March 25, 2006

I Blew Up A Peep

Yes, I was bored. I had a peep. I had a microwave. I had an idea. You now have a picture of the outcome.

I'll Be Gone This Week

Ahoy, it's Friday evening and I'll be gone all Spring Break so don't expect any blog entries. I'm going to Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and all sorts of other places. The main reason for the visit is for college visitations. We're hitting MIT the first day but since they aren't offering tours I get to just wander around and explore for myself. I'm really excited for that! Then we're going to Johns Hopkins for an interview for my application, and then finally we're going to Cornell for a tour. To finish off the trip we're touring Washington DC on, get this, Segway scooters at night. An evening, lighted tour of all the monuments on Segway scooters. In New York my goal is to a) Find the cash cab and b) Visit all the places from Seinfeld. In Maryland I'm gonna visit Camden Yards because the Orioles rock!, and in Massachusetts it's really only about MIT! I'll fill you in on how the trip goes when I get back. . . .see yall later! I'll take tons of pictures and get some posted. Ciao!

March 24, 2006

Licking my head?!?!?!?

Yesterday was the second installment of the district qualifying rounds for state but this time it was all debate. It was definitely an experience, and most of the experience had nothing to do with the debates I did. I have a couple of stories, so I'll tell them one at a time.
  1. DEBATE OUTCOMES: I do Lincoln-Douglas debate, which is a one on one debate over a resolution (topic) that is predecided. You research and write an affirmative and negation case and have to debate both sides at the tournament. At this tournament three people were elegible to qualify for state competition. The reason 3 were able to qualify is because 6 people were debating LD, but there's trickery behind that. Of the 6 debating, three were just there as "sacrificial lambs", destined to lose in order to send more people to state. I was one of those lambs. I can debate and can hold my own fairly well, but I don't particularly enjoy debate as much as some, I'd rather go for the indirect competition like sock monkey speech than go head to head with somebody else. Anywho, I was approached and asked to do this on Tuesday. Yes, I had 2 days to write my cases, including research. After a lot of help from the other debators on my team (thanks) I had two fairly decent cases. So, now for the debates. One girl that was competing had qualified for Nationals in debate, so it was a given that we were going to lose to her and it was a fight for 2nd and 3rd. So, we debated. My first round seemed to go well, I felt confident and it wasn't a massacre or anything, I thought I made the better arguments. That's the same as my third round, I was pretty sure that I had that one in the bag because I pretty much ripped apart my oponent's case. The second round however, can be best described as "Hello, my name is Michael, and I've been raped by a five foot nothing cute blonde girl that is going to Nationals and, although nice looking, is as vicious as a shark and will eat you alive, then pick her teeth with your bones. How are you?" Yeah, it was ugly, she dissected my entire case and turned all my contentions before explaining rather efficently how all of my contentions actually supported her case and that my case was, essentially, a steaming pile of cow dung. I left that round feeling, well, like a steaming pile of cow dung. There were only three rounds, so at awards I found out that I had come in 4th of six and was an alternate for state. Of course, all three people that did qualify will be going, so I won't be pulling my alternate duty. Here's the weird part, ready? I lost my first and third rounds. I, actually, got smoked my first and third rounds. The second round, the raped by the shark round, I won. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?!?!?! The sacrificial lamb loses to two random people and then is the only person that beats the national qualifier? Sigh, I just don't understand these things. Oh well, it works out well for me, because now I don't have to debate at state (which I didn't want to do in the first place), I get a certificate, and I beat a national qualifier, so I'm happy. Yay for weird coincidences.
  2. UNO!: So, on the way to the tournament we stopped at the grocery store for food but instead of food, I bought UNO! OMG, what a great game! It is the official speech and debate team game now. 7 people all huddled around playing Uno and insulting each other so as to warm up for their next round is really fun! I've never heard more creative bad mouthing and more delibrate backstabbing! "Ooooo! Draw 4 B_t_h_s! What now?!?!? Uh oh! Stack that you J_w, draw eight! Oh yeah?!?!? I made my own card so now you draw 20 you M_T_E_ F_C_E_!" Keep in mind, I wasn't the one cussing like a sailor, but it was funny. The debate crowd can get lively.
  3. HEAD LICKING: All right, this is a weird one, so get ready. I was sitting there and a girl named Sasha came up and rubbed the back of my head. I have short hair so the hair on the back of my head feels cool when rubbed, so it wasn't a surprise when she rubbed my head. A lot of people do it. Anyways, she says "Sorry, I had to feel your head, it feels really cool." I politely agree and let her know it's ok and that a lot of people do it. Here is the really quite creepy part. She says, to my utter shock "You know what feels really good, both for both of us? If somebody has a cowlick there on the back of their head and you lick it. It feels really cool both for the person licking and the person being licked, but I won't lick you because I don't know you. . ." [pause, I just kinda sit there, stunned]. "Um, yeah" I say, finding words, "you don't know me so that wouldn't really be a good idea." That's it, that's all I could say. WTF do you say to that? She was practically asking if she could lick the back of my head! After she left, I whipped around and asked my girlfriend (who was sitting there the whole time) "Um, that was weird, wasn't it?" "Yes" "Normal people don't do that, right?" "No" "Did she seriously want to lick the back of my head? How would she ever know how that would feel? Does she lick peoples' heads?" "Um, weird" "Wow". Yeah, it was definitely strange and I'm not sure I'll ever let anybody lick the back of my head, but if anybody has experienced this type of activity then I'd like to hear from you and know if it actually does feel cool, because I probably will never experience it.

Yep, there it is, debate for me. I am done debating for the year, so now all focus is on sock monkey. That should be fun. Ok, that's all for now, thanks for reading!

March 23, 2006

Yay for Sock Monkeys!

