Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year 2011

Thank you to those special readers who made my Christmas extra-Merry. It means a lot to receive your thoughts and kind words. 2010 represented a decrease in quantity of posts, but, as I believe, an increase in quality. What I mean is that, in these last few months, I've started doing research for a number of the posts. Another factor is college. Although I got the bulk of my work out by November, some new colleges popped up on my list- and they were not Common App. I sent my last college essay (those take time to write well!) at 3pm today. I gave it to the postman passing by in the neighborhood. Some good news too: I received full acceptance to Univ. of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh, and to the Maritime College of New York. A number of the other applications are still in the works. I must note that I made a good step forward at Maritime's neighbor across the Sound, the US Merchant Marines. I made sure to apply only to colleges where I'd be happy (not just ok with) to go come Fall semester, so I'm in a good position right now no matter what happens April 1.
Happy New Year as we head into year 2 of this new decade!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Before I Snooze, Merry Christmas!

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas

For us in the DC Area, the official qualification for a white Christmas seems a bit strict. That would be one inch. This morning, we got a dusting. The effect was best on the river though. With the recent cold water, the river was frozen thick and appeared as if we had received a healthy snowfall. We received 3 inches last week.
Snow and Christmas seem to go so well with each other.

We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Consumer Test: Roll-Sort

Some have said that sorting through half-dollar rolls provides the most collector coins, because they don't change hands much. Others claim that dimes offer a better return on time, because the date's so small on the coin. One frustrated collector whimmed that nickels are a better deal. Little Brother and I tried all three options on 60 halves, 400 nickels, and 250 dimes. The dimes were duds; the halves turned up nothing this time, but the nickels showed the greatest variety. Of 400 nickels, 10 were more than 50 years old, and one was a silver WWII nickel. According to Internet reporters, 1 of 1000 dimes is silver, so our sample was probably not large enough. I cannot dash over halves though; over the summer I came across two full rolls of silver halves. I figure that any coin that ends up in regular rolls of halves has already been mulled through by another collector. Seek hand-wrapped rolls.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Infrastructure and Debt

I'm on Winter Break now, so readers can expect more insightful and numerous posts over the next two weeks.

Increasing national debt seems to have bipartisan support. This recent legislation aggravates the Fed's fiscal condition. It's old news now, but I have to bring it up for the record. Giving tax breaks to all (rich and poor and those in between) is an easy way to get re-elected -until someone forecloses on the Feds.

Manhattan's population, both in terms of residents and visitors, has grown steadily over at least the past 20 years. In the meantime, a single new link to access the island, from Mainland US, or the outer boroughs, has been built or rebuilt since the 1950's. This newer link would be a single rail tunnel started in the 1960's, finished in the 1980's. Likewise, no new subway has been opened since 1940, save for a few miles in the 1980's. There is supposedly a new tunnel being built under the East River to Grand Central,but we can't verify progress until the trains start to run. For all I know it could just be a money pit- sort of like the cancelled Hudson Tunnel Project. Gov. Christie: things don't get cheaper! As for the Hudson River, no new span- rail or auto- has been built since 1936. Modern technology has allowed for increased efficiency of the train tunnels, but some time you need infrastructure!

MD 200 (codename for Outer Beltway) appears to be almost complete on the first 5-mile section. On-time completion is still within the allotted timeframe. I would have appreciated it if the road were open today- would've saved time over winding through backroads!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snow

As my classmaate across the table was working away on math, I kept my joy to myself. When I got up to go outside before the flurries stopped, J. wanted to know what I was doing. "Catching some flakes", I explained. He put his work down and stared intently out the window. Sorry, J., for distracting you. Outside, I let youthful enthusiasm get the best of me as I lallied around on the path to the upper building. An exchange student from China asked, "what's that?". Snow. He was gone before I could find out if he got snow frequently at home.

Then I saw in the tabloid paper; "snow showers", forecasted for Monday (tomorrow). I can remember the joy that a fresh snowfall would bring as I woke up at 6am, as if there was to be school. Snow settled overnight, as the yellow of the streetlight reflected on the thin layer of white on the road in the pre-dawn sky.
Actually, back to reality, snow during an exam period isn't too desireable; you've got to take the tests sometime.Thus, it is bittersweetness I feel as the forecast dissipates.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

We've Got Creativity

Every competitor to American dominance (and holder of the fed's debt)seems to be sending satellites, trinkets, and people into space while we stagnate. They, too, seem to have kids who are smarter and more dedicated to learning than our videogaming youth. These international kids major in STEM disciplines, of all things! So, is America behind?

Who was...
First to launch the forerunner to mid-20th century rocket technology (Goddard),
First Space Tourist (Dennis Tito of California)
First to send an Iphone to Space on a 4-figure budget("Brooklyn Space Program"*)First to privatize Space. I heard that the backer of the SpaceX program is actually from South Africa, but history books will remember this as an "American" endeavor.

