Last year, 2016 gave us Dat Boi, the Arthur Fist, and Salt Bae;  2017 has been yet another epic year for memes. Here's a salute to some of the most iconic memes of this year.

5) Roll Safe 

The Roll Safe meme is a screenshot of actor Kayode Ewumi, with one finger on his temple. Generally, they refer to a very poor decision made, but a very clever play on words. It is the best-worst source of advice possible.
4) Meryl Streep Singing

Actress Meryl Streep provided the perfect expression for all us singing our favorite tunes when she shouted something during an awards ceremony in 2015. This meme is structured as a duet, with the lyrics of popular songs sung by the recording artist and Meryl Streep. Sometimes it features misheard or made-up lyrics.

3) Mocking Spongebob

This screencap from the TV show Spongebob Squarepants is used to indicate mockery. It usually is accompanied by some sort of text, in an assortment of capitals and lowercase. Spongebob memes are quite common - last year, for example, Spongegar and the Blurry Mr. Krabs memes were both popular.

2) Math Lady 

The Math Lady or Confused Lady expresses general confusion in a series of four screenshots from the original gif. In 2016, it only showed the actress Renata Sorrah - in 2017, it was revamped with the addition of a few mathematical symbols and equations. 

1) Distracted Boyfriend

This stock photo was named "Disloyal Man Walking With His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Girl". It's actually a series of photos shot by photographer Antonion Guillem and tells a story of these three characters. Even in comparison to other memes, it is especially meta. The Distracted Boyfriend meme often represents two conflicting desires.

What was your favorite meme of 2017?

Post by Swathi P., Homework Assistant

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yummy Snow

Have you ever wanted to eat snow but realized that snow isn’t actually edible? No fear! Shaved snow is just what you need to satisfy your snowy appetite! Shaved snow melts instantly in your mouth, just like real snow. Unlike real snow, however, shaved snow tastes just like ice cream!

Shaved snow comes in a couple cool flavors, such as mango, green tea, or strawberry! Drizzled on top of the beautiful snow is a sauce of your choice, which can be condensed milk, strawberry syrup, chocolate syrup, or any other tasty combination. To top it off, you can add boba, popping boba, lychee, red bean, or even grass jelly. Any boba enthusiasts out there? Check out shaved snow – it’s like boba milk tea, but instead of milk and tea, it has snow instead.

How is shaved snow made? Looking at the big picture, shaved snow is made up of ultra-thin layers of flavored ice stacked on top of each other. To start, you mix milk and water, and add the flavoring. It is then put in a freezing machine which freezes the snow into a huge ice cube. The ice cube is put into an ice shaver that shaves it up into small thin layers. To finish, these layers are stacked together, drizzled with sauce, and speckled with toppings.

What do you think about shaved snow? If you like ice cream or boba, you should try it out sometime! Leave your thoughts on this wonderful dessert in the comments below.

Post Written by Howard W., Homework Assistant


Thursday, December 7, 2017

California Fires: The Deadliest Yet

We all felt it in October. The smell of smoke spread all over the bay area.  People were wearing masks to school and staying indoors to get away from the polluted air. From our perspective in Mountain View, it almost seemed like the disaster had been local, hence the large amounts of smoke in our area. In reality, the disaster is far greater than that. The smoke came from wildfires all the way up to Sonoma and Napa County.

The wildfires have destroyed over 217,000 acres of land, burning down homes and forcing people out of the area. People have called the wildfires one of the most devastating disasters in California for a long time. Forests and communities have been destroyed. So how did this come to happen, and how can we prevent it?

The cause of the massive wildfires is a combination of a wet spring allowing plants to grow, then an extremely dry summer wilting the plants. The conditions were perfect for a fire to spread rapidly across California. Also, there happened to be very powerful winds, some almost reaching 50mph, that helped the fire spread even faster. The dry vegetation and the powerful winds were key reasons for the wildfire to start.

The exact cause of the event is unknown. Some believe the PG&E’s electrical wires supplying power to homes in the area may have been damaged, igniting fires in the area. Under state law, power lines are required to withstand up to 56mph winds, yet in areas where the fires started, winds did not reach that speed. PG&E has faced many allegations in the past for its faulty equipment, causing many to consider PG&E as a possible cause of these wildfires.

Post Written by: Howard W., Homework Assistant


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How Scientists Study Fish and Depression

In attempting to understand the world, scientists often turn to animals like rats to study and conduct experiments on. To study depression, researchers have analyzed the behaviors of an unlikely candidate: fish.

One in six people has experienced depression. Despite this, conducting experiments to better understand and treat depression only recently became common.

Other animal models, like rats, have been used in the past to study depression. But these animals are also complex organisms that may act one way even though they feel another because of external factors, the same way humans do. Fish are more likely to act the way they feel.