So, Districts was yesterday, and I'm proud to say that sock monkeys held its own. True, there were only 3 other people in my round, but WHATEVER! First place is first place! Now sock monkey has a 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, and a 4th place. That's pretty sweepy. I have pictures of my ballots, just like my impromptu entry, but first I wanna talk a bit about my speeches. I gave two, so let's go over the first one first. I spoke last and I was really comfortable so I started to make parts of my speech up. That was a mistake, because my coach was working in the judges room and after my round he came out and said "Snively, next time ask for time signals." Uh Oh. This type of speech is 8 minutes long, but they'll let you go up to 30 seconds late, so the MAX is 8:30. I had spoken for 8:37. Not good, especially considering that my speech has been hovering around8:02 the entire year. Oh. That's right. I remember. I improved stuff and added things. Oops. Let's not do that next round. So, I didn't and I asked for time signals from 1 minute down and finished up at 8:15, a great time. Ok, now, a bit about my ballots. Two of them are stupid. Two of them are not. The one with the purple pen is stupid because
  • She wants me to make two more visuals AND cut my speech down
  • She thinks I have more than 100 quoted words (read my speech, I have 99)
  • She got "seasick"
  • She gave me 3rd place in that round for going over time and having too many quoted words (which I didn't!)

The other one that's stupid is the one that gave me 30 speaker points (yay!) but didn't give me a ranking, so I'm not sure what place I got. So, here are the ballots, hope you find them as exciting as I do! Oh, click on them to make them bigger so that you can actually read them. Also, notice the timestamp on this entry. I am tired. I went to bed at 3 AM last, um, morning I guess, and it is late now, so the humor may be lacking from this entry, but bare with me, humor will return to my blog once I figure out how to sleep again.

Oh, and in reference to another of my entries, the hamster wheel tipped me out today and then ran me over repeatedly until my brain felt like soggy cornflakes. Mmmmm, school. I will beat you school! I WILL WIN! p.s. I hate english Ooh, just remembered (wow, please ignore the huge organizational issues in this post, it's ridiculous) that at the tournament I saw my ex-gf. I also noticed that she never actually smiled at me and whenever I looked at her she was glaring at me. I asked somebody to verify, just to make sure I wasn't biased or anything, but sure enough, they agreed and said that she would glare at me and then whip around and whisper to somebody really quickly, who would look over at me and then whisper back. I'm not sure what all that means, but I do know that I was wearing a very cool new suit so they DEFINITELY weren't making fun of my outfit. Ok, now I think I'm done blogging for the night, unless I think of something else. Which is likely. Bye. Oh, I used 1337 in my speech. That was cool.

March 21, 2006

Sock Monkey Finale Approaches

So, tomorrow is it, Districts for Sock Monkey Speech. If I do well in districts then I go on to State. I have a good feeling about this, and here's why. Only two people get to go to state from my district, right? Doesn't sound good, until you consider that only 4 people are competing, 3 of which go to my school. I have beat the other two people that go to my school at every tournament I've gone to, so I'm not worried about them. I've never met the person from the other school, but I figure even If I just beat the two from my school I don't need to worry about the person from the other school. Wish me luck, notice the time stamp on this entry and you'll realize that it's time for me to get ready for tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes! Ciao!

March 19, 2006

My Homework Analogy! [UPDATE]

The goal in everybody's life is to move forward. This is also true in the case of homework. It is best to finish one assignment, move on to the next, finish that one, and then continue until all assignments are completed. Simple enough, right? Well, elementary school was easy enough to succeed in that, seeing as assignments weren't even actually graded. If you didn't do one it wasn't a big deal, and they all got smiley faces on them. I equate this to ice skating, skating along and maybe sometimes having a rough time, but you just keep going forward no matter what. Every once in a while you hit an edge but you never fall, just keep going as if nothing happened. This is easy and quite lovely, because who doesn't like ice skating? Then comes middle school. Middle school got harder. You actually got grades on assignments and the assignments actually took work. I would equate the middle school workload to running on a hot day. It's hard, uncomfortable, and tiring, but you still move forward and end up someplace different. Also, that wonderful drink of cold water/graduation is Oh So Sweet that it makes the whole thing worth it. Again, some patches of the course are harder than the others, uphill and challenging, maybe even impossible-looking, but manageable. Now, we encounter High School. I have decided that the homework load in high school is similar to a screwed up demon hamster wheel from Hell. Here's my reasoning behind this. I have yet to be done with my homework this year. I can work on homework all day and all night, yet I will still be sitting in the commons the next morning working on homework for some reason, because it never ends. In class I'm doing homework, at home I'm doing homework, and in the morning in the commons I'm doing homework. Do I ever finish? No. Do I get any satisfaction in knowing that I have completed a certain task or set of tasks? No, because I'm doing something else. So, hamster wheel. Not getting anywhere, constantly running my butt off, and the faster I run to get ahead the harder I have to work until *BAM!* I fall flat on my face and swing back and forth for a little while until I get back up and start running again. Does this not seem cruel and unusual? Does it not seem maybe a lil inhumane? Maybe? Maybe? What do I have to do to get the wheel to just fall off and let me run free? When will I get to do homework that means something and that I can actually finish and feel as if I have accomplished something? Everything right now just drags on and on and never finishes. HOMEWORK WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME!!!! Now, I'm off to do it. Wish me luck, but know that your luck will be wasted because I won't finish. Ever. and ever.ever. The End.

[UPDATE] All of the animations I had are now broken links, so they have been removed, causing this post to become a giant, 1 paragraph rant. Enjoy.

March 17, 2006

Mirrors, Wax, and Bagpipes

Did the title of this entry confuse you? Good, that was its job. All three words describe one of the best physics classes I've had this year. It started with a lab. I love physics labs, they're just plain fun. This lab was absolutely fascinating. Place a candle on one end of a meter stick, a paper on the other end, and a lense inbetween them. The trick is to move the candle and the paper until the flame and candle are displayed on the paper in focus. It was really easy and very fun because we kept shining the light through the mirror and focusing it on people, trying to burn stuff, and just generally enjoying the magical world of optics. Well, we discovered that when candles melt they create wax (profound), so then we started playing with the wax. It was dripping all over the table before we discovered something productive to do with it. We folded our labs into envelopes and sealed them with wax. Yes, easily entertained. Now, for the bagpipes. Our teacher plays the bagpipes, and he brought them today. So, after waxing and burning and lighting we were serenaded by bagpipes for the last ten minutes of class. He was dressed up in the Scottish gear just like the guy in this picture and he played all sorts of stuff for us. Bagpipes are very loud in person, I had no idea. All in all, it was a very relaxing and nice day in physics. That's all.