The SpaceX launch earlier this week resembled what the government did about 50 years ago. However, one main difference is that this project was spearheaded by private industry. If a private company built a craft that terminates the lives of 2% of its occupants, there'd certainly be outrage, and shutdown by the feds. But if the government does it, it's simply a Christopher Columbian Odyssey. In 55 or so years of government management through NASA, the space program notably sent men to the moon (but none in 37 years), and a shuttle (which would be an antique if it were a car). As in a number of other homegrown tech-related industries, the government spearheaded initially, but then there came a time for private industry to take over.


Mercedes has this "exclusive" social network for the under-30 set. But clearly the website was written by someone over 30: I'm one of too many of my "demographic" for the club. In big letters from them: Sorry. In fine print, there is a link to the general survey page, but the damage had already been done. Okay, another luxury car company would actually appreciate my interest in their business (my loyalties are with Volvo).

But consider this: if I were a potential customer, I'd be totally turned off. Rule 103 of marketing: make your customer feel special. Now suppose that down the road, I decide to go to a Benz dealership. I'd have fun with the salesman. Don't ask me about the chicken games I'd set up for him, but I'd get the run for my money. The set-up line might possibly be;"I know that something that happened between me and this company 30 years ago isn't your respnsibility, but someone's got to take the fall." The result may end up with me taking that electronic checkbook out the door in confidence(if cars will be sold in stores then), or in a good laugh.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Old Establishments

America's oldest college, Harvard University was established in 1636.
This date takes on the Yamasa Soy Sauce makers by a mere 9 years.
William and Mary is a then-lifetime younger, coming in at 1693.

News reports cite several examples of restaurants and inns dating back to the 11th century. The Hoshi Inn in Komatsu dates to 718.
As for an organization outside Japan, the Worshipful Company of Bakers dates to 1155. The Medieval guild is something you may have read about in your World History textbook. Nice to know that they're still alive and well.

One thing to take in mind is that most of these oldest establishments are not, and have never been in their histories, conglomerates!
A prime example of the dangers of diversification is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese Temple Building firm that has been in continuous family operation since 578, just a century after Ancient Rome's fall. However, the latest generation of family leaders branched out to commercial real estate in the 1980's, and, well, bad idea. The company, debt-ridden, was absorbed in 2007. Read this Bloomberg article:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day

As I have for the past 3 years, my brother and I returned to the Choirschool in New York for a night on the town. So what usually happens is that the younger alumni will come over for cocktails and dinner, play some basketball with the 8th graders, then try to see a movie. After banging on the dark windows of three or more theaters, we'd resort to hooving around Times Square.

However, this year is the first year in which the cinema was open past 11pm Wednesday before Thanksgiving. In years past, even in New York City, you couldn't catch a Thanksgiving overnight flick. As a group, we watched Harry Potter 7.1. It really wasn't my style; I'd have preferred the plot to take place at Hogwarts. There was a lot of action, noises, and shrieks in the film, which should've been unfriendly to peaceful sleep. I must have rolled through a whole sleep cycle during the film, because I didn't feel tired at all afterwards.

The GAP student was very cordial and overly generous; he lent out the living room of his 1BR apartment in the Choirschool to us graduates. It was cock-crow time when we came back from the food cart run,and almost dawn when we turned off the lights. I thought I'd pull an all-nighter, but by my usual school wake-up time of 6am, I was fast asleep and missed my alarm clock set for Sunday wakeup of 7:30am. That was the second time I slept through the alarm.

I made it to mass on time (11am), but it was such an adventure to cross After being engulfed in a mass of people, Gus and I were able to get into the empty-enough Subway and ride a loop-around trip to the church east of the parade. The service was brilliant; I had become unaccustomed to the acoustics of the grand church, St. Thomas Fifth Avenue. A meander through the wonders of Port Authority and Penn Station (with Tim Hortons!) preceded our departure by Megabus from the city. Too soon was it time to leave, and maybe next trip I'll allot more time to see the city.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Early Onset Senioritis

I opened the mailbox and pulled out an envelope that I thought to be rather thin. I was pretty anxious when I realized it came from a "quick decision early action school". I peeked for a key word: either Congratulations!,or Regretfully,.../a dry Thank You. Then I saw the word "Congratulation" blazed in gold on the outside of the manila envelope. I suspected what was inside, but wasn't 100% certain (maybe they wanted more information). As it turns out, that day yesterday, I got an acceptance letter to U Pitt, Pittsburgh. Most of the content of fat envelopes has been moved online, as it appears from the "enclosed details". Pittsburgh is a school that I'd be very happy to attend come Fall 2011. As a result of my personal college ranking, I was able to cancel plans to do applications to several lesser picks of mine. It's not even Thanksgiving and I have a place to go. Early Action is wonderful.

