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.)

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.

My Life

This entry is dedicated to my life.
So band is going to be all inclusive for the next 3 weeks (even moreso than normal), with some event on every day (well, 2 of those are TBD) except sundays. Fun, right?
It’s crazy how contradictory this comes off, because if you talk to band kids right now, about all we do is b*tch and moan about how busy we are, the shape we’re in, the changes being made, the excercises we’re doing, etc. But at least for me, I’m enjoying this way more than I realize (now there’s a paradox, having written that).
I’ve been working on college stuff for a fair portion of today, and one diversion involved looking at their marching bands. You would not believe how disappointed I am that the only school with a real marching band that I’m applying to is my safety school. Yes. The cool, big-name, out-of-state schools I’m applying to have, in my opinion, the lame, watered-down, idiotic version of marching band. The so-called “scatter bands”. In essence, a bunch of kids run out on the field randomly into some crude formation, play some, mebbe scramble over to another, play some, and they’re done.
I’m not quire sure what it is about marching band. I’ll admit as much as anybody in the stands, our formations look a lot like nothing. Curves, lines, diagonals, grids, it’s all really hard to figure. And for what ppl notice, there is way too much work in it. But it’s art. You take the athleticism of sports, the elegance of music, and the abstraction of visual arts, and you get one insanely awesome event. It surprises me minorly that the elite colleges don’t recognize it as such, but I’m not really in a position to criticize. The fans love the scatter bands, some (I’m guessing enough) performers love it, and they just kind of go with it.
What a letdown. What hurts even more is knowing that right now, I don’t appreciate how much fun I’m having. In about 3 weeks, my last marching season will be over, and there’s a fairly good chance that I won’t march again. No more practices, or games, or performances. Of course it’ll happen way too fast. I’m sure I’ll be much to concerned about this set here, or that bad curve there, or the ratings from the judges to enjoy it.
Forest or the trees?

Great Expectations

I was writing one of my college essays when I started thinking about how we live our lives. It always seems like we’re waiting for something to happen, looking forward to the next big event. During marching rehearsal, I’m looking forward to it being over, and while typing up college apps, I’m dying to get out of high school. We anticipate things, and when they happen, at least for me, things are kind of anti-climactic. “Thank goodness rehearsal is over”, I might hear, but what does that mean? Yeah, sure, rehearsal might not be a lot of fun at times, but clearly, we’re making a conscious decision to stay up band, suggesting that at some level we want to be out of that practice field in the heat. Or perhaps we’re just anticipating the fun we’ll have later, at the game.
Perhaps I do mean this in the “seize the day” sense. When you get to that moment, that time that you had been anticipating all that time, is it really that great that it was worth the time you spent thinking about it? By thinking about that, and not the present, we lose focus on what brilliant things are all around, and what we are doing at that time. Live in the present, for the future will never come, and if you’re going to enjoy life, live it.
Yet, in a sense, that sounds so short-sighted. If we live for the momentary enjoyment, we never think about the future and might be sacrificing the present of the future to appease ourselves now. As humans, our goal should be to better ourselves and others.
This duality may not make a whole lot of sense. So, we need to embrace the moment, yet keep our eyes on the future? Well, in my life, the most salient example right now is AD. I’m sure you’ve heard about how much work it is, and honestly, it’s all that, and more. True, perhaps I haven’t embraced the philosophy above entirely, but it is what I’m shooting for. I have to ignore the competitions, the possibility of Hawaii, or all such other things. I can’t anticipate those moments, because when they come, I will have wasted the time beforehand, too absorbed with what could be. Instead, I have to focus on the moment. Now. Studying may not be a party, but I’ve accepted that. As I like to say, “Everything that happens happens for the best, if you make it that way”.
I could plug in another couple hours to CS or some other diversion, but I have to keep an eye on the future. Everything we do is progress towards later, and the more we do, the more later is. So, why not work harder? And why not enjoy it?
My (relatively) new AD motto: Ignore the predictions, ignore Hawaii. Study more. It can’t hurt.
(And I’m sure that was all extremely incoherent and meaningless because I’m really tired, but meh. At least I enjoyed it.)