Although the neurochemistry of fish is actually quite similar to that of humans, there are still limitations to studying fish. Most clearly, a scientist cannot ask a fish about how it feels. But researchers can still consider other methods to understand symptoms better.

Through the "novel tank test", scientists can consider whether a fish is depressed, the severity of its depression, and the effects of any antidepressant. Fish have the natural inclination to explore a new environment. If a fish is placed in a new tank, and it goes against its natural tendency by staying at the bottom half of the tank for more than five minutes, then it is depressed. Fish can be studied before and after an antidepressant is administered as well.The severity of the depression can be determined based on how long the fish spends at the bottom.

By monitoring levels of substances like serotonin and dopamine, researchers can better understand depression and prospective treatments.

Post by Swathi P., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Watching TV: From New York to LA

Image result for watching tvLocation can have a huge impact on a person's perspective. Living in the mountain tops of Mongolia would be a very different experience than living in a studio apartment in London, for example. But even just within the United States, there is a great diversity of experiences that are shaped by location. These subcultures pervade into many areas of life. One of these small but pivotal differences is in TV shows.

For example, in this infographic, we can compare the viewing of Modern Family, a popular series that follows the life of a humorous family. The areas that give Modern Family more love in a darker pink, while areas that prefer other TV shows is a light pink-white. The Bay Area is one of the areas that shows a darker hue, and therefore a place where Modern Family is more popular.

As someone who grew up on Spongebob, it's odd to think that simply growing up another part of the United States would have perhaps subtly influenced me into watching another cartoon. The cause for this difference is the prevalence of different kinds of people spread across the US. Urban and metropolitan areas have distinctly different tastes than rural.

What are your favorite shows? Are they characteristic of this area?

The prevalence of other TV shows:


Post by Swathi P., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Top 5 Coolest Cars

Have you ever wondered about what makes a car awesome? Think powerful, stylish, and limited edition. Here are some of the coolest cars in the world, all of them powerful, stylish, and of course, limited edition! Remember, these are in no particular order!

5. Ferrari LaFerrari

Priced in the millions, LaFerrari is certainly one of the best cars ever made by Ferrari, and perhaps one of the best cars in the world. Only around 500 of these limited edition cars were made. The LaFerrari can go from 0 to 60mph in under two seconds!

4. Bugatti Chiron

One of the most advanced cars ever built, the Bugatti Chiron is so powerful that it cannot reach its maximum potential with current tire technology. That said, the Bugatti Chiron has a massive horsepower of 1500, and top speed of 261 mph. Yet, the Bugatti Chiron can theoretically reach speeds of around 310 mph with better tires. Imagine how powerful that car must be; 310 mph is almost five times as fast as cars drive on the freeway!

3. Aston Martin Valkyrie

The Aston Martin Valkyrie, priced at $3 million, is one of the most aerodynamic supercars ever. Not only does this car look awesome, but it is styled completely differently than other cars. The top of the car is shiny black, and the back looks like the tail end of some rocket ship from a Sci-fi movie. The Aston Marin Valkyrie is unique because the bottom half of the car is completely open, making it extremely aerodynamic, like spacecraft.

2. Lamborghini Veneno Roadster

Only 9 Lamborghini Veneno Roadsters were produced in total. “Veneno” means Venom, a fitting name for this badass red/black car. Being made primarily of carbon fiber, the Lamborghini Veneno Roadster weighs only 3285 pounds: extremely light compared to the normal supercar or even the average car.

1. Lykan HyperSport

Looking like a vehicle straight out of the Bat Cave, the Lykan HyperSport even has blue headlights to emphasize the effect. Yet, the headlights of this Arabian car aren’t just blue. They’re also diamonds. Each headlight is constructed of 220 15-karat diamonds, a total of 420. The Lykan HyperSport is even customizable with rubies or sapphire headlights, if one prefers a red or blue glow. Of all places to find an exotic car made just for the sole purpose of being extravagant, it’s no surprise that this car originates from the Arabian Peninsula.

What do you think is the coolest car on this list? Are there any that I may have missed? Add your thoughts in the comments below!

Post Written by Howard W., Homework Assistant


Monday, October 23, 2017

The iPhone X: Revolutionary or Just Creepy?

We all know Apple reinvented the idea of a phone with their revolutionary creation of the iPhone: a touchscreen device with no physical keyboard that combines the iPod, phone, and internet access into one. Just like how they removed the keyboard, Apple is yet again removing another item for a bigger screen: the home button.

Introducing the iPhone X: the newest and most innovative Apple product in years. You might ask: how do we even use an iPhone if we can’t go home? The answer is this: the iPhone X’s navigation is all done using swipes and the new “side button”, which used to be the power button. The new side button can be held down to activate Siri and double tapped to use Apple Pay. With more screen, the iPhone X can display far more at once. Also, the screen is curved, and has the ability to produce true black colors, in contrast to older models that can only display dark grey.