Well, the picture is small (click it, it gets bigger), but yes, it's true, I conducted a band. . . all by my self! Chalk this down as a happy moment for the Snively. Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Every year my school hosts a band concert for all of the elementary and middles schools that feed into it. That includes the (this year massive) 5th grade beginning band, a band from each middle school that feeds into my school (three), and two bands from my school. 6 bands, one gym, a lot of chairs. This isn't about the chairs though, so we'll skip that part. Remember, there are multiple bands from the schools, so there aren't enough directors to cover them all, so this year our director said that if anybody would like to try out that they could conduct a band in the combined closer. Combined closer=everybody in the gym (400ish) playing the same song at the same time. Well, I haven't mentioned this in my blog yet, but I wanted to be Drum Major SOOOOOOO bad last year that it wasn't even funny. This next year I'm absolutely determined to make it. Any opportunity to conduct and show leadership is one more apple in my basket, so I jumped at the opportunity. About 15 people auditioned for three spots. Most of the people auditioning had no conducting experience and went in fairly unprepared. I, however, attended a Drum Major leadership camp last summer and spent 4 hours a day conducting to such classics as Bohemian Rhapsody and the soundtrack to Crimson Tide. I was fairly confident. My audition went very well, I conducted to a recording of the combined number and our assistant director (who rocks) adjuticated me. His only comments were not to bob to the beat, reach my arms out farther, and turn my hands in a bit. I didn't make any conducting mistakes, I hit all the cues, I changed styles for the snare solos and the slow part, and I nailed the cut-off. Nothing I could have done better really. This was 2 days ago. Today they posted the results and sure enough, I made it! Our two Drum Majors and three of us would be conducting tonight. This may just be me being happy, but the list wasn't in alphabetical order, nor was it in "order of audition" order, and I was at the top. I'll just tell myself that that means I did the best, true or not, it's an ego boost. At the concert our director introduced all of us and we got to stand and bow, and then we went to our respective bands. The other folks went to various middle school bands, but I got picked to conduct the Wind Ensemble, the top group at our school. Yay! So, we conducted the song (see picture, I'm the one in the tux waving his arms around). It went really well and the bands only pulled away from the tempo once, but they caught on to the slower tempo we were giving, so it turned out ok. We finished, stood up, bowed, and everybody clapped.

I have decided that I really enjoy conducting. It's something that's still musical, but so much more rewarding and just plain neat. Leading 50 people and creating live music however you want. . . .haven't you ever been listening to the radio and just wanted the song to speed up just a bit, or slow down and take more time, get louder or softer? Conducting is like the ultimate live and adjustable radio! I hope to conduct more, but I'm not sure when. Our assistant director said he'd tutor me and help me prepare for drum major tryouts so that I stand a better shot. I'll update you on how that goes. That's all for now, ciao!

March 15, 2006

Taco Time

If you haven't read the below entry, do so. It explains how I ended up at Taco Time.
Done Reading? Ok, so here's the next Taco Time story. Consider the following picture:

This picture is "art". What happened to me was not. 5 of us were sitting at Taco Time eating. I had some type of enchilada/burrito thing that I had to eat with a fork and a knife. Alas, there were no knives, so I was cutting my burrito with a fork, no big deal, doesn't require a lot of skill, or so you might think. So, I'm sitting there, cutting along, when all of a sudden *SNAP*!!! The fork shatters in my hands, eliminating the the only barrier between my hand a plate full of food. That means that my hand was now fully submerged in burrito. It also meant that what food was on said fork during the snappage was flung through the air in my general direction, and let's remember that I'm in a tuxedo. Now there's more burrito on me and my hand than on my plate. Cue laughter from all around. Everybody just sits there laughing as I sit there in disbelief, covered in burrito and my hand in my burrito. Not cool. Finally somebody got up and gave me some napkins to clean myself up with, but I think there is still some cheese on my tie. Anywho, the lesson to be learned is that platic forks do break, and often in an extravagant manner, so be warned. It could happen to you!

March 14, 2006

Secret....AGENT MAN!!!!

There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Today was a band concert in the morning. That meant waking up at 4:00 AM, getting to school at 6:00, and then sitting on a bus in a tuxedo for over an hour to get to the concert. Once there, we played to an audience of *listens expectantly but only hears cricket chirps* nobody, did some sight reading, listened to another band and then left. Yes, w00, what fun (excuse me, I think some sarcasm just dripped onto my keyboard). But, the thing that made it all worth it was the Taco Time experience. After the concert we all hopped in the bus and went to get lunch. A group of 5 of us went across the street to get Taco Time. As we walked there a friend of mine, we’ll call him Jake for anonymity’s sake, made an off hand remark that he felt as if he were being protected by secret service agents. I looked and sure enough, I was wearing a tux and the person on his other side was wearing a tux too. We laughed, and started touching our “earpieces” and talking into our wrist “microphones”. All of a sudden we heard gunshots so we dove in front of Jake to “protect” him, quickly shuttling him into the front entrance of Taco Time. After lunch we had to get our client back to the bus. Recall that there were 5 of us, meaning there was another tux-y and another plain-clothes. The three of us took it upon ourselves to protect Jake and, we’ll call her Alyssa. The secret service agents left first, making sure it was safe. All of a sudden Alyssa made a run for it and just ran away! My co-agent and I started sprinting after her, yelling into our wrist “microphones” the whole time. Eventually my partner tackled her and knocked her to the ground. He rolled away and she stayed down long enough for me to cover her. Cue homeless guy. He comes over and says to Alyssa “Are you ok? Did you just get stiffed? I think that kid is drunk, are you sure you are ok?” Alyssa just stood there, trying to be polite until the crosswalk turned to walk. It did. She took off again, us in hot pursuit. This time we stopped her without tackling her. She escaped again, but we had to let her go so that we could focus the rest of our efforts on Jake. Walking Jake back to the bus we passed the entrance to the parking lot we were in and a car was trying to turn in. We yelled and dove in front of Jake so that he wouldn’t cross (just a reminder, we’re definitely in tuxedos this whole time). The lady in the car waved at us, saying we could pass. We quickly nodded, touched our earpieces just to make sure it was clear, and then grabbed Jake and quickly hustled him across, me turning around and covering the rear with my hand in my jacket in case force was necessary. We eventually made it to the bus and quickly shoved Jake on board. Mission Accomplished! Good Job Team!