"Why aren't you having a party?" asks Dad as I'm quietly doing homework. "Homework", I reply. No Senioritis for me, yet. Upon the insistence of those around me, I'm still applying to "high reach schools" in New England. Furthermore, the Honors College requires a maintenance of a 3.5 GPA (the SAT threshold was the easy part, right). Notwithstanding this, I have a Service Academy Nomination interview over Christmas Break (that's technically in second semester). Senioritis is not a legitimate condition to them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Just Happened

Tomorrow will be one hour longer. As you set back your clocks (the ones that don't automatically reset), don't forget to check your smoke detectors as well.

As I am not a political pooh-bah,but rather a busy student, I did not have the luxury of time to wing around Downtown DC for Gray's celebration of victory* then up to Baltimore to hit up some political celebrations for both MD Governor contestants. First,I must ask, how much is it a victory party when you "win" 42% to 56%? Yes, you're the one with the 37%. Some issue concerning voter discouragement robocalls arose from a message along the lines of;"take it easy tonight" Your candidate won so you don't have to go to the polls". All or nothing shot, isn't it? Four days after the election, (formerly) incumbent candidate Gov. Ehrlich's Rockville, MD campaign office stood deserted save for a large poster in the window and some furniture and yard signs.

*over an unofficial campaign to write-in Fenty the incumbent. Fenty, a pro-charter school, pro-business democrat won the DC Republican nomination but declined the offer.

So, we didn't lose many incumbents in our area:
Local congressional politicians in a feedback loop

Decades ago, a pro-government candidate won the vote of a constituency of government employees.

The government hasn't left the area. No reason to shake things up politically.

The candidate is still in office, but very powerful now because he (or she in Mikulski's case) has seniority.

When you've got seniority,you bring home bacon. This means bringing more government money and people to the area.

You wouldn't want to vote against bacon, would you?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Test Material on This Page

I'm sure that anyone involved knows that October SAT scores came out today. I know that it was hard to get through between 12:01am and 2:00am, as the needlessly worried students stayed up to see the event. The lines probably were also heavy from 6:00am to 8:00am, as the early to bed crew started to rise. Mom convinced me that I should save the surprise as an afternoon treat. Why'd I want to check at 6am? "So I wouldn't wallow alone". Commiserating is a sport. In fact, SAT was the topic of our shortened day. Busy with a Latin test for a good part of the time, I wasn't able to run to the Publications Lab to check my results. After all, I don't have my SAT login code memorized.

If you're wondering, I did a swell job. Only thing, is that the scholarships get bigger the closer to 1600 you get. At some point I have to stop worrying. Talk about restoring sanity, though.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brief Points

*Mole Day was yesterday, 6:02am- 6:02pm (6.02 x 10^23). It's nice to see science being relevant in culture.
*Computer is running excessive virus scans. There's nothing to fear but fear itself, "radialpoint".
*Watched "The Social Network" on the silver screen yesterday evening. Very well presented; sad that it ended after 2 hours (just about on the dot). There were racy scenes; probably not suitable for little kids or grandma. College students seem to appreciate this movie the most.
*Finishing up on that college essay. Found a hook and a decent line and typed it up. I just need a few transitions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Half Birthday

That's 17 and a half. The high-IQ kid's show "Arthur" makes a stand about Prunella's ego-eccentricity when she throws a 9-1/2 birthday party (wow- almost double digits!) The little celebrated, often ridiculed milestone marks halfway from last April to legal. I don't plan to do anything extravagant; it'll just be less of a hassle (no more "Mommy can you sign off on this").

More essentially, I spent part of this weekend over the state line at Holy Cross in Bethesda. It was a Model UN event, and a well-orchestrated one at that. I could rave for the food (Panera-esque bread bowl beat the taco option 10-1), but the dynamics of the committee sessions were a draw as well.

ALL the below is simulation, not breaking international news...

I repped VietNam in SPECPOL, dealing with the Pakistan Flood Crisis. Naturally, I chummed out with China and N Korea. I couldn't help but side with Lebanon :). Trusting the Pakistani government was an edgy position to take- but edgy in Model UN means fun. The chairs (the high school co-eds who ran the committee and imputed punishment to disruptive nations) kept reminding me and my friends (allies) that we were poor and therefore irrelevant to providing aid relief. Our little club befriended America and won over "that rich country" we needed to pass the bill. The chairs thought that China should fix its own poverty issue before bailing out Pakistan. Things were going oh-so-well; I was about to get my resolution passed, until a Crisis happened. Yes, it put egg on my face. A report came out stating that the Pakistani government was a leaky tube that lost 60% of aid money to evil-doers. Away with US support and my Resolution went out the window. Somebody on the Crisis committee is going to get a nuggy tomorrow in class...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Again

As a testament to my new-found busyness, I haven't posted since October 1. Meanwhile, stuff has happened. I plan to get all my college materials out by Oct. 28. Yes, I know that some colleges give applicants preferential treatment for getting in applications early. I know that some don't, but I want an universal deadline- for simplicity's sake.