UT Honors Colloquium

I kinda hate doing these “here’s what happened in my life” entries, but it’s kinda necessary.
So Thursday morning, I pop into the Band Hall so I can pick my locker and instrument, make sure Chris has things in order, etc. All goes well. My mom comes to pick me up, and her, my cousin Cheryl, Willie, and I go up to Austin. We promptly arrive as Jester, where we are assigned to our room. Now, Jester is apparently known for not being the highest quality dorm. Fortunately, I had planned ahead of time: the trick to satisfaction is low expectations. The rooms were pretty spartan (since it’s pretty much up to the students to make it otherwise), there was a perpetual odor, the walls didn’t really block sound, and the bathes weren’t much either. Not bad.
Bobby met Willie and me to wander around campus, since we had 1-2 hrs until our first event. We went into the McCombs School of Business, almost got into the texas history museum, and almost got into the stadium, but avoided all trouble. We got around to the PAC for our first event, which ended up being a bust. Bobby went back to the dorm to play pokemon, while Willie and I checked out another local museum, which had a giant skeleton of a flying dinosaur hanging in the lobby. We looked at some of the other fossils around, then went back just in time for the speaker at the PAC. Some accounting professor, he gave an interesting speech where he recounted some experiments. It was actually fairly interesting, at least for me, since it kind of tied over into a bit of psychology and game theory, two of my academic interests, and he managed to present it in an entertaining manner. In the end, he tied it back to the college experience in a really bad way, but I guess that was part of the deal with getting the opportunity to speak.
After that, we had a “cohort meeting”, an event to dread, followed by lunch at the dining hall in Jester, which managed to be pretty terrible. It was a buffet, but I can’t see why someone would want more than one serving of that food. College food is definitely going to be interesting. I can live on ramen, but I can’t live on that crap. I guess I have my solution.
Later that evening, we were supposed to go to the honors quad for games and such, but it sounded really boring so Bobby, Willie, and I wandered around campus some more, dropping into the tower, the ee building, among other places. Willie got some pictures that night, and if you want to see them, he has them on his facebook. After staying up late playing Pig and Spoons with some of the other taylor kids, I took a shower, which wasn’t that bad. Apparently no one else on my floor thought much of hygiene, since neither willie nor I saw ‘neone else taking a shower during the time we did. Regardless, it wasn’t bad, except that the water was never warm, alternating between scalding and cold every 10 s or so. That was irritating, though I don’t think the idea of a communal toilet and shower bothered me as much as I thought it would.
I woke up severely sleep deprived to another jester meal. Wonderful way to start the day, eh? I went to my first class, which was something to do with classics and philosophy. Chatted with Erica for a bit, who happened to be in the same room. The class itself was less than thrilling. We analyzed a scene from Sophocles’ “Antigone”, where Haemon challenges the rule of Creon. Very interesting topic, but he really didn’t get into much depth with it, which I found very disappointing. I’ll arrogantly say he didn’t say ‘nething that I couldn’t have figured out. Well, in truth, he provided the information that led me to my conclusions (such as, “In greek culture, the only beings that could see the future were the gods.”), but that I can get from a book.
The second class was a panel discussion, where various professors spoke of the future of science. The first person talked about global warming (surprise, surprise), and didn’t say a whole lot of ‘nething. The second was a physicist who talked about something that, at the moment, was interesting, but I have since forgotten. The third was involved in something about biochemistry or something, and his talk was of vague interest, with seemingly optimistic ideas. The fourth was an engineer, who was much more entertaining than ‘ne other, but with about the same amount of content. After that, they did a panel discussion, which wasn’t so exciting either, making the entire class pretty worthless.
I went to the engineering lunch at the Texas Union, which was easily the best meal I had all trip, since it was an actual catered event and not some trash at a dining hall. And I now am resolved not to do engineering. After talking to the staff advisor at our table (“our” being me, max, royce, and some random ppl), I figured I really didn’t care a whole lot about what they do. The food was still good, though.
My third class was one in algorithm analysis, which managed to be the greatest disappointment. The class was taught assuming we knew nothing about CS, which meant we only managed to analyze up till about mergesort. She went extremely slowly, and it just wasn’t a lot of fun. On the upside, at least I know that CS is the type of stuff I want to be doing.
The fourth class was pretty incredible. It was called “Artificial Intelligence in Physics”, and he explained how he used LISP in AI. It was pretty brilliant stuff, and apparently is currently working on making programs capable of doing well on AP tests (a program already got a 3 on Chem). He even has the physics solver online at http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/novak/ , so that should help a lot in Physics 2. It accepts plain english questions (though I would assume that the language and structure is somewhat limited), and another one allows you to graphically connect various elements into a giant solver. Wondeful stuff, very interesting.
That evening, I got another fill of Jester crap, then, instead of doing whatever we were supposed to in Gregory gym, played ultimate with about 20 ppl in the street. Although my knees hurt like heck afterwards (and still do now, a little), it was a lot of fun. After that, Willie and I wandered a bit more to snap a few more pics, then went back to the dorm and talked to erica, max, mariel, and michelle before our evening cohort meeting, after which we conked out.
On the final day, we got to take small group tours, and being on top of things, I signed up early and got a shot to go to the nuclear reactor at UT. I thought it was pretty nifty, though honestly, there were probably ppl who could’ve appreciated it more than me. They have a lot of really nifty research going on there, and it was capped off with a “blue flash” at the end, which was the result of them pulling a control rod out really fast, allowing a bunch of radiation out or something. Either that, or they bs-ed us and had a bright light hidden at the bottom of the reactor.
And after that, we had lunch and went home. Good trip, learned a lot about the college experience. Right now, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go to UT, though I know that if I did, I would make the most of it and come to appreciate it. I figure that the size of the college really won’t bother me. UT is humongous, but honestly, after walking around with willie and bobby, it isn’t as big as the map makes it look. It’s about a 10-15 min walk across campus, and I’d find my niche within it. A lot of small colleges are really cool too, since those are usually picturesque, green pretty colleges. College life will be nice, even if the food might suck. And I know I don’t want to do engineering, and I really want to do computer science. Perhaps more of my realizations will come later, but I’m done with this entry.