MONGO! If you haven't seen Shrek 2 it's a must see. There are so many funny references to other movies and pure hilarity that even though you realize it's a movie for little kids, it's still funny. Now, to the topic of this blog entry: Mongo. Mongo is THE coolest character in either of the two Shrek movies. In case you couldn't tell by the picture, Mongo is a giant gingerbread man. Unfortunately, the only picture I could find of him was a screenshot from a video game when he was a boss, so he seems mean. In the movie he's very nice and tries to help Shrek into the castle, thereby preventing Fiona from marrying Prince Charming. Here is why Mongo is cool:
  • He's always smiling and making curious grunting noises, like a big teddy bear.
  • He's easily distracted and has funny reactions.
  • He knows the words to "Livin' la Vida Loca".
  • He can survive underwater.

Basically, the storyline with Mongo is that they go to Dreary Lane and create this giant gingerbread man to get them into the castle. The wander through downtown "Far Far Away" town towards the castle but Mongo gets distracted and sees a giant cup of Farbucks Coffee. Well, it's actually an advertisement and when Mongo realizes this he gets upset and almost starts crying. Donkey (currently a stallion) intervenes and says "Mongo! Mongo! Here Mongo, follow the horsey Mongo!" Mongo says: "OOooooh! Horsey!" Extends his arms like a little child and chases after the horsey. Sadly, when trying to enter the castle, Mongo gets drenched with hot foam and his arms rip off, causing him to fall backwards and scream "Noooooooo!" as he falls. He lands on his back in the moat. Well, the little gingerbread man can't handle this and almost goes insane, but that's a different story. Anyways, Mongo is gone, laying on his back in the moat, dead. . . or is he? The last sequence of the movie is a party sequence and the cast sings "Livin' la Vida Loca". During one of the chorus parts, all of a sudden the screen flashes to Mongo in the moat, laying on his back, and he sings "Livin' la Vida Loca" underwater and bubbles come to the top of the moat! It was HILARIOUS! Mongo is just a big ol' doof with a low voice and tries his hardest to help, but ends up just laying on his back in a moat with no arms. We love Mongo. And now, for some Mongo trivia:

  • The gigantic Gingerbread Man that storms the castle of Far Far Away, is a reference to the "Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man" from Ghost Busters (1984).
  • The Giant Gingerbread Man's last words "Be good" are a reference to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
  • When Mongo throws the flaming gumdrop button at the catapaulters, they're heard to scream "Run away, run away" - a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), also starring John Cleese.

March 12, 2006

Angry At Parents

Teenagers have hormones. Given. Parents always say "Those teenagers and their crazy hormones. You never know what mood they're going to be in 10 minutes from now." Given. So, this evening when I've been wrestling on a statistics test for about an hour and my mom continually makes me get up and clean my room (I finish and sit back down), get up and have her inspect it (I finish and sit back down), put all of my clothes away (I finish and sit back down), feed my dog (I finish and sit back down) and then yells at me for being short with her and says that it's not HER fault that I'm behind in school, it makes me wonder why she only thinks about hormones when she's not experiencing the effects of them. She doesn't understand that when all she has me do are chores and waits for me to settle down before she has me do another one that I'm going to get really irritated really quickly. "Not my problem!" she says. True, hormones, but you're gonna have to deal with it because I can't control it. "Well, tough," she says, "You're gonna have to learn to deal with it!" Great. I will. After my body stops preventing me from acheiving said "learning". To all the parents out there, when your child is attempting to be a responsible youth and do homework and you constantly interrupt them and then yell at them for "getting behind". . .FREAKING STOP! You're the one making us angry, hormones are the reason we stay angry, and if you just leave us alone eventually you will get what you want. Until then you're going to just have one really angry child that's gonna put you in a bad mood and the homework will never get finished. I've said my peace, learn parents, learn.

March 11, 2006

MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This is where I tell you about what the last 5 years of my life have been completely devoted to. I've always liked math (any readers of this blog will simply say "Duh" to that statement) and have always liked learning it, so that leads me to the college question. In late elementary school and middle school is when people started asking me what I wanted to be and where I wanted to go to college. These questions were a little unfair for my age, but it did get me thinking. So, I asked my parents about good math colleges, and they mentioned MIT. They said that it was the best math and technology college in the entire country. "Ok," I said, "I'll go there." For the last 5 years of my life I have been doing my best to make that statement true. In middle school I took the hardest classes I could, took all the classes for high school credit that I could, and then in high school I've been taking the hardest classes that I can. But, not just the hardest, but the best suited for this particular school. I can't even begin to convey how many times I've read the curriculum requirements and suggestions on MIT's website, how many forums I've been to looking for college suggestions, how many counselors I've talked to about which classes to take. Basically, my school career for the last half decade has been tailored to exactly what MIT wants.
I began striving for MIT after only hearing that it was good, so why am I still trying to get in? Perhaps I was misguided and there are better colleges out there for me? The truth is, the more and more I look into MIT the more and more I realize that it is the absolute perfect college for me. You have absolutely no idea how many times I've heard something about MIT and thought "Ah!!1! That's me!". Examples, you say? Ok, here:
  • MIT hacks. Various clean pranks played on the MIT campus. A few of my favorites include the Toy Story alien claw/ice cream machine, the R2D2 great dome disguise, and the Vannevar Shrubbery Room (GENIUS!).
  • The Mystery Hunts! Every year MIT has what is known as a mystery hunt. Basically, a bunch of teams get together and solve riddles/clues to lead them to a coin. First team to find the coin wins. You have to utilize computer labs, phones, all your available resources to beat out the other teams. . . .scavanger hunt to the extreme!
  • Random Hall. What is there to say about random hall except YOU ROCK! They actually rigged up their bathroom to a server and broadcast stats on the internet. Before you leave the comfort of your computer to use the facilities simply visit to see if there are any available stalls. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! Also, they did the same thing to their washing machines and dryers, but I think they've been having some server issues with those. Regardless, I dream of Random Hall.
  • MIT has a Rubik's Cube club. Yep, enough said.
  • Ever heard of the MIT blackjack team? They took Vegas for thousands, and rumor has it that if you talk to the right people, there is still a small group at MIT practicing their tactics. Hm, secret MIT societies. . . exciting!
  • Little things in life that I enjoy often have ties to MIT. For instance the board game Deflexion. It's basically like chess with lasers. Well, after buying it I was cruising the Deflexion website and sure enough, the first Deflexion championships were being held at MIT. The movie Armaggedon? The funny looking guy that solves the Rubik's Cubes attended MIT. Clocky, the moving alarm clock that runs away from you. I was told about it at a speech tournament and thought it sounded awesome. Sure enough, an MIT creation. Watching a show about crop circles on tv and they were trying to debunk them. Who were the scientists? Those crazy MIT engineers.
  • The MIT engineer fight song is, well, allow me to quote a line: "An MIT surveyor once found the gates of hell//He looked the devil in the eye and said 'You're looking well'//The devil lookd right back at him and said 'Why visit me?'//'You've been through hell already, you went to MIT!'" Follow that up with a chorus involving drunken engineers and you've got yourself a party, w00t!
  • Have you seen the new robotics buildings at MIT? Straight out of Doctor Seuss! I would go to MIT just to see those!