Face ID
Without the home button, how does fingerprint work? Well, it doesn’t. The fingerprint on the iPhone X has been replaced with new facial recognition used to unlock your phone: Face ID. The facial detection can “learn” over time of how you look, so that even with different hairstyles or clothing, the iPhone X will still detect that you are the one unlocking your phone.

One cool (or slightly creepy) addition is that the iPhone X can know when you are looking at or using your iPhone. If your eyes are open and looking at the screen, the phone has options to make notifications and buzzes quieter for you. Weird, huh?


              Outside of the screen and facial detection, the iPhone X also comes with new software: IOS 11. IOS 11 is mainly a reorganization of how the current iPhone works. On top of that, the IOS 11 may have a feature that detects when you are driving. If so, the iPhone X can be set to automatically notify people who are contacting you that you are currently driving and cannot respond. No more texting and driving needed – this might save many lives!

                One long overdue, but still awesome, feature of the iPhone X is its ability to charge wirelessly. Simply put your iPhone X on the wireless charging pad, and the phone will charge. An interesting feature is that the wireless charging pad holds charge by itself, so it doubles as a portable phone charger.

What do you guys think about the iPhone X? Is it revolutionary or just plain creepy with its ability to recognize our faces and know when we are looking? It seems like the phone would be able to track our behavior and facial features, but some think it's the next best thing in technology. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Post Written by Howard W., Homework Assistant


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Chromebooks?

Many schools in the Mountain View Los Altos school district have opted to use chromebooks at school instead of Mac or Windows computers. As a junior in high school, I still remember the day when we had those opaque white colored Mac computers that ran around on COW’s (Computers on Wheels). Unfortunately, I also have memories of trying to complete a brochure about Japan while having the Pages application crashing every time I tried to save my file. Apparently the metallic colored new Macbooks were too costly for the school to buy in bulk, so we did not enjoy that luxury. So when my middle school replaced all of the old computers with fast, sleek Acer chromebooks, we were all overjoyed. Never again did we have to deal with slow computers, or so we thought.

Even though chromebooks are much less powerful than a normal computer, they make it up with their speed, portability, and battery life. For a normal computer, I would be happy to have 7 hours of battery life. When I first used a chromebook, I noticed that the estimated battery life was over 11 hours! Most computers can barely last 5 hours, yet a chromebook sticks through thick and thin, refusing to run out. A chromebook is also much faster for browsing the internet or typing essays in Google Docs. Lastly, it is small and light, so it can be carried around easily in backpacks by students just like how a small binder or notebook would be carried.

The reason for the speed and battery life of a chromebook is that chromebooks do not have as many background processes as a Windows or Mac computer. The problem, however, is that as a result of processing less information, a chromebook has less capabilities than a Windows or Mac computer, so chromebooks tend to be useless towards software developers and graphic designers. Yet, as a student, most of what we need to do at school is simply browsing the internet or working on Google Drive. With chromebooks, students have a light, portable device that fits their school needs, perfect for carrying around in a backpack and writing essays for school.

Do you like chromebooks for school? Or do you prefer to use a Windows or Mac laptop? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Post Written by Howard W., Homework Assistant

Monday, September 18, 2017

Google's Toughest Interview Questions

Have you ever wondered how Google hires employees? Tech companies like Google always ask the hardest and most extraordinary questions during interviews. These questions challenge your critical thinking skills and force you to think fast while the interviewer scrutinizes your every move. Try some of these questions for yourself, and see if you could be the next Google employee!

1. If ads were removed from Youtube, how would you monetize it?

This is a hard one. Monetizing an industry is figuring out how you would earn money from it. And imagine thinking up of something while being interrogated by the interviewer!

2. How many ways can you think of finding a needle in a haystack?

If you could hook up your brain to the internet you could probably figure this one out. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to improvise.

3. Estimate the number of tennis balls that can fit into a plane.

These are a type of question known as Fermi Estimation questions. The way I would approach this is that we know that there are about 30 rows of seats in a normal plane, with 6 seats in a row. That makes 180 seats. Each seat should have about enough room around it to hold around 1000 tennis balls each. That would make about 180,000 tennis balls to a plane, so I would answer 6 for the power of ten. For these types of questions, you just have to get your within the power of ten. Also, the interviewer is looking for your reasoning behind your answer, more than just checking if your answer is right or not. Still, these are very, very tough questions.

4. How would you explain cloud computing to a six year old?

Honestly, I don’t know how to say the word “information” without saying “information”. I’d probably use the word “stuff” a lot.

