Not Everyone can be a winner… but Taylor is!

Spent Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning up at Austin, doing the UIL thing. Congratulate everyone who went, because Taylor appears to have won sweepstakes for the State UIL Academics contest!
Computer Science was pretty much a hit for us. Frank, David, and I managed to go 1, 2, 3 on the written test, and got the most programs in our division (though we performed less than optimally on that) for quite a sizable win.
Looking at that trip, that was easily one of the best competitions I’ve ever went to. It was a vacation, except better. Compare:

VACATION
– you pay to go on a vacation
– to cut expenses, you usually pick lower quality accommodations (at least, that’s how it’s done in my family)
– you have fun
– depending on the trip, you either end up with your family, or your friends
– you chillax getting away from normal life
UIL STATE
– the school covered all expenses for the trip, including food
– we stayed at the amazing Embassy Suites
– I went with several of my friends
– we got to take along computers and a router, having a LAN party in the room
– several excursions brought us incredible glory at a state level
– the frisbee came with us
– completely forgot about AP tests and how nasty they’re going to be

Overall, I truly enjoyed that trip. While activities tended to minimize time dedicated to sleep, I now feel entirely ready to jump into AP tests and power out to the end of the year.

That contest also represents the end of my competitive high school career. Almost four years ago, I excitedly jumped at the array of competitions that existed, and it’s been a fulfilling experience. Thanks in large part to having amazing classmates, Taylor has had amazing success at a variety of academic competitions, and I’m awfully proud to have been a part of that. While I would’ve hoped to be where I am now, and done what I have, I don’t think I quite knew what being on this side would feel like. No regrets.

After talking to my uncle (who happens to read this blog; hi Uncle David!), I’m beginning to realize how many different paths I have now. Just as a finish picking colleges, now I have to pick what I want to do.
Before, Symbolic Systems seemed a perfect match for my interests and capabilities, but looking at the other programs at Stanford, I’m not so sure ‘nemore. Heck, I don’t fully know what I want to do with my life. So perhaps you know me better than I know me: what do you see me doing? What have you seen me do that I enjoy, and what do you think my strengths are?

A Satisfying Weekend

‘Twas just that.
UIL Academics district competition was Saturday morning, and Taylor did well, just like years past. In particular, all 3 of my events (number sense, math, and computer science) got 1st as a team and had 3 ppl place.
Number sense was the first on the day. Basically, numsen is a 10 minute test of 80 questions. It’s all mental math, no scratch work (automatic disqualification) or ‘nething. You must write in pen, and scratch-outs and “modified” answers (you started writing a “3”, but change it into a “5”. There’s an art to it) are counted wrong. If you as much as have a stray dot on your paper, you’re busted. So yeah, that one’s a lot of fun. I took the test and breezed through the first 35-40 questions in great time, then hit a terrible brick wall. In the end, I scored 144 (out of 400), good for 3rd. Overall, I am a bit disappointed, but I know I can bring that one up tremedously. David and Frank had 24-omething and 20-something, respectively, ahead of me, and Aditya grabbed 6th. We did very well in districts, but unfortunately have a buttload of work to do before area.
Computer Science was next. This is a 45 min, 40 question test, of basically all written comp sci in java. Being the reigning state champions, we weren’t worried at all (a bit cocky, I guess), but later learned we had won in a 1 question squeaker, with Cinco right behind us. All of us had done very well, but the test also happened to be pretty darn easy, hurting a bit of what we still believe is an advantage in the scheme of things. Frank missed 1 for 1st, and me, Michael, and David all tied for 3rd, missing 3 each. CS went well, even if it was close.
Math was the last on the day. It’s a 60 questions, 45 minute test, and, boy, is it tricky. I like to pride myself on working pretty quickly in math, while still maintaining fairly good accuracy, but the UIL math test takes it to a completely different level. Almost all the questions are do-able, with a bit of manipulation, but the volume of questions plays a huge role. I ended up skipping 17 of the 60, and as bad as that sounds, I was quite pleased with my performance, even if a bit worried about it. Fortunately, it was apparently good enough for another 3rd place, with, supplies!, David and Frank ahead of me (David won it, of course). Even better, we’re only 52 pts behind the highest scoring team in our area, and none of us are near our peak of ability, so, hopefully, we’ll be able to carry math to state.
After that, I quickly got over to band for a pre-UIL contest. This year, if you didn’t know, apparently Janda decided that he has some faith in me, and gave me a giant jazz tuba solo. Yep. It’s fun, though. So, our stage performance was fine, not the best, but not the worst. On my first shot on my solo, I thought it sounded pretty good. Some of the technique could have been better, but it’s definitely in okay shape. In sightreading, we got rave reviews from our judge, which I guess works out for not having practiced it.
In short, life is good.
Btw, if you see either Frank or David, congratulate them on UIL districts; those guys are absolutely brilliant, and they deserve it all.