Basically, I've pretty much devoted myself to getting into MIT. I'm taking the highest math classes possible, taking leadership roles in band, taking computer courses, doing research about MIT, taking hard classes, keeping my grades up, and most important of all, I am absolutely dedicated to getting into this school. There is nothing I wouldn't do to get in, and that's what I believe sets me apart from all of the other kids trying to get in. I'm not just applying to all of the big math colleges hoping to get into one. I want MIT, and I want it bad! I've got a secret weapon up my sleeve too, something I can pretty much bet not a lot of the other applicants can boast. What is it? Well, since it's too late for anybody else to achieve it, I'll tell you. Perfect Attendance. "Why should that matter?" you ask. From Kindergarten through thusfar in Junior year and continuing on next year into senior year, I have never missed a day of school due to illness, vacation, or anything. The only time I have ever missed school is for mandatory school trips or field trips that pull me away from other classes to attend a certain class. In my opinion this above all else shows my dedication and drive. When I set out to do something I keep going until I get it. If I can go 12 years and never miss a day of school, I believe I can get into MIT. Wish me luck, it begins now.


I just bought a brand new computer program, and I love it. "What's it called?" you ask. . . .MATHEMATICA! Bwahahaha, the most powerful math program known to man! Normally selling for $2,500 I procured it for the low low price of $130 because I am a student. It is absolutely amazing! You may ask why I would buy math software, well, let me tell you a story.

My dad picked me up from school one day and asked "What do you know about Mathematica?" I told him that I didn't know anything about it. Well, he explained that a friend at work was talking about it. This friend, we'll call him Al, him and I have a nice relationship. When I was in elementary school my dad and I would go over to his house and build tables and puppet theaters, work with computers, and Al even helped teach me how to ride a bike. One of the cool things about Al is that he's a technology genius. He beta-tests computers games as a side job, and beta tested Myst and Riven. For those of you who don't know, beta testing involves doing just about everything on a computer game to check for bugs. Also, if you've ever played Myst or Riven you realize that those games are massive and would take DAYS of beta-testing. I remember notebooks upon notebooks of notes about the games. Anyways, Al asked my dad about Mathematica and explained that it was a must-have for any MIT hopeful like myself. Al went to Stanford and his friend went to MIT, both had Mathematica and everybody else that they knew used Mathematica extensively. The impression that I got was that Mathematica in college was like the TI-83 in high school, a must have. And, Al being the nice guy he is, offered to buy it for me for a graduation gift (that's without the huge student discount). If somebody is willing to buy me $2,500 dollar software I take it upon myself to do some research about said product, and this is what I discovered. Not only does Mathematica do all of the math that my graphing calculator does, but it does so much more. Since it's on the computer it specializes in projects and presentations and can also write equations in proper form, such as this example:

Isn't that neat?!?!? Talk about really nice physics labs and stats projects now! But notation is just scratching the surface. This program
  • Factors/expands polynomials
  • Solves Pi out to, um, wherever you want
  • Solves for as many variables as you want
  • Creates any type of graph under the sun (2D and 3D)
  • Has a whole host of statistical tools
  • Has its own programming language
  • Can transform equations into sound
  • Can animate 3d and 2d graphs
  • Has a dictionary that can be searched, sorted, graphed, edited, and can find anagrams for any word you want.
  • Will map cities, countries, and other geographic locations, telling you the distance between any two points on the globe.
  • Create websites
  • Edit images
  • Countless other things that my brain can't even comprehend right now because the math is so complex.

Basically, I COMPLETELY recommend this software! It comes on only one CD and doesn't take any time to load or run at all because it doesn't have a lot of pictures, but it's so unbelievably powerful it's shocking. It's even slightly intimidating at first, but the help browser is very user friendly and the demos/guides get you off in the right direction. The customer service is very good within the Tech Support department and thus far, there have been no software glitches at all. Please, if you have any interest in math at all, put out the $130 for this $2,500 dollar software. Mathematica will even tell you how much you save:

You save 94.8%! Oh My Gosh, if that's not a deal, I don't know what is. Buy this software!

(oh, if you didn't notice, the AIME post before this one uses Mathematica to show the questions. . .it's so versatile! I love it!)

March 10, 2006

Marching Band Injury Anthology: Part IV

This story has nothing about me being injured, but it does have to do with other people/animals being injured. Every year our school hosts it's own marching band competition known as PCI. We catch a certain amount of flack for it too, because our field isn't in the greatest of shape. It gets a little muddy and sticky. Well, this year our field was particularly mucky. Very very bad, because it had been raining for a long time and it was a veritable sink hole. Well, this is unsafe. After preliminary competition the injury count was up to three, and we're not talking small injury. Two people actually blew out their knees and had to be taken away in an ambulance and another shattered his ankle. Nice? No, not nice! Whoever said that marching band wasn't dangerous? Next story. . . the moth. Yes, the moth.