5. How would I explain the importance of HTML 5 to Larry Page and then to my grandma?

That’s going to have to be a very smart grandma, or I won't be working at Google anytime soon.

6. Do you prefer earning or learning?

I want to pick money but then I wonder what the interviewer would think.

7. How many cars travel across a bridge each day?

Another Fermi question? Can we please just say “a lot”?

8. How many degrees are there in the angle between the hour and minute hands of a clock when the time is a quarter past three?

7.5 degrees. The hour hand is a quarter of the way past the 3 hour/15 minute mark, which is 1/48th of the entire angle that the hands could go.

9. Why are manhole covers round?

So people can fit easier because people are also relatively round? A popular answer is that a round manhole wouldn’t fall through the hole, but a square one can.

10. Name a prank you would pull on a manager if you were hired.

I can’t tell if they’re asking this to protect themselves or to see if you’ll do anything questionable in the office.

Post Written by Howard W., HW Assistant

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Trees are easy to forget about, despite being incredibly important for all life on Earth. But they take on many different shapes and sizes, creating unique and beautiful naturally occurring art. Here are some especially magnificent trees from around the world!

The rainbow eucalyptus tree (right), also known as the Mindgao gum, is found in the tropical forests in the Southwest Pacific, such as New Guinea. The bark sheds and matures at different rates, cycling through intense tones at different times. This creates the palette appearance of the tree.


The monkey puzzle tree (left) is native to the most southern countries in South America, such as Argentina. When the tree was first identified by Europeans, one individual remarked, "It would puzzle a monkey to climb that!", and thus the tree was named.

The crooked forest in Poland is more of a creepy phenomenon. This forest is 400 trees that have a 90-degree bend, mostly northward. In the area surrounding the forest is normal pine trees. There are three main conspiracy theories about the mystery. The first is that heavy snowfall caused the trees to grow irregularly. The second is that tanks in World War II caused the bend. The third and more accepted theory is that farmers bent the trees for construction, but fled during the German invasion.

This last one is an honorary mention since technically wisterias are vines. Wisterias are native to East Asia and are especially respected in Japanese tradition. The Wisteria festival celebrates their blossoming in spring, with Wisteria tunnels, like the one pictured to the right below, where people can walk underneath the tree to see the flowers above.

What's your favorite tree?

Post by Swathi P., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lessons from Your Favorite Cartoons

Lion King, Kung Fu Panda, Finding Nemo… Other than being some of your favorite childhood animated films, these movies also had a larger message that you might have skipped over when you were younger. I didn't catch these profound quotes when I was a kid, but now reading these words of wisdom will make you appreciate the moral of the story.

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
First off, my favorite childhood film, ever, is Lion King. Naturally, Mufasa said this inspiring quote, which explains that we must confront past challenges in order to learn from our mistakes. Life is not about avoiding conversations on tricky subjects; it is about embracing them so that we can improve upon ourselves in the future.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."

Oogway, the prophetic turtle in Kung Fu Panda, tells this to the protagonist, Po, when he feels dejected and as if he was not truly meant to be a chosen Dragon Warrior. This saying eases the worry that you might feel in a temporary moment and reminds us that we must find happiness today without endlessly hoping for it in the future.

Your differences don’t define you.
Finding Nemo talks about the little quirks of all of its characters make them unique. From Nemo’s little fin to Pearl’s constant inking (“aww, you guys made me ink!”) and Dory’s short-term memory loss (“P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney”), many of the marine creatures in this film have their own little imperfections but don't let their differences stand in their way.

Nobody gets left behind (or as Lilo and Stitch put it, ohana means family) The entire Toy Story trilogy is about toys saving each other. Saving Wheezy from the garage sale, saving toys from the evil neighbor's house, and saving toys endangered by the prospector. 

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What's new in Teen?

          Did you know that the teen collection has undergone a massive upgrade?  I'm talking new books, new music, new graphic novels and new games.

          We've updated our K-pop collection.  Sad that there was no NCT 127 or NCT U?  Missing that new Seventeen album?  Wondering when we'll ever get around to buying the newest BTS album for the BTS Army members out there?  Well, it's here (or on it's way).  Some of the albums are here now and ready to go, others should be here soon.  Either way, come and get them, or place holds on them.  They don't have to be in the building for you to place a hold, you can be first in line!

          We also bought a ton of new graphic novels.  We've updated our current series but we've got some completely new titles as well. Come check out Maid-sama, Horimiya, Black Panther, Black Canary, Spider-Man 2099, School-live, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun and more.

Last but not least (drum roll please)......


          We're only starting with a few but you'll see games like Persona 5, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, Dead Rising 4 and more.  This is just the first batch, so expect more!

           Also, remember, if you ever want to see something at the library that's not here, let someone know.  The librarians are always open to suggestions and they want to make sure to buy things teens want.  They want your help!