It's Columbus Day again. The Feds and most schools are off today. Private industry was humming, so were the schools which take Yom Kippur off instead. Yes, a number of private schools as well as a few school systems in the New York Tristate Area and two in Maryland. What did I do today? Accept today as a day to get caught up on school work- and catch a nice jog on the C+O Canal.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Months Change and Laws Change

Yesterday, a tropical storm made a lake of the soccer field.
Today, a crisp autumn day replaced the summer heat. These pleasant days should become more frequent in the closing days of "the year of the weather".

But more importantly, a new law may change some bad habits. Repeatedly on this blog I declare texting while driving a really bad idea. While I'm not a fan of legislation, there's a change I'd like to inform everyone about and it may actually apply to you.

Marylanders seem to have an affection for talking( and texting) while driving. A law went into effect today banning use of handheld cellular communications devices by all classes of drivers, except for emergency calls. Car phone use seems to be the cause of most bad driving in the DC area. Don't expect Maryland drivers to "get better" overnight. According to a Wiki chart, MD is the only state with a lenient ban on adult/experienced drivers; it's (only) a secondary offense. In the other 6 no-phone states and DC you can be pulled over solely for using a phone.

Did you read this post on a mobile device?
Are you also trying to drive?
Then pull over so you can spend undivided attention on my blog!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Organizational Charts by Teens

House Day. You don't appreciate the work it takes to put the day together until you do it yourself. No, I did not do it singlehandedly, but the Student Prez. and Veep spent many hours preparing and the whole House Day ready to intervene. When the duties for the day were divied up, the task came down to each individual. As a peripheral member of the "Student Gov" through the student paper, I was given the nerdish role of supervising Trivia. My duties came down to this list:

Find your House Members (the system was devised in 1987, before Harry Potter) and mark their hands A- D for rotations.
Ask yourself these questions:
Where this group of kids is supposed to go:
Which group should be arriving next:
Did anyone get lost, voluntarily or intentionally*?
For trivia: find replacements to fill seats left vacant by disappearing souls.

*Note to pundits who think us at the Abbey are nerds: Kids were skipping out of Trivia, not Football.

Even good planning can fall to pieces. I applaud quick response to a fiasco relating to the scavenger hunt. It took the kids 15 minutes (out of 45 planned) to complete the odyssey. After one rotation (of 4), the activity was scrapped and the old standby of "Protect the Wall" resurrected. The kids were grateful, too, that there was one less academic activity for the day.

After finding enough warm bodies to fill Trivia seats, I was getting a little fever for the game myself. Even though Seniors aren't technically allowed to, I got my turn to compete on stage just before the day was over. My brilliance did not overwhelm the other Grade 9-12 contestants, so I wasn't by-lined after answering 10 questions!

A clear-cut test of organizational success is the ice cream service. How long was the wait? Not long at all, since we pre-scooped.

The temperature reached over 90 degrees with high humidity, but no results of heat casualties. Accolades for water service and frequent-enough breaks from activities. By the last rotation at high noon, I received plenty of help for inside the air conditioned theater!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall and a Server

Today us in the National Capitol Region experienced the simple delight of cool, clean, crisp air in the morning. A forebearer of fall, the darktime cool will extend into the daytime hours. After plugging college applications for a good part of the afternoon, I decided to learn more about the heart of computer-to computer communication; ie, the basis of the internet.

A student whom some would attest is morally opposed to computers was plugging lines of code into Java for AP Comp Sci. It's easy to teach a young dog new tricks. On that basis, I quickly learned how the digital world works.

The internet is not exactly a bunch of tubes with trucks. It is, however, an efficient post office system of sorts. Your computer request information in a protocol manner and the server responds, possibly asking you for your credit card number. This back and forth happens frequently on your trip to the WWW. These days, the dialogue is continuous. The tube concept derives from this development. In more primitive days, the information would travel via regular phone lines (ohh- graphics were such a pain to load!) By the way, the computer would tie up the phone line while using the internet!

With the advent of DSL, this problem disappeared. I remember the surprise the first time a call came through while looking up info (that's all there was back then!) Back in the dial-up days, blogging might have been done on computer software, then with modem flipped on, the text would be transmitted to the server. Doing work online (ie writing blog posts) was, to my knowledge, not common. Back then we also relied on landline phones and couldn't tie them up for an hour.

Now who wants to be an internet historian?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Patriot's Day ACT

This passage is based on material from practice tests and post predrafted on Sept. 10. I took the test this morning at West Potomac High, South Fairfax, VA; the last available site in the Anselmer's sphere of influence.

The ACT is a great relief for the College Board student. Looking at the prep material, there's a greater patriotic element in the literature comprehension selection than in the SAT. On this chain, the ACT also contains more material which the mainstream of collegebound students would find interesting.
Many of my classmates who scored in the 1800's (of 2400 potential) topped 30 (out of 36 potential). The ACT conversion indicates a 27 would be expected. Thus, it's fair to say that you, too, might do better on the ACT. Is it right for everyone, though?
You ought to have taken math through the Algebra 2 level; and had a thorough teacher at that.