::::::THE MOTH:::::
Last year marching band, late Monday night rehearsal. The general attitude during late rehearsals is either irritated/tired or laughing/delirious. The clarinet section was the latter of the two during this particular rehearsal. So, we're stopped and the director is working with another section. I'm just standing there and all of a sudden *THWACK* I get hit in the shoulder with something, and I hear hilarity ensue behind me. I turn around to see who threw something at me and everybody was pointing to the ground. I looked and sure enough, a moth. We had been watching him all night, fly around in circles above us like he was drunk, and he finally came down to field-level and flew straight into my shoulder. What a stupid moth! So, we all just kinda gathered around and looked at it on the ground, it looked dead. Then. . . it moved! We jumped, and it flopped around a bit. Then we had to march really quickly, but we ended up back in the same spot, so we checked on the moth. It was still there, flopping around. Fast forward 3 hours until the end of rehearsal. Everybody was off the field and we went back to see if it was still there. It was. Flopping. Injured, hence it's membership in this anthology. It was quite funny, but it's beginning to seem like a had-to-be-there thing. Oh well, you know now anyways. Bye.


The AIME is a math test for uber math geeks. In order to qualify for it you need to get at least 100 points on another math test called the AMC 12. Well, guess what? Oh yeah, 100.5 baby! LOL, yay for barely qualifying! So, I took the AIME. 15 questions, 3 hours, and one hurtin' brain afterwards. The national average score is 2.4 correct (obviously it's a mean, because you can't get half credit). The highest score ever at my school is 3. Needless to say, these are some hard math problems. So, I got to miss CAD, Humanities, and a bunch of Pre-Calc to sit in a board room with 7 other geeks to take the math test. Luckily one of my best friends qualified so we sat across from each other and got to laugh at each other's various "*sigh*. . . *groan*. . .*oh my god!*"s. Oh, and for those of you who read my blog, you will understand the gravity of this next statement. No Calculators Allowed. Yep, that's the killer. So, I'm going to write down 6 questions of the 15. Included in these 6 are the ones I got right, but I'm not going to tell you which and how many. It's your job to guess which ones I got right. Good luck!







So, which ones did I get right??????

Hopefully you can figure out this pretty basic answer to that question:
1 --> 084
2 --> 901
3 --> 725
4 --> 124
5 --> 936
6 --> 360

So, I scored 3/15. I'm proud of myself! Tie the top score of my school! It was so brain-draining! The questions get harder as they progress so towards the end it was just impossible. The last question made no sense to me at all, it seemed impossible to me, as in I understood how to solve it but couldn't get an answer of less than 4 digits. Give it a shot, show it to people that are good at math, and help me find an answer! Here it is:


Thanks for trying to solve that, good luck! Bye!

March 03, 2006


Students Today Aren't Ready For Sex

STARS is a federally funded program in Oregon started by the first lady of Oregon several years ago to teach middle school students safe practices in dealing with sex and sexual pressure. Teen leaders from High School do the teaching. I am one of those teachers.

Yes, that tagline sounds a bit like the opening to a really boring and morally acceptable action movie, but it's not. It's just a segway into several funny stories that have occured during my STARS career. I figured I'd share some of those stories.

  • TRAINING -- The teen leaders/teachers need to attend a training session during school one day. Ok, no problem, leave school early and go to training. That would be easy, if I had any sense of direction at all. What? A training session at noon? No problem, I'll leave school at 11:30 and get there 15 minutes early. WRONG! I left school and promptly got lost. I couldn't seem to find the right street to turn on. Well, after driving back and forth about 4 times I finally discovered that I wasn't travelling far enough to find the road. Ok, I found the road, but then I couldn't find the building. Back and forth again, several times, except now It's on a really busy street with traffic lights, lanes, and other speed-prohibitors. Did I mention that by this time it was noon and a) I was late and b) lunch hour traffic? I'm getting really frustrated by this point, I CAN NOT find the building. Eventually I pull into a parking lot with a map and just sit and stare. Eventually I find out that the building I thought I was trying to find didn't actually exist. The building I needed was farther down the street. Lovely. I finally found the place at 12:30. All the other people that left school at 11:30 were already there. They all laughed at me for getting lost. I felt bad, on to the second part of this story.
  • TRAINING -- The second day of training was a little out of the ordinary. The standard second day of training conflicted with a marching band tournament so I had to go to a make-up training session. Well, there were only 7 people at the make-up and I was the only guy. That made the role-playing portion of the training quite exciting. Seeing as there were an odd number of people to pair up with for role-playing, I was in a group of three. Did I mention that my partners were twins? The role playing was originally designed for just a guy and a girl, with the guy pressuring the girl to have sex. We had to modify that. Now, the two girls were pressuring me to come over to their house to have sex. That made for some funny dialogue.

"Hey Michael, wanna come over to our house after school? Our parents won't be home, we could do whatever we wanted!"

"No thanks"

"Come on! We may never get another chance like this!"

"No, really"

"We know you want to have sex with us, just come over. We would do it if we were you."

Isn't that nice? We were laughing hysterically by the end of it, so funny.

  • TEACHING -- Two funny teaching experiences come immediately to mind. Both involve role-playing, here's the first: After demonstrating role-playing with my co-teacher, we told the kids to practice. We gave them scripts and let the loose, but they quickly discovered a problem. Whereas I had role-played with a female, they were mostly paired up with people of the same sex. They were confused. I quickly gave them the answer to all their problems. . . "Just say 'Hey, do you and your girlfriend wanna come over with me and my girlfriend? We can do whatever we want!'" A kid raises his hand and says "So, just invite more people?" and I say "Yeah" but here is where I VERY nearly made a very crucial mistake. I almost said "Yeah, make it a group thing". Needless to say, that would definetly not be a good idea! So, I skirted it, but phew! That was too close.
  • TEACHING -- While demonstrating the role-playing I was pressuring my co-teacher to have sex with me. We were going back and forth and at the end she was supposed to offer an alternative and I was supposed to say "That sounds great!". Here's what actually occured. Having discovered my affinity towards impromptu, I decided to deviate from the script. She says "I have a better idea. My parents are home, why don't we go to my house and make nachos and we can watch a movie?" I, instead of offering an alternative, say "Um, no. That sounds freakishly boring, I just want to go to my house right now and have sex with you right now." The look on my partner's face was priceless. She was completely caught off-guard. She just stood there, kinda stuttered and said "Um, no." and then she turned around and walked away. Cue uprorus laughter from 6th graders. Yeah, it was great. Good times.