A Couple Ways to Shake Up Life

Just finished watching “House”. Dang, that show is incredible. So addicted.
So yesterday, there was an MIT dealie over at Clear Brook, so my mom carpools david n and his mom, mo, and michelle m. over there. About all I can say is… is that it was really random. Somewhere from a 45-60 min drive, it reminded me a lot of the UIL state trip: very random, with lots of DNev stories and comments (“All I know is that if you take the first 2 letters and the last 2, you get jedi!”). So while the car ride was fun, the actual dealie was quite boring. Other than getting a free pen, I spent about 1 1/4 hrs listening to a particularly uninspiring speaker who managed to kill what would seem like a very interesting school. She didn’t seem to know a lot about the specifics, as though she weren’t well acquainted with the school. Oh, and I got to suffer through endless, idiotic questions from other audience members that wasted more time. The only entertainment I got was watching DNev fall asleep 4 times.
So this weekend was particularly interesting. Mr Hoyle approached me on thurs to play at his church for some dealie, and excited at the prospect of my first “gig”, I went. Well, sightreading was about as interesting as I expected, a lot of missed key signatures, blah blah. Saw Robert Plummer there, though seeing as I really didn’t know him in the first place, didn’t really talk to him. On the otherhand, the trumpet and trombone players were very interesting to talk to. Both are middle aged guys, and it happened I needed a ride back to Katy, so seeing as they seemed like nice guys, I bit. Well, imagine a really cool, smooth, 2000 type of guy; that wasn’t either of them. The trumpet player, Rush, is probably the dorkiest guy I’ve met, capable of corny jokes past even mine and very talkative (I later learned he was trained as an attourney). The trombone player, Neil, was a bit better, I guess the comparable straight man(to Rush being the Comic) in the duo. Well, in the end, I ended up going out for starbucks at 9 with them saturday night. Apparently they were impressed with my playing and me personally. So now I have two more adult friends, and a good connection to get more playing opportunities. Apparently they play almost every sunday over at kingsland baptist, so if they ever need a tuba player…
I finished watching all 7 seasons of Star Trek: DS9 this weekend. Took me some…3 months. Calcuated it to be approximately 1 week of continuous watching(this is in my head of course, out of number sense season). That’s a lot of star trek, though well worth it.
So HC is this weekend, and for one year, I stick true to my nerdy roots and decided not to go. Go me.
Everyone going seems excited about it; I guess by now, either you’ve gone and know it sucks, or you’ve gone and enjoyed it, making you excited. I fall into the former category, which I feel, as an extra bonus, is the better, economical choice. However, regardless of my personal feelings, if you are going, have fun.

