I'd probably write something about how I'm a mass transit geek in the form of a story about taking a ride, I suppose. I've been a SoCal boy most of my life so the few trips a year up there are always exciting. I'd then contrast it to Los Angeles, and maybe use BART as an example of how different the atmosphere is from LA.
UC Santa Barbara. Sometimes we get no respect even though we got two Nobels last year, have the Nanosystems Institute, Theorretical Physics, etc. I don't really care, I suppose, because I get to listen to the ocean every night for free.
And meh to US news. The fact that they rank Berkeley as #20 is pretty iffy, as it should be up there with the Ivies.
And dear god, no, it's not me-it's from the video.
As soon as possible! After you've developed a positive and lengthy relationship, of course.
I have one professor I e-mail every now and then that I took a number of small classes with and am on a first-name basis with.
Another I only took one course with, but it was a small seminar and I did excellently, and did a number of different projects for, including leading a class session, term paper, etc. Ditto on the e-mail and first name basis.
I say as soon as possible because you want them to remember you and it gives you more of an opportunity to show you weren't just using them by continuing to talk to them afterwards(you never know when you might need another rec for something else) and LSAC will keep them.