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MIT student blogger Lulu L. '09

A day without rain by Lulu L. '09

+ pictures of yosemite

I was born in the province of Sichuan and speak the Sichuan dialect. I imagine it as the equivalent of a southern hill-billy drawl. Therefore, I, the Sichuan native, belong to a species quite closely resembling what is a home-grown, born and bred, red-blooded American hick.

It’s strange to me to be considered an East-Coaster– a city-dweller, an on-the-go young professional from the Northeast. However, in any kind of a tight bind, I’ve been known to identify myself “Boston”, sometimes, “New Haven”, and if someone really presses, even a little bit “New York”. Well, as an East-Coaster, naturally I have some complaints about the weather. Largely, there is none.

For the first month and a half I was here I did not see a cloudy day. We went about our lives in front of a still picture of a backdrop. Picture perfect, of course. I began to forget about weather altogether.

Recently I purchased a bicycle, to help me commute to and from work. I moved to a shared house in Los Altos Hills (subletting for a short time) which is some 5 miles away. Someone asked me recently how I would get to work “if it rained”.

“So, what if it rained?”, they said.
“It won’t.”
But it’d never occurred to me before.

This made me quite sad. I’d begun to forget about rain.

A week ago it rained. I still lived in the lodge then. It had been threatening to rain all day– darker and denser clouds than I’ve seen here yet rolled across the sky. One wave after another. The day was filled with tension. Questions perched at the tips of our tongues. Speculation abound.

“Most summers it doesn’t rain even once. At least not lately. We’d be pretty lucky if we get a good rain storm this year,” some co-workers explained. And we waited. Our eyes flickering to the windows, while outside it darkened.

4 p.m.– Our building shook with a loud noise and a rattling sound persisted– a pit-pat, pit-pat. “Is it raining?” One co-worker rushed to the windows. Then another. Soon, there was a small gathering near the one window not blocked by foliage. I peered out, hopeful.

A sliver of light peeked through the dark clouds– glowing gold with afternoon sun. I squinted for movement. My eyes searched. Pavement. Glimmers. Dark objects against which the streaks would show.

Everyone wanted to know. “Is it?”

No, it was the A/C.

That evening under the blue and black sky sitting streetside near a cafe in downtown Mountain View, I popped open my laptop leaned my bike against the wireframe table and propped my feet up on an empty chair. The streets were motion and people. The clouds that had obstructed the sunset shuddered and from the sky came several drops of rain. One landed on my face, and I looked up. Another on my computer screen.

Later that night it rained in earnest. The unmistakable rustle of trees. I snuck out of bed at 4am, kicked my roommate’s snoring friend, and stood on the porch to smell the rain. The rain rolled off the dry leaves, bounced around on the dry grass below and barely wetted the dry dirt before it evaporated. The whole thing lasted about 10 minutes. But it was enough. I was happy.


Without further ado here are some Yosemite pictures:

Like I said earlier, here is the context for the pictures: Satellite group here (at NASA) went on an observing trip to Yosemite. They were building a low cost 30(?) inch telescope and set it up on Glacier Point to observe for two nights. I tagged along.

General pictures

Some hiking trails that led up to a waterfall:

this one is a stitched panorama taken at the top of the waterfall:

The telescope was set up at Glacier Point (daytime and night shots):

The end!


21 responses to “A day without rain”

  1. christine says:

    I’m a Californian (but derived from the Xiamen line of people) and love Yosemite — your sky pictures are brilliant! What camera settings did you use?

  2. Rachel '12 says:

    Beautiful! I love the contrast, especially in the waterfall pics smile

  3. Wings '11 says:

    I live in California, but my parents aren’t the outdoors type, so I’ve never been to Yosemite =( I love nature, though, so I’ll make it out there one of these days!

    I’m glad you got your rain =)

  4. Aaron says:

    Is that title an Enya reference?

  5. Hawkins '12 says:

    Great pictures! Wow, I really want to go to Yosemite now… They have some of the best climbs in the world, and obviously some great scenery.

  6. Ah….Sichuan, the land of Jiuzhaigou and where time passes so slowly that you can sip a cup of tea leisurely to while away the whole afternoon.

  7. oasis '11 says:

    …is like a day without sunshine.

    Wow, the first picture can viably make its way to a promotional postcard! :]

  8. oasis '11 says:

    …is like a day without sunshine.

    Wow, the first picture can viably make its way to a promotional postcard! :]

  9. Freiddie says:

    Wonderful photos! I like the way you photographed them.
    (So you do have a Chinese descent)

  10. ANIFF says:


  11. Sam Jackson says:

    Hey, I have almost all of those photos from my own camera(s)! Heh.

    Yosemite is absolutely fabulous… I was in the Southwest some in June, and the lack of mosquitos (mostly) was very welcome, as opposed to sometimes-swampy July Tuolomne Meadows, but it was all good. It would definitely get to me if we didn’t have nice (read: exciting) weather all year round, though. I made ‘someplace there is snow’ a requirement when applying to schools : )

  12. lulu says:

    Settings for the night shots:

    f/4.5 or whatever was the lowest I could get.
    TRIPOD raspberry

    I’ve never listened to Enya but who knows MAYBE!

    Yosemite is great :D

    dance dance dance

  13. Henry says:

    I come from the province uf Jilin . I want to know more about your collage .can you help me.

  14. Tom says:

    Great night shots! It makes me jealous. My digicam tends to introduce too much noise every time I try to do that :-( One of these days, though, I’ll be able to photograph by the new moon.

  15. Paul '11 says:

    Hey Lulu, I love all your photographs but these are some of the best…you have a great eye. My favorite is the two people on the top of the mountain, gazing out into the distance…very longing.

    How did you stitch the panorama – Photoshop?

  16. lulu says:

    paul- thanks for the compliment! smile

    re: the messy stitching– yeah, photoshop, when I took the pictures I put the settings on manual and fixed it for all 15 (or more…) pictures that I took that I ended up stitching together. This way the lighting and stuff was more uniform. One thing I kinda forgot about though– dont tilt the camera. It’s too confusing to deal with.

  17. IOU says:

    Sichuan people can’t possibly be more hick than Guangxi people. We’ve got “autonomous region” plastered on the official province name. =(

  18. Chou says:

    Hi Lulu, great to know that you are born in Sichuan where I am currently! I’m actually thinking about applying for MIT this year. Your blog is enjoyable and hope you will write more about your application experience.

  19. ZheWang says:

    We are both Chinese!!!!!!!!!
    How exciting I am!!!!!!!!!!!
    I don’t know exactly what destiny is,and may that’s it.
    Hi Lulu!
    I am a 20 year-old girl from Beijing. Actually, I just want to search some information about MIT,cause I want to pursue my further study abroad, and then I was caught by your blog. I guess you are a Chinese girl through your picture. Fortunately, I have a right guess.
    I am very happy to show my excitement to you. I sincerely hope to make friend with you. It’s really a kind of magical cooincidence. If it is convenient to you, you can reply to me with several words.
    My e-mail address : [email protected]
    If you are not interested in me, it dosen’t matter. I just want to send my best wishes to you.
    Hope you are happy everyday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Paul '11 says:

    No problem Lulu! I would have never guessed that there were 15+ pictures in that panorama…wow! The discrepancies are only really noticeable on the right-hand side, the part that shows the valley is truly stunning.

  21. Corey says:

    That’s so great. Especially since I’ve been on some of the rocks in your photos. Yosemite is a great place.