Almost Over

Dang. Crucial.
In about a week, it’s back to band.
It’s awfully sad how quickly the summer has gone. It’s been fun, but it’s been a blur. I swore to myself I was going to slow this one down and have lots of fun, and I have(had lots of fun). But it’s still gone.
With everyone with various commitments, it’s been hard to actually gather ppl together(since I’m not a big fan of the late night par-tay-ing), but it’s been managed. I wasn’t nearly as productive as I had hoped, but that really shouldn’t come as ‘ne shock. Everyone has plans at the beginning of the summer… then realize we’d rather sleep. Fair tradeoff, I’d say. In ‘ne case, more specific news…
So my mom tells me a couple days ago that she was going to make an emergency trip up to Toronto. Apparently, one of my mom’s best friends from college(whose son I got to become pretty good friend’s with) is in pretty bad condition. She had breast cancer a couple years ago, which they had removed, but recently, she’s collapsed several times, and they think it’s spread to her brain or bone or something. In ‘ne case, my mom is going up to see her for about the next week. Please pray for her.
In a sort of guilty fashion, we’re taking advantage of her trip. See, if you don’t know, Canada has the best food. Ever. Hands down. Way better than the US. Well, mebbe the cuisine was better in China, but you know what I mean. In ‘ne case, when my mom goes up there, we demanded she take the big suitcase and pack as few clothes as possible, just to stuff more food. Gonna be awesome. Par exemple…
Crunchie Bars- Can’t really explain, there’s this sweet, hard, spongy part in the middle and covered in chocolate. Awesome.
Wine Gums-Imagine, like, gummy bears… in different shapes… and harder… and better tasting. That’s Wine Gums. Awesome.
Corn Pops- I know they have corn pops here, but the ones in Canada are better. The ones here are like, flattened ovals, but the ones in Canada are like, spherical crunchie chunks of sweetness. Awesome.
Dad’s Oatmeal Cookies and Aeroroot- Canada makes the best cookies too. Awesome.
Coffee Crisp- It’s a coffee flavored chocolate bar. Beat that. Awesome.
President’s Choice Peanut Butter- Possibly the best peanut butter ever. It’s like, organic peanut butter with the chunks and separation, but better than ‘nething here. Awesome.
All-Dressed Chips- Hard to explain, but they’re the best flavor ever. Awesome.
Ketchup Chips- They might have these around here, actually, but they’re awesome. Awesome.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a thousand things, but Canadian food is just better.
So yesterday, my mom took me to go listen to a speaker from Yale talk over at Strake. Quite interesting, actually. Saw Neville(and his dad with a shaven head; it was weird. Can you imagine Neville with a shaven head? There’d be brains popping out everywhere! Can you imagine Neville reading this right now?) and Michelle Maurin there; always good to know I’m not weird. Well, mebbe I am weird, but I’m not weird alone. In ‘ne case, it was quite interesting. I must say, the speaker was very good, for I’m feeling the distinct pull to try to get into Yale, though I’ll do more research and discover whether it was just elegantly planned rhetoric or if I’ve found the one person in the world who isn’t a weasel(on a similar note, I’m reading “Way of the Weasel” by Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert, again, right now. It’s hilarious; I suggest it to ‘neone who like Dilbert). College planning is definitely coming up(as well as massive scholarship undertakings by the direction of my mom). Btw, again, I’ll throw in another shameless plug: try using www.fastweb.com. It’s a great scholarship finder.
So the Harry Potter phonomena has struck again. That book is way too popular and much too hyped, but I guess I’ve been sorta influenced; while I didn’t await it at midnight or rush out to get it asap, I wouldn’t mind having someone lend it to me *wink wink nudge nudge* since pretty much everyone I know has finished it in the first 2 days. Ridiculous.