Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

100 Thanks

I wish I could take credit for the inspiration to write this list, but that belongs to Ben Kuhn. Instead, I'll just provide my own list of a hundred things I'm thankful for.

  1. My mother, whom I resemble more and more like every year. I only hope the trend continues.
  2. My father, who's been supporting me more than I realize, longer than I knew, and with no signs of stopping.
  3. My Grandma Mary, who has got to have at least twelve hearts, one for each of her grandchildren.
  4. My Grandpa Bob, who I never knew in my adult life, but who I know is the reason my mother made it to Harvard.
  5. My Gpa, who makes me proud to be a third-generation scientist.
  6. My Gma, by whose grace I can afford to attend the school I love.
  7. My Uncle Christopher, who still has new conversations for me, even after all these years.
  8. My Titi Mari, who will always be family.
  9. My brother, with whom I grew -- and continue to grow -- up.
  10. My cousins Roman and Camilo, who gave me Star Wars, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Starcraft, perhaps against the best wishes of both my parents.
  11. My cousins Marshall and Brendan, for whose sake I remembered how to play for years after I else would have forgotten.
  12. Marie desJardins and John Park, my second parents.
  13. Heather desJardins-Park, who can't seem to get out of my life, and who's always been a dear friend.
  14. Music, such a wonderful memetic accident, which has kept me sane in dark times.
  15. Ballroom dance and my physical ability to dance, which has kept the dark away in recent times.
  16. Poetry, which turns the dark, bright.
  17. That my dark times have never been as dark as they could, and that I've always had friends to pull me through.
  18. My craziest roommate, Lucian Wang, who might as well be my long-lost twin. Except that he's short.
  19. The rest of my blockmates: The tall one, who keeps us together.
  20. The short one, who's always been a fantastic person.
  21. The craziest one, with whom I fought the terrors of mechanics and relativity.
  22. The princess, with whom I can always talk about feelings.
  23. The scientist, who makes the people around her better.
  24. And the one who defies description, who makes everything weird.
  25. The Harvard Ballroom Dance Team, which is precisely the amount of crazy I need in my life.
  26. My friends on HBDT Exec, who are far more than the amount of crazy I need in my life.
  27. My students at HSYLC-Beijing, who impressed me beyond measure, whom I still love dearly.
  28. My students at Orchard Gardens, who blew away a teacher who thought he'd already seen the very best of students.
  29. Diane Yang, who's been with me every step of the crazy Citizen Schools adventure.
  30. Harry Lewis, who's advised two generations of Rheinganses in doing what they love.
  31. Margo Seltzer, who showed me beauty in a field so many people think soulless.
  32. Benedict Gross, who would rather I do stupid things under his care than outside it.
  33. Helen Vendler, who made me want to be a poet again.
  34. Physics, the most beautiful applied science I know.
  35. Mathematics, the most beautiful thing I know, period.
  36. Computer Science, and the crazy accident that I can make a living doing the thing that I love.
  37. XKCD, which brings me something awesome three four days of the week.
  38. Books, which were my childhood.
  39. Amazon, which brings me books.
  40. Kickstarter, which shows me awesome new things.
  41. Facebook, which keeps me near friends.
  42. Google, that fabulous brain-prosthesis.
  43. Wikipedia, my new math textbook.
  44. Yale, for hosting my school so graciously while we clobbered them at sports.
  45. Random late-night conversation with people I've only just met.
  46. Late-night food runs with friends.
  47. Harvard University, and the opportunity to attend it not as a waypoint towards a career, but as a formative stage in my life, where I can learn from some of the brightest minds of the past generation, alongside some of the brightest of mine.
  48. Eliot House, with its disproportionate number of math concentrators, ridiculous endowment, and perfectly quaint library.
  49. Oakland Mills High School, which got to me first and kept my feet firmly planted true.
  50. Vincent James, who's seen me at my best and at my worst, and has continued to believe in the former.
  51. Janet Doherty, who pushed me to my limits.
  52. Richard Smart, who forced me to think.
  53. Richard Ewart, who was always a friend.
  54. Philip Hale, who first taught me to believe in beauty, and never took less than my best.
  55. The rest of the OM orchestra family, for making four years of music together.
  56. The late Dr. Lynn Collins, who simply surpasses words, and whose legacy is a thousand brilliant mathematicians of today and tomorrow.
  57. Rebecca Sandler, who saw the good in me at such a young age.
  58. Daryl Burch, who showed me that evil does not always show itself and good is not always apparent, but that hope is always to be found.
  59. Russell Cain and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where I was able to cut my teeth on programming in the real world.
  60. Baltimore Fencing Center, where I could throw myself at something that gave me purpose.
  61. Gabrielle Galvez, who gave me advice. And love. And a few notes from lectures at the School of Hard Knocks. I mean, what else is an older sister for?
  62. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, the single largest reason I am who I am today.
  63. The CTYers who made that possible for me the first few times around, and gave me awesome people to look up to.
  64. Reggie Viezel, who showed me how to make beautiful art with glowsticks against music.
  65. Ippy, from whom I first heard The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
  66. Rachel Hall, who's worked so hard to keep me sane all these years.
  67. The CTYers who came later, who looked up to me.
  68. Fish Stark, who kept the CTY dream alive for me and so many others.
  69. Amalia Bowen-Sicalides, for so much.
  70. Mark Ralkowski, who taught me so much, and then wrote a letter to help me get into Harvard.
  71. Misha Chkenkeli, for showing me yet more math.
  72. And of course, Kyj, for shenanigans.
  73. Lila Rieber, whose philosophical conversations I've been too long without.
  74. That we live in an age of (relative) intellectual enlightenment and not stifling dogma.
  75. That we live on a rock in stable orbit about a high-pressure clump of gas, where somehow, impossibly, self-replicating carbon structures took form, learned to think, and called themselves human.
  76. That I have the health, capacity, and opportunity to lend my life, strength, and passion to making this human fragment-moment in spacetime infinitesimally better.
  77. Ben Kuhn, who shows me by example that 'infinitesimally' is aiming too low.
  78. Modern technology: its marvels, which give us the ability to explore the world and remake it for the better...
  79. ...and its comforts, without whom we'd be too preoccupied with securing food and retaining heat to do much at all.
  80. Modern medicine, whose advances have brought us lifespans well into the 80s...
  81. ...and its promise to deliver more of the same for the future, which shows no signs of stopping.
  82. All of the diseases I don't have, thanks to modern medical knowledge...
  83. ...and all of those that are so very close to eradication, thanks to the same.
  84. In general, the ever-accelerating march of human understanding...
  85. ...and the likes of Raymond Arnold, who are bringing people together to celebrate our common humanity.
  86. That love in this world so often vanquishes hate, even if it's difficult to remember for all the hating we still see.
  87. That our nation is no longer at war for our basic liberty,
  88. nor at war to secure the basic liberties of others,
  89. nor at war in defense of democracy a continent away,
  90. nor on the brink of nuclear death.
  91. (And that any 'war' today comes nowhere close to those in our past.)
  92. That nuclear weapons have not taken human life in two generations...
  93. ...and for the decreasing odds that they will in the imminent future.
  94. That renewable energy is on the rise, before our planet is uninhabitable.
  95. That space is so close to us, and the stars not that much farther off.
  96. That the universe, incomprehensibly, is comprehensible.
  97. The past, and that it's brought us here.
  98. The future, and the promise it brings.
  99. That I have hours free in my life to blog about that which makes me thankful...
  100. ...and that I've got a blog at all, to collate my thoughts where sometimes other people care to read them.