So, that is STARS. I advise everybody to be a teen leader because not only is it a great experience, but you actually get to teach kids to do something good. And you can do fun stuff like I talked about up there ^^^. STARS.....Do it, not sex.

March 02, 2006

Marching Band Injury Anthology: PART III

The third part of the injury anthology occured my freshman year of marching. It was the evening of the homecoming football game and we were having a rehearsal before the game. THis is Halloween so it is getting to be pretty cold. . . try A BAJILLION DEGREES BELOW ZERO! We were losing feeling in many of our limbs. Anyway, at 5 0'clock our director called us all to the podium. He orated "Great work you guys. I know it's cold, but you've done good. I have good news! (no, no geico joke here) Inside the band room is a bunch of really hot spaghetti, but. . . " Nope, no but, we weren't there long enough to hear it. Before the director knew what had happened we had all started sprinting for our gear and up the steps of the stadium. We were running, yelling, biting, screaming, shoving, rolling, and generally acting like a pack of wild animals toting trombones and clarinets. Finally we made it to the entrance/exit but alas, the protective fence that keeps intruders out had locked us in. We frantically ran back and forth along the fence trying to find a way out, not unlike a large group of hungry and cold hamsters. Finally, having given up the search for an unlocked exit, several of us began scaling the chain-linked fence to get out. I lept to the fence and began scaling it. At the top I was just about to get over when somebody else jumped onto the fence and shook it. I fell. Well, all of my but my right hand, it decided to vacation on the sharp spike at the top of the fence for a short while before joining me on the ground.

My brain thinks "Ouch, I just fell about 8 feet onto the ground. My hand hurts. . . wow! That's deep!" I looked at my hand and then up at the top of the fence. The glove that I HAD been wearing was now spiked securely to the top of the fence (that means the spike went through the glove while my hand was in it). My hand had a large hole in it, about an inch and a half long, and was bleeding quite a bit. I could see the muscle and fat inside of it, pretty graphic. I quickly clamped my other hand over it and left through the gate (which was now unlocked). People walking around me had seen me fall and were gathering around me on the way to the band room, asking if I was ok. I showed them my hand. They stopped asking.

In the band room I found my director and said "Mac, I don't think I'll be marching tonight." "Why?" "Well, look." I show him hand. He freaks. "WHAT DID YOU DO!?!?" "Well, it was an accident". After some back and forth conversation we decided that I probably would need medical attention because the current status of a paper towel/duct tape bandaid that we had devised wouldn't last forever. My dad is a fireman and was on duty so I gave him a call and he came on over in the fire truck. Meanwhile everybody seems to be fascinated with the hole in my hand and the fact that a fire truck was on its way.

The fire truck showed up and they checked out my hand and put some gauze and real medical stuff on it. They also gave me the delightful news that it would need stitches. Mmmm, goody. So I said goodbye, hopped into the fire truck, and off we went to stitch me up. We went to the urgent care building. Now, I'm not sure if you've ever been to the urgent care building, but the word "Urgent" is massively underplayed. You get there, needing urgent attention, and sit there for 4 hours until they can fix you. I have discovered a way around that inconvinience. All you have to do is show up in a firetruck, triple park in front of the building, partially blocking traffic, and walk into the building flanked by three firemen with their radios and badges on. Yep, no waiting there. I was into the stitches room in about 2 minutes. Keep in mind, this is halloween so
all the nurses were dressed as witches and stuff. That's not really an important part of the story, but it helps set the scene I guess.

So, the stitches room. The doctor took the gauze off of my hand and poked around a bit, deducing that I needed stitches. He had to numb the wound first, and that involved a WAY TOO SMALL drop of topical pain-killer and TEN pain-killing shots INTO the hand-hole. OMG, that hurt more than the actual injury (which didn't hurt at all because it was soooooo cold out). Ten shots later I was ready to just stand up and walk out, but no, now I needed the stitches. Luckily I didn't feel it because he had given me so many shots that my entire right arm was numb. He wrapped my hand in about a mile of gauze and topped it off with a spider man sticker. My hand looked like the tip of a giant q-tip. All stitched up and ready to go, we left the urgent care building and headed back to the football game. We got there just as the band was getting ready for half-time, so I figured "Hey! Why not be incredibly hard-core and march the show?" I wouldn't be able to play or wear the BLACK GLOVE on my right hand, but oh well! So, I marched the show with a giant right gauze hand only 3 hours after slicing my hand wide open, getting a ride from a fire truck, getting stitches, and coming back. Not bad! And, the marching show went really well, so all in all I'd say it was an exciting night. This is the worst of all three injuries sustained during marching band, and to make it even more horrific. . . I never got spaghetti.

March 01, 2006

Marching Band Injury Anthology: PART II

This particular experience occurred during the 2005 season of marching band this last year, so it is fairly fresh in my mind. Here's the setting: The 25 woodwind players are in a giant arc at a baseball diamond. The director is working with the flutes and the rest of us are quietly keeping ourselves occupied. [Action!]

Well, it's been 10 minutes since we've played and we're starting to get bored. The clarinet players and I have already done the wave with our shoulders and clarinets, so now we're just kidna standing there trying not to fall asleep. I discover that my reed is broken, opening up another opportunity to keep myself entertained. I take it off my mouthpiece and start to chew on it. At first I'm just trying to break the thin tip, but once that was accomplished I decided to tackle the thick cane part at the end. Bad. I was chewing as hard as I could to try to break it and during one fairly intense chew (with my section eyeing me intently to see what I was doing) the reed snapped in half. That's the good news, the bad news is that when it snapped in half it shot out the side of my mouth. . . with my mouth closed. That means that in order for the reed to leave my mouth it had to pass through my face.

Open your mouth, right now, do it. Now with your finger, feel that web on the corner of your mouth that connects your upper lip and lower lip? Imagine a sharp reed travelling VERY quickly, slicing right through that. Webbing gone. I felt the warm blood in my mouth so I spit on the ground to see how bad it was. That was a lot of blood. Cue section laughter.

