Normal Post

Just because I know I have to throw it in, I’m going to Stanford.

Moving on, I’ve re-developed my obsession for You Don’t Know Jack. Back in the day, Jellyvision made a video game of full length trivia games. Well, apparently it wasn’t profitable enough to keep up, so they took a break, and have recently been working on daily installments of their great game. If you love trivia with a little off-beat humor to keep it fresh, I absolutely recommend you play some of their DisorDats and full games. Great fun to be had.

Everyone take the opportunity to congratulate Frank and David on an outstanding job at UIL academics districts. They did 5 events, and managed to 1-2 each of them, and of course advancing the team to region. Unfortunately for them, UIL teams take 3 scores, so for 4 events, they’re depending on me (or Farhad for CS) to get the teams to state. Personally, I think that’s pretty awesome, having the weakest person being in control.
‘Member kids: it doesn’t matter how good you are, as long as you hang out with the right crowd 😉

So I’ve realized over the past week that even for guys, shopping is fun. No, I’m not necessarily talking about going to the mall and looking at clothes; even so, I’ve found myself quite engrossed in finding a suitable laptop. With the C-word coming up, I’m going to need one, and I, being a methodological person, am scrounging ads and websites, throwing info into a spreadsheet. Surprisingly time-consuming, actually. Now, while doing it, I defended it as purely financial interest; I want to get the best laptop I can for the cheapest I can. That makes sense. What threw me off, however, was that I was putting off writing a scholarship essay due the next day to do research.
I would rather look at laptop specs and such to save, mebbe, $500 instead of writing a scholarship essay worth twice that.
Go rational self-interest. On the plus side, I’m feeling quite enlightened right now.

And so life changes

It’s amazing how you can be so set on something, and have thought you thought out everything, but have that change in an instant.

University of Texas at Austin: Accept. Turing Scholars: Accept. Dean’s Scholar: Accept.
Carnegie Mellon University: Accept.
Harvard College: Reject.
Brown University: Accept.
Stanford University: Accept.
I was so freaking sure that I would end up at UT, but seeing that, it makes me think.
At UT, I could be in an amazing honors college as one of a group of less than 30 for my class. I’d be able to do undergraduate research through it and still get the full college experience. I could enjoy the size, but also be with many of my friends and get the “small feel” in the honors college. AP scores get me out of just about every stupid class, and I could still graduate early and go to some great graduate school. I’d live with my sister in a (relatively) spacious apartment and be a couple hours for home if something crazy crazy happened. Even so, Austin is apparently different enough from the rest of Texas that I wouldn’t dread staying here. And all, basically, for free.
At Stanford, I could go to the top Computer Science undergraduate program in the country in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’d only have to graduate to have job offers from some of the biggest technology companies. I’d only have to walk over to the next room or turn my head while walking around to see a genius. I could walk down the hallway and greet a fellow undergrad – who happens to be an Olympian. Everything would be insanely difficult (that’s what I want), and there would always be someone better than me to make me want to be that much better. My professors would be world famous as some of the greatest in their fields, and I would literally get to meet and learn from legends. It’s Stanford.
An hour ago, I was sure I was going to go to UT. Would I be a fool to turn down Stanford?

(I was going to have a real blog post, but this came up. I’ll get a real one soon.)

The Break is… broken

Of course, break is over, and it was back to school today. Which was an extremely dissatisfying feeling.
The pattern for breaks is quite amazing: the week before, we’re ridiculously anxious for it, making it a really painful week. The week of, we kick back and have a blast. We’re supposed to use it to gather ourselves and rejuvenate for the rest of school. The first day back, however, just ends up sucking, because you don’t want to come back. It actually sucks just as much as that previous week. It’s like sleeping in, only to suffer the day after because you couldn’t get to sleep the night after sleeping in.
I, for one, am in quite a quandary. What you just read is more a comment than an expression of my own feelings. If I look unhappy, then you know something is seriously wrong, and for me, getting back to school was just kind of “blah”.
Simultaneously, I think I’ve caught the college bug. This past Saturday, I went up to Rice for a play with some family friends. Not sure if it was just looking around me, or if it was the crazy St. Pat’s party going on not so far away from where we were, but I’m starting to feel that “get the heck out of high school” thing.
At the same time, high school stuff is picking up as we run towards the end of the year – most particularly, APs and UIL. And for those, I doubt I’m going to find myself too ready. Kind of wish I had more time for those.
The funny part is, this all makes sense in my head. Thank goodness for doublethink.