Learn to conceal your laughter at bad grammar
You don't need a big lexicon
While reading passages, think of ways you'd shorten the text
Know that the ACT wants you to be succint and direct,like the archetypical American.
You will spend more time with the calculator
Some problems will resemble math class
Don't get discouraged by the dense language of the intercultural reading passage. The ACT only has one.
You should be able to analyse data and make logical leaps as the time presses short

Is it a forewarner of America's future? The science section was designed to be pressed on time, compared to the english and math sections. The math is at a challenging level for most test-takers. Some pundits have used the ACT as positive proof of poor math and scientific ability in American youth!

A teacher who will remain nameless has the tendency to let his students' essay-writing skills deteriorate after 2 semesters. The east coast SAT- slicker may find the transition back to AP's (especially AP English Language!) Not to fret. While the ACT has been favored upon by talent searches such as John Hopkins U's CTY, more east coast colleges have come to accept the test from Iowa.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In DC? Enjoy cooler weather and track work...

In just a few minutes, the eastern branch of the DC Metro's Red Line will close for major overhaul. Having rode the line a few hours ago, nothing seems amiss on the trackbed. This is the trackkeepers' job; to intervene before the bottom falls out. From my engineering-dad's perspective, there will be a fascinating array of work-crews and equipment on the trackbed from 10pm tonight until 5am Tuesday morning. That's 79 hours of intensive care for the tracks that carry hundreds of trains a day.
Most people won't mind, though. They're out of town, far away from the DC Metro and its temporarily truncated service. If all goes well on the tracks this weekend, my Tuesday commute will be a bit better than before.

Friday, August 27, 2010

School's Fun

Today was my first full day of school since May. The transition wasn't too hard, as I'd spent plenty of hours this summer at the Abbey kicking around the soccerball. What took me back was my realization, on the Metro ride home, that I'd just spent sunrise to sunset at school. I ought to not have been; the administrators assured us 1st semester seniors that we'd have enough to do.

There is a good shot I missed out this season's issue of prime lockers (24 cubic feet) and settle for one half the size. I mean , there were about 18 Seniors eligible (i.e. currently play a sport and allege that a regular locker would not fit their sporting equipment)for the 22 units. I sense that the Juniors took a few of them nefariously. What I get now is a good selection of neighboring real estate.

(As a matter of micropolitical correctness,I'll add commentary on other subjects later).

In AP Biology, there was a sense that memories- from Freshman Biology- last: the teacher recalled JH, now a student gov't leader, machoing his lab partners on his ability to tolerate the stench before he himself got woozy on formaldehyde.

We participated in a great textbook issue. For the first time, the textbooks really feel like 20th century technology. In recent years, we have saved our backs with online editions for home use. However,many conceded that this is the year we should've transitioned to e-readers. In the Pub(lications Lab, two seniors were hashing out our class' eternal keepsake, the yearbook, and two other leavers were working on the glossy-paged periodicals we kindly critiqued award-winning literature. I received my first homework assignments of the year. As a matter of good policy, I made at least a token effort to complete the assignments before starting the weekend.

In IE (intro to engineering), I'm earning credit for what I do on my own: think of how to make things work. For the team portfolio (a semester-long lab report, in other words), I'll have to insert some calculations. I think the more tedious they look, the better it will be received by the PhD. Certain that the Doctor wouldn't approve of any idea we generated on day 1,I left good sketches in my notebook for closer to the first advisory grades. The details of these, and of many of my and my classmates' maligned and horrid ideas will remain sealed until presentation day in December.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

15 hours until I wake up and go to school

Enjoying my last day of summer break. Soccer preseason is the most sleep I'll get during the school year. All in all, I'm looking forward to senior year- asides from the class which gave me a vague homework assignment. There's no more time to spruce up assignments or say that I should be doing xyz with my time. As it's said at the Service Academies: Plebe Summer- you didn't have to worry about homework! Now I do. See everyone tomorrow!

I recommend everyone pack their bags for school tonight, because you will be disoriented waking up at 6am, possibly in the dark.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sum up a month?

Last published July 31?! What have I done with my time?
Here is the hierarchy of media, according to my soon-to-be overlord of publications (If you remember from my May postings, I got a job for the student paper at school).
Good news
No news
Old news
Lame/ pagefiller news
I've gone for the second choice, basically.

I've been off of pool work for a week now, and I must say that this past week was the fastest gone- in my life, perhaps. Nothing happens in town in August, and I haven't done too much of note. Maybe I'll let you in on the Tuesday saunter around Capitol Hill, into Eastern Market, the Library of Congress, Union Station, and the Folger Shakespeare (Mr. F made money in oil, not coffee). Didn't do the Capitol Visitor Center, though, b/c I didn't feel like going through a "double" security screening. Nice itinerary, though. Rolling a wheel and tire Wednesday down the street to the gas station during a rainstorm was comical, though.