I quickly lef the arc and said "Dylan (drum major)! A little help please?" I went over to a hill near the arc and knelt down, spitting blood so as not to swallow it. Dylan came up and said "Yes?" (sees blood) "Oh My Gosh! What did you do?" I say "Can you go get me *spit* a paper towel please? *spit*" He runs off as fast as he can. We're talkin' back in 45 seconds after running a REALLY long ways fast. He was scared for me I guess, i was just perplexed. There was blood all over my shirt and all over the ground but I couldn't actually feel my face because of the endorphines. I knew I was cut but didn't know where. He brought me paper towels and then I put them on my face and walked to the bathroom. That was when I saw the lack of web. Bad.

I realized quickly that it was gonna just keep bleeding forever because it was soft tissue, and that I would have to hold a paper towel to my face until it clotted. I went back to the field where everybody was trying to figure out what had happened to me. I couldn't tell them without re-opening the wound, so I just had my section-ites tell the story and then everybody laughed at me. Long story shorter, I marched the rest of the practice with a paper towel shoved to my face and a bloody white shirt on, and I have pictures of it too, but they're not digital and I'd need to scan them in. I'll get to that eventually. Until then, just heed reeds and them breaking in your mouth. I couldn't talk for about a week until it healed, and now there's a scar there and it feels really weird. Lovely. The end!

Marching Band Injury Anthology: PART I

Throughout the years I have injured myself in various ways in Marching Band. This series of three events are not in chronological order, but are simply in the order of whenever I felt like typing each one. The following story was written for Honors English last year so I will just copy and paste it in its original form into this blog. Enjoy my failure please.

A 7 Second Breakdown
In a figurative and literal fashion
Every year the Sprague Olympian Marching Band spends hours rehearsing, marching,playing, and fund-raising. Months of preparation, practice, competitions, and dedication culminate in the annual Oregon Festival of Bands Championship. The routine was flawless, the steps and music committed to memory, and the band had taken first place in preliminary competition. The time had come for finals competition. The band marched out of the tunnel into Autzen Stadium to thunderous applause. The drums started a groove and the show began. Feet flew, players blew, and everybody knew this was going to be the best show ever played by our band. Just as our work was about to pay off, seven seconds of utter chaos jeopardized our chances of a flawless show. This is the story of my thoughts, thought by thought and second by second, as a series of unfortunate events unfolded before my very eyes. The running timer is recording the time up to and starting at the beginning of the incident. -
04:00 minutes into the show
It is two minutes before the end of the show. The clarinet section is stopped at a halt and has just finished playing a phrase of music. We are mentally preparing to make our next move. In one half a second we will be moving to the right twenty yards, in only 12 steps. Right in front of us is a judge, so we need to march perfectly, no mistakes. Unfortunately I wont make it. -
00:50 seconds
The clarinet line is almost to their spot, where we will have to do a quick turn backwards and march to our next set. When marching along the length of the field, it is proper technique to face forward with the upper body and march sideways with the lower body. Unfortunately, this technique enabled me to see a flash of silver just one half-second before it would be too late. It is at this exact moment my peripheral vision catches one player who has jerked backwards from his spot, and that I, the next clarinet player in line, witness a glint of silver just out of the corner of my eye. I have no time to react. My mind thinks, Weird!
01:00 second
My upper body has stopped moving in the direction I want it to go. Instead, my head hascome into contact with what at first appears to be a big pole. My mind thinks, This is not part of the routine I have practiced, nor did it happen 5 hours ago in preliminary competition, so what is going on?
01:20 seconds
My movement is now redirected toward where my upper body was facing, toward thesideline. I am falling down, off the field, but can see a large metal pole falling right in front of me. My mind thinks, All right, I ran into a pole. That explains the silver flash, and the person to my right jerking back. He must have been avoiding the pole. Why is there a pole here? Will it get hurt falling? What is it? Im falling.
02:10 seconds
It is at this point my mouth and ability to speak catch up with my minds thought process.As the case may be, my voice sounded the first thing it could under the circumstances, while my mind was busy thinking things through. Oh Shit! My mind thinks, This is a microphone stand, I can see the little black microphone on the end. I really hope it doesnt break. Its falling awfully close to our percussionist, I hope it doesnt hit him. The ground is getting closer, I should try not to fall.
02:75 seconds
My mind thinks, Uh oh, I just swore very loudly as I was falling onto a giantmicrophone. I never swear! Why did I swear into a giant microphone? Im falling.
03:03 seconds
My attempt at avoiding falling has failed. I cant stop myself from falling and am a merefoot away from contacting the soft green turf. The microphone pole has just hit the turf. It missed our percussionist. My mind thinks, I hope my uniform doesnt rip when I hit the ground. Im going to fall on this pole, I hope I dont hurt it. I hate this stupid pole! Oops, Im losing my grip on my clarinet. Im going to drop it. I hope it doesnt get hurt.
03:50 seconds
I hit the ground. My mind thinks, My clarinet is gone, I need to pick it up. I cant see! My shako is covering my eyes! This ground is squishy. I hope I can get back into my spot. This is going to really screw up our score!
04:60 seconds
I have fixed my shako and grabbed my clarinet. I am now on my knees. My mind thinks,Where are we in the show? Where are we in the music? Where do I need to get to? I need to get about 10 steps behind where I am, and I have about half of the normal time to get there.
05:60 seconds
I am now standing and have lifted my clarinet to my mouth. My left foot has movedback twice as far as it normally has to, in order make my next set. My mind thinks, Will I get there in time? How bad was the fall? There is the microphone laying on the ground. I cant believe I ran into it so hard! Holy crap, the judge is standing right in front of me. He saw the whole thing!
07:00 seconds
I have made it to my spot. I am ready to march to my next spot, and have recovered. The entire incident, from start to finish took 7 seconds. My mind did more thinking thanit ever has at one time, my mouth did more swearing than it has ever done at one time, and I fell more than I have ever fallen in 2 years of marching. Unfortunately, I was thinking during a period of time that should be completely committed to memory, swore for the first time in public while 2 feet away from a microphone and in front of several thousand people, and fell during finals of the Oregon Festival of Bands Championship. Later, I found out the pole had hit another player and sliced his lip open. That is one of only two things preserving the memory of this 7-second moment of chaos. Sean Managhans blood has been spilt on the 40 yard line in Autzen Stadium and on every DVD sold of the performance a subtle but distinct Oh Shit can be heard over the crashing of a microphone stand, during Sprague High Schools first place finals performance.