Life Back to Normal

So we had the Texas State Academic Decathlon competition this past weekend, and it was quite a success. We ended up 3rd in the large school division, and 4th overall, netting each one of us a nice little batch of scholarship money. Hans wiped the floor on the objective tests, but only ended up 3rd in varsity because of the awesome job done by our subjective graders. Frank, on the otherhand, pretty much dominated everyone the entire time, and got 1st place honors by a good 700 pts. Congratulate him if you see the chance.
Getting that done with was quite a relief. It’s an interesting feeling to just go through the climax of your entire school year, to go in and take a series of tests to tell you how hard you’ve been studying for more than 1/2 of a year. Some good, some bad, of course. I’ve developed immensely from having gone through with this, but I am a little disappointed from how things panned out officially, and a little frustrated with USAD right now on their means to ensure fairness on subjectives. Regardless, I can now move on and value what I’ve gained.

Talking about moving on, it’s quite liberating to have one constant worry off your mind. I knew it was coming, and always told myself, “You know you should take these 5 minutes to study, because those 5 minutes might get you one more fact to get one more question right to win you another $500 in scholarships.” AD is just one of those perpetual things, where you can never be too ready, and when you care, it can definitely ruin a person. I appear to be in one piece, however, and can now spend the time on other important stuff.
Like exercise. I went running for the first time today, and it felt good. That was my one resolution on the year, and it’s definitely something that needs to happen. Thanks to wiki howto, I have a rough layout of what I need to do, and plan on running at least 3 times a week. Hopefully I’ll manage to stick to that one.
And reading. I had bought “Society of Mind” by Marvin Minsky over the winter break, and never got around to reading it. It’s a brilliant series of mind experiments where Minsky explains how the mind works, how unthinking parts can form thoughts. It’s a much better night-time read than Climatology, and I highly recommend it to just about ‘neone, especially those with even an outside interest in psychology.
And tuba. Haven’t practiced since the day of S&E, and so I got around to jumping back on the horn yesterday. Unfortunately, I guess I wasn’t ready for it. Did my full range lip slurs, and must’ve busted my chops doing it, because I could feel some muscle in my upper-lip tighten, and just couldn’t play quite the same. Gotta build that back up again.
And UIL. No sooner do my AD coaches let me off on AD before they pick up UIL. Off-chance I might also do Calculator this year. It’s easily the most retarded thing I’ve ever done in my life (even more than reading 7 packets over and over again), but it’s one more chance to make a trip to state.
And my story blog. Gimme a week to develop characters and plot and such, and I’ll post again. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to it, with AD out of the way. A blueprint will really speed it along.
And my friends. Holy crap, it’s crazy how much I’ve just ignored my friends to study. Had a crazy party Saturday night to blow steam and see a couple kids I really haven’t in awhile, and that was great. Go me, putting a competition ahead of people.

Catching up

Played a concert tonight for band. It’s a little surprising to me how tiring it is to play well.
I’ve always prided myself on my endurance on tuba. I ‘member freshmen year, summer band on trumpet, and for 2-3 days, I was pretty sure my lips were going to fall off, we were playing so much. Compared to that, tuba is a breeze. My lips have never hurt (much) near as much as I ‘member, and I always felt like I could play another tune.
Only over this past school year have a really gotten into what I’m doing, though. Not to say that I was a bad musician before (I think), or that I’m a great one now, but actually playing music and doing all the other stuff to make it music is tiring. Music is pretty exhaustive. Not quite so easy when done right.

So my mom went to an interview with my sister in Georgia this past weekend, and I got left home alone. The last time this happened, when she went to Hawaii, it kind of sucked, since I couldn’t drive. If I wanted to do ‘nething, I had to bum a ride from someone. Kind of a pain for them and me. But not, so this time.
I never thought that I’d really enjoy driving. Practically, it a useful thing, to be able to go places on my own. It isn’t particularly exciting, and takes an awful lot of concentration. I derived quite some satisfaction from driving around this weekend, however. There’s something really cool about being “in control” to go where I need to be on my own. Not having to wait around for a ride, and instead just popping the keys out of the pocket and getting in the vehicle. That’s a pretty cool feeling.