Maybe you want to get to know a little more of what I've done: I finished reading my third Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. If you found a deep message in this book, please write me! (The others: FWTBT and Old Man). I've started to write out the family tree of the Greek goddesses and gods, but still need to comprehend (read: read) The Iliad and The Aeneid. Amazingly, I've gotten more homework done at work than during my time home.

Soccer preseason is going on. PT during Navy Summer Seminar seems like cake compared to Coach's special relay-runs mixed with PT. We do this drill black-flag day (hot n humid)or not. There's plenty competition for the Varsity spots: more talent than ever on the St. A's team.

I've also slept away a little under 40% of this past week. I accredit that to biological recovery from soccer.

Can't believe that I haven't told you all about my weekend sailing or my weekend to Long Island. That'll come soon. I promise.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Brief Interruption to Discuss a Pertinent Issue

Insurance companies, especially Allstate and State Farm, have been burning risk pool money for lobbying congress.
In this case, they don't want to insure minors, a high-risk group (though not as high as the 75+ group)

To the public, they rally in the name of "saving 11". That's the daily number of teen auto deaths. It is a valid cause, but the approach to ameliorating this tragedy must be scientific and not political. This way, we will get the best result on lives saved.

Having held a Learner's License for 12 months, the medley of rules in each state of the nation gives me different levels of privileges. In some states, learner's cards are commuted to full licenses. Learning drivers' operating hours vary significantly For example, DC restricts driving hours to 6am-9pm, a number of states restrict from 1am-5am. Travelling with the family, it only meant a larger number of seating arrangements (i.e. brother and I in front seats, parents in back). The STANDUP ACT would change this by "standardizing" driving ages by increasing to the greatest common factor.

Washington, we have regional variations. In some states, increasing age minimums has had an effect on lowering accident rates. I have second thoughts about the effect it has had in some others. We have something called a "free state" complex north of the Potomac. In Maryland, a statistic provided by explains that 5% of drivers in Maryland are unlicensed. Why? Fear of the MVA is the short reason. Also, laws are more loosely enforced than in Virginia, which throws the books at young drivers, esp. from out-of-state. Just putting it out there, it's easier to change laws (make licensing more available) than change the custom of "self-initiation".

I'll be dwelling on Maryland's case for a while. Most of my angst teen readers are Maryland-licensed drivers). Perhaps the MD has the most extreme case: 15y9m for a learner, and now 16y6m for a Provie. If you're under 18, you can't get a "real license". You get automatically installed enhanced privileges at 16y11m reworded to be a prophetic "151 days thenceafter".

Of course, your old man or lady can officially put on your brakes. All it takes is a nice letter to the MVA "asking for them to take away Timmy's license" (Thank goodness you can't do it one-click online).Timmy, good luck trying to get a judge to rule your parent "incompetent".
If a 17-year old can operate an army tank, why isn't a civilian friend able to operate a pleasure vehicle?
Because he's irresponsible, says the AARP? I, and the general public, believe that experience, not maturity, (yes, there are immature teens out there. We can shape 'em up with: a job that is not make-work). Some politicians and youth-fearers think otherwise.

You really don't understand how annoying pedestrians can be til you've wheeled around the city. With that experience, I'll bet your bottom dollar that you'll be a better and more aware pedestrian. It had an effect on me.

There's also the matter of civic responsibility. What's the social impact of being reliant- on a parent- to register for voting or for the draft? Answer- you'll never grow up if you're a recipient of such state-mandated coddling!

Welcome to your pool. Your life is in the hands of pre-sixteeners. Good luck finding the manager. He's 17. Trust 15-year-olds with the safety of pool patrons, don't trust 17-year-olds with cars.

At least it will have one positive effect: increased young voter turnout. Yep, in my conversation with young Marylanders,they're anti-incumbent over the recent licensing-age reshuffling. Some of them are going to vote, too, because they feel as they've been insulted.

Another tip: Make kids buy their own car or insurance. Several entitled children I know have caused serious damage to their "grown-up" toys. The ones who put personal investment into their rides tended to have clean records.

Come to think of it, there are two groups of "bad drivers"- those coming in, and those going out. When our time comes, we may well consider "supportive legislation" for drivers "in their golden years".

I haven't even gotten to the matter of states' rights. Like much maligned legislation, the standupact is an unnecessary impediment to individual states. Some states (like California and, on most points, Maryland) have driving codes that adhere to a "national standard". Most states don't, and most states don't have a problem with that.

The worst-conceived provision in the STANDUP ACT is raising the Learner's License age to 16. Duh- isn't that when you traditionally get a full license? Other than that, it undermines safe driving practices that are initiated by the family and approved of on various levels by each state. Say, learn at 14, drive alone at 16 gives a full 2 years of learning experience in the more impressionable years! Maryland would be double-undermined. The learning stage, just increased last year, would be cut back to the length it was in the first place. A little-known provision allows for no age restriction on driving with a certified instructor (experience and coursework counts toward state requirements if done since your 15th birthday).