Dear Diary…

No, I don’t keep a “diary”.
“Journal” sounds more manly, I think.
I’ve recently turned back to writing in my journal. From what I recollect, I had stopped writing it in consistently when I jumped over into writing this blog. I figured that a lot of the same stuff crossed over, so might as well not waste my time doing both.
It’s been healthy for me to return to it. I think it must have been in the worthless textbook for Health Education that I read that it’s healthy to keep some sort of journal. While not actually tangible, I’ve felt better the past couple days for doing it.
I definitely do write about different things in it. Way back in the day, there wasn’t much of a difference, since it was mostly just recollections of the day’s event, which works fine for either medium, but I’ve since then moved past that, in both. I’m not really sure what I write about in my blog. My policy is kind of outlined in this post, though in my head, there’s a lot of stuff running about that you probably neither care about, nor do I want you to know about (in the most innocent sense).
It’s been a nice release, and I’ve had a couple realizations from writing in my journal again. There’s something about having to force ideas into exact words that gets the brain working at solving things, I guess (if no one’s done research on that one in a couple years, mebbe I’ll get around to it). Or mebbe it’s seeing the words in front of me that helps. In any case, I’ve enjoyed it.
I rarely make requests of my audiences, though I recommend that you write in a journal if you don’t regularly. I can usually find time write before I go to sleep to do it. Write whatever comes to mind, because if you’re ‘nething like me, the “big questions” and “issues” are what you think about at night, instead of the little crap like school and such during the day. Mebbe it’ll work out for you too.

AD

So we had our regional contest this past weekend, and Taylor did an amazing job. We got lots of individual medals, and came away with 1st in region and 1st in superquiz after a pretty amazing bout on the relay. We did well.
Unfortunately, that’s just one step. I normally try to avoid this, but I’ve found myself anxiously awaiting the scores from other schools. In my head, I know that the idealistic view would be to ignore them, because even though this is a competition, seeing their scores doesn’t change anything, because in any case, the team should be studying as hard as it can. Simpler said than done, of course.
I find myself in a bit of an awkward spot right now, because early in the season, I was extremely pessimistic. Now, we’re in great shape, and if no one pulls on emergency brakes, our lead foot is keeping us floored. It’s just a bit shocking to me to think that we’re where we are. I had always thought that this level of competition required students who had dedicated their lives solely to AD, studying like crazy and sleeping with a book under and on top of their pillow. While that now seems exaggerated, I am confused at exactly what it takes.
On a completely unrelated note, my old “Gillette” deodorant ran out. I’m on “Right Guard” now (in the off-chance you care, I have no brand loyalty in deodorants. It’s all about what’s on sale).
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with me and AD right now, actually. Now that I think about it, things haven’t quite been the same since marching season ended. When it was going on, there was a lot of complaining going on, in my head if nowhere else. I told myself that after marching season finished, it would be game over. But then I was just kind of cooked. Thanksgiving came around and that was just filled with random stuff. That lead into December, where the end of the semester kind of held me off really committing, then the trip to China had its own distractions. Since I’ve gotten back to school, I’m definitely not where I should be.
I’ve heard it before, and Scott mentioned it again this weekend, but really, I seem to be more productive when time is tight. At first glance, it doesn’t make sense; I should be able to do more with more time, right? What’s really weird is that after a day like today, I look back, and I think myself productive; other than a 1/2 hr stopover in video game-land, I didn’t really not use my time. Yet in the end, it feels like I did less than I would have on a day where I got home from marching band at 630.
Apparently I’m not the only one, as I mentioned that others had related similar circumstance, but looking back at today, I’m guessing that the lost 2 hrs were on just stuff. Going between doing this and that, I might spend 10 min cleaning my room, or checking facebook, or surfing the web, or something. And I guess it adds up. Good job me, and thwarting my own attempts at productivity.

Public vow: I’m depending on everyone of you to hold me to this; AD must consume me.
Mostly. Gotta check on a vector.

Stuff

Because I know some of you are extremely curious, I got deferred from Harvard.

So I’m wondering why more kids aren’t scarred young. Think about it.
1) Parents tell their kids that Santa exists and brings presents.
2) Santa’s elves make all of the toys.
3) Santa brings toys, like Legos, video games, whatever is cool in Barbies, etc.
4) Many of these are owned by large, prominent countries.
5) There are nasty branding laws against passing off facsimiles of such products.
Now, I think kids usually find the hole in the first premise: that our parents are dirty liars, and when we grow up, we have to do the same thing. I don’t know how cruel your parents were, either, but apparently it happens that parents have face-to-face serious talks about things like this, often resulting crying. Fortunately, my parents just kind of let my sisters and me figure things out for ourselves.
But what would happen if kids faithfully trusted in their parents? Well, then we have a problem. Yes, Santa is the biggest criminal mastermind in the world. Not only does he break into people’s houses, the speed limit (of physics), and steal sustenance for his own eating problems, he’s also running an illegal factory in a secret hide-out, heading the production of massive quantities of goods. Society would have added to a religious holiday a dangerous precedent, where we openly defy the fundamentals of a properly working economy.
Fortunately, economics and government are taught senior year. So sorry for the kid who doesn’t figure Santa out before then.