Some personal suggestions:
Parental Involvement
Parents: Give experience while they're young: before "wheel envy" sets in.
Drunk/Buzzed driving is totally unacceptable and morally wrong
Do something about chronic speeders. Habits form young
Fatigued driving is also a bad idea
Bona-fide commuting rarely results in tragedy. Let teens carpool with each other. Consent forms make sense for minor passengers.
Bad things happen at night. You should know where your kids are at 10pm. You know, trust but verify. Thanks, Ronald.
"Night driving is the strangest thing". I said it myself. Kids should have monitored experience, and lots of it, before attempting to go solo at night.
Shock therapy: imagine all the bad things that could happen if you
Discuss Insurance rates
Accidents during necessary trips are a tragedy. Accidents during cruising or chilling times is a too frequent occurrence. Idleness can lead to trouble. Boaters and pilots file float plans. Driving kids should do the same.

Amazing story: A friend, now at the USAFA in Colorado, volunteered himself and his F-150 to hospital duty during our recent blizzards. He was 17 then.

Note: I follow all restrictions placed on my license.

Monday, July 26, 2010

West 2010: Day 0, Appalachian Plunge

Clean-up was easy; at the local pool, things are squared away so that guards can focus on guarding people and summer youth focus on cleaning. Within an hour, the car was laden with hundreds of pounds of provisions. After 2 blocks due east to access the bridge, we were headed due west, for the next 2500 miles. The sun was hot this July 5, and the sun would bake Washington for the next week. The sun set red with particulate dust as we rounded Hagerstown. Traffic was moderate but dealt with by my newly learner licensed brother. One thing I remember about the west is the "strange" fuel octanes. 91 is the recommended octane for our vehicle; we have 87. 89, and 93 in our area, but this station 70 miles out had the fuel. I-68 through Maryland was quaint, to say the least, with rolling hills that dragged mile through mile. The heavy car gyrated from 45 to 70 miles per hour in an attempt to save the engine from undue stress. I handed over the wheel back to my brother outside the WVA border...and woke up under the awning of a conference hotel in Morgantown, WVA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leading Up To Vacation

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I last posted. A lot has gone on. It sounds cliched, but when you consider the time it takes to prepare for a 6,000 mile odessey by auto, taking the trip, and recovering from it, I'll say my current internet presence is a wonderful addition to the world scheme.
July 3 was my last day prior to vacation with my regular co-workers. Work had just gotten harder and I didn't want to rub it in , so I just gently mentioned "wedding and reunion" prior to signing out. I was also gentle on the managers, who were sorting out staffing matters. (It's great to work somewhere that you're basically essential).
July 4 was dedicated to sailing (that's another blog post to be written)...and to God. It's Sunday, after all. The Mass had a patriotic tint that was most appaernt in the recessional hymn, "God of our Fathers". Sailing is a good workout, I'll tell you. I still had time for tradition; hot dogs, watermellon and fireworks. Like I've attended every Palm Sunday mass since I was born, I've faithfully attened each National Mall July 4 Firework display since 1993 in some form or another (That was the 17th).
My main priority on July 5 was to complete the DODMERB ROTC/Service Academy physical, a necessary and important step for the aspiring midshipman. Make a good impression: As the Naval Academy mantra goes, "to be late is to be forgotten". Being on-time was not an issue with light traffic and an ample allowance of time to travel on my part. Since I was going on such a long trip, I decided to pull a day's work so I wouldn't forget what work is. I was assigned to a neighborhood pool of mine; little brother is based there and was more than eager to see me; he called 3 times in 70 minutes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A tired combobulation on a discount state workforce

A small-gov't dream! State employee salaries all reduced to minimum wage!
The bureaucracy should've never grown so big. I mean, a wage freeze seems to have solved the deficit in most places. A wage super-cut will fix a problem in no time.
But think of the children.

I am not an expert on Cali Labor Issues, so I'm not sure if the pencil pushers saw this coming. It's not nice to pull surprises on people's income: Is it even legal?
Any wage recoking will have to happen with newbies: A number of gov't jobs can be used as a fallback option for those who can't make it in the private sector. Then there are jobs that require a competitive workforce. No way else to recruit than competitive wages. Sorry, in America gov't work is not about honor and duty to the fatherland.
What the state workers need to do is drastic to keep their quality of life, ie strike. In DC Parks, we're pretty convinced that if our wages were cut, we wouldn't work.(I make summer job income and not a handsome salary). I got to mention that we have bargaining position as there is currently a mild staff shortage. Supposedly, there are better paying jobs for youth elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I am a modestly compensated state gov't worker who lives in Gov't City.

Try to imagine this news headline:
Obama to California: Drop Dead.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sailors, Seneca, Sunday

I had a dream. I was in a white sailor's suit, saluting then piloting a ship. That was a nice dream.
On a summer Sunday, I have little to do after the extraordinary morning church festivities (Patron Saint's day, SS Peter and Paul).
Twenty miles away from home, a lake in a regional park in Upcounty Mont.Co. looked appetible as my family finished business off in Germantown. The lake was Seneca Lake, in Black Hill Park.

On the small beach were young-looking lake attendants in Yellow polo and Khaki shorts chillaxing under an umbrella. Gosh, that's the future summer job of many DC lifeguards.(The DC guards say the pay and benefits are better across the state line, but that they demand experience). Really, they were environmental police. They were there to, in a friendly way, remind you that what you dump in the lake is what comes out of the tap next week. For this reason no swimming or motorboats are allowed. It makes the Lifeguards'/ Dockhands' job easier: any soul soaking in the water is either in distress or mischeivious. Let's call these people Tap Water Guards.
I'll just say that it's a huge difference in scenery: Poolside versus Lakeside.

I took a look at the Baywatch episode list. As expected, the plots are way over dramatized. That's understandable, but that show's got a lot of wild things going on. Still have yet to see my first episode.
In the real lifeguarding world, a reach-from-the-deck a day is an impressive record. It's also a sign that someone's neglecting prevention.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We call it Father's Day

Price of Tysons Buffet for two: $45
Running into a pack of classmates on the way home through Bethesda: Priceless.

What is a free day to me?
Navy respects Sundays just as I do: it's something special. After morning PT, you're off until noon to pursue religious activities. In fact, the day is tagged as "yard liberty", aka, you can walk around casually; just stay on campus.
It must've been an act of God- I've never been that tired after a buffet (in Rockville). Already late in the day, our party decided to not pursue the cooler clime of North Central Maryland and decided to return home.
Sleepy, I caught sight of kids that looked like they went to St. Anselm's. Mom thought so too. We pulled around a corner and I doubled back to meet them, in Summer Seminar attire. We shot the breeze for a minute, dicussing a Brazilian friend's antics after the world cup game (the series that I have missed out on, but not regretted). If they had to see it to believe it, though, I'm Navy.

Remember, TH, to practice parallel parking before taking the road test!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Five Days in Annapolis, Been Changed

Article I of the US Armed Forces Code of Conduct:
"I am an American fighting in the forces which defend my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense".

EMT teams raced around campus Wednesday as we performed a half-version, 7 hour synthesis of Sea Trials, a keystone experience for Plebe (Freshmen) Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis Although our whole squad of 7 pulled through, not every shipmate did. Some stopped on their own volition; others went out with a zap and bang. On our squad's final trial, fatigued, wet, and sore, we clumsily bear-crawled down a hill. We had a perfect sightline of EMT's working on a fellow shipmate. I suppose that the Midshipmen didn't put up a courtesy curtain because "that there ain't the worst you'll see in battle". The openness of the event also allowed us to say to ourselves and to our squad buddies: "That kid has (darn) good dedication".

I had a co-worker tell me that I was nuts for considering to attend a service academy. Multiple times over the week we were reminded, directly and indirectly, of what you'll have to be prepared to give up if you attend the Academy. Examples include time with friends and family, civilian clothes, "regular college stuff", your life. Our squad leader,a Midshipmen of the Class of 2013, took us to Memorial Hall, a most revered and hallowed space. We perambulated the hall in our buddy pairs. He pointed to the columns of WWII Midshipmen casualties. The usually peppy gymnast just stared. "That many", he murmured. We then went over the wall bearing plaques for the casualties of recent graduating years. The squad leader showed us our place on the wall: "Remember, we are at war and will likely be at war when you graduate". What I want to do is pilot from the bridge of a large ship. My title would be Surface Warfare Officer. My buddy wants to train to be an aviator- not on recon missions but as a Marine Aviator, in the middle of the field of action. I was not dissuaded, neither was he. We know that with privilege comes responsibility. "Where else will someone let you, age 25, take out a $40 million jet and burn $18,000 of fuel in a single trip?"

That's what's so great about being a Naval Officer- the end product of Academy life. Now clean words here will not describe how much I loved the daily challenges- including and especially Sea Trial Day, a "tough day" even when it comes to real-life plebe year. This is the best part- I never expected that I would like it so much.

I reencountered that shipmate the next day at "Graduation". He told me in a serious tone,"Too bad that I missed Indoc last night 'cuz I was in the hospital".
What a beast.

Shipmate Anonymous, what you missed was the awesome experience of being placed under pressure by rising Sophomores who are testing out their newly-earned authority for the first time. Reality Check: What'cha gonna feel if your wood-clad ship was on fire? Personally, I was in a sweat based on the high expectations, but I kept cool under pressure. I wasn't 'dropped' (for reparation in the physical form) as much as I or any of my fellow squadmates had expected.

At least we had this sometimes rebellious reply in our sleeve: " Sir, order to the helm Sir". Never Sir a Ma'am, though.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Five Days in Annapolis

I have