Leaving for China and Singapore in 4-5 days, I think. Sounds like fun. Tell me if you want something.

Priorities

Humans are incredibly short-sighted creatures.
For example, Region Band Auditions are Saturday. I’m extremely set on doing extremely well. Yet, instead of taking the time to walk over to my backpack and pull out my mouthpiece to at least buzz along with the recording, I’ve spent the past hour doing, effectively, nothing of note. Not necessarily of no value or consequence, but still…
We have things we consider extremely important to us, yet I don’t think I’ve ever completely hit that one-minded focus that has allowed me to shirk all other concerns to focus on that goal. And I think that’s the consequence of the wonderful idea of “good enough”.
Assuming you’re one of my close peers, then the perfect example is college apps. College is important. For me, at least. Yes, I can say that no matter where I go, I will leave there saying that that was the best experience I could have possibly had, and that I absolutely made the right choice. Regardless of my own rationalizations though, I want to make the best choice now, and I have more choices the more places I’m accepted. Even so, I’ve been vaguely on top of the work for it. Like everyone else, I’m getting held up on the essays, and right now, I only have one left to truly get “into shape”. But instead of getting that done, and getting it into perfect shape, I’m writing in my blog about it. For all I know, my opportunity cost for writing this blog entry might be 4 years at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
So if you haven’t figured this out, this is basically just a much too complicated analysis of procrastination. I just find it really odd that within our big priorities, we have second-to-second priorities, where cheap, short, momentary impulses take control. And of course, being “far-sighted” is often seen as a good trait. Keep your eye on the long-run. Put the work in now, not later.
Procrastination.
Overcome that.

On a less abstract note, I’m really happy that I made the AD team. I’ve come to realize how incredibly difficult it is to give AD everything, though. AD isn’t one of those “good enough” events. More is always better, yet that often feels like such an unattainable, lofty goal. Diminishing returns hurts. You can’t achieve perfection, or even a stopping point in AD. It’s a limit, approached from the left.
Up until now, my justification has been marching band, which I think is fair. Then we had Thanksgiving Break, when I managed to keep myself busy with a variety stuff. Last week up to districts, school was quite time-consuming, and due dates on college stuff were coming up. This week, I have region band. Next week, who knows?
And I know that after AD is done, I’ll look back, and wish I had done more.
Darn me.

Sorry for the Delay

I actually really don’t have an excuse. Thanks for giving me a break though.
(haha?)
I’m not really sure what to write about. Which is why I’ve probably been delayed. Welcome to a medley of thoughts.

If you haven’t seen the footage of Sam McGuffie, then you must. Search YouTube (accidental plug) for him. That first one with the hurdle is quite famous. The three against us aren’t as, but they were darn incredible in real life. The video with the cut doesn’t really do him justice. The last move against the defender in the corner was a lot better in real life. And if you missed that game, you seriously missed out. I don’t feel it’s proper for me to comment on my attitude towards the outcome of the game, but McGuffie definitely made it worth it. And I’ll miss band.

So break is cool. I’ve managed to keep myself relatively busy, but in a really good way. Instead of tagging the timecard at James E. Taylor High School from 700 AM to 330 PM everyday, I get to sleep-in. And it feels really good. I know I don’t have it as bad as others, but for the past couple weeks, I’ve been having to get up for something everyday, so letting my biological clock take over has been most therapeutic. Unfortunately, come Monday morning, I’ll forget all about the wonderful rest and groan just as much as I did.

A lot of my companions have groaned a lot about college apps and such recently, and it seems well-founded. I hate the idea of my life being dependent on a series of text areas and 2-3 text boxes, but it’s necessary. Besides, knowing me, whatever I do, I’ll rationalize it ten years down the road as the best possible decision I could have made. Regardless, I’m having fun with these. Not in the “I’m going to write these in crayon because affirmative action says you have to take me, bitch” sense, but the opportunity to write a nice, creative essay feels great. I can write a personal, casual piece, instead of working out implicit differentiations on natural logs or formal, structured critical analyses (what’s the plural there? FF spell-checker isn’t helping me) on novels. While painful, I’d like to think that I’ve gained valuable insight into myself by trying to put my motivations and ideas into words. True, I’ve procrastinated like crazy to avoid doing these, but it’s happening, and I don’t mind.
What is pretty cool about apps though is summarizing life goals in 2-3 lines for scholarships. Go Texas. Thank you for reinforcing my view of you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. (that is proper adjective-holiday agreement, right)
And good pickings on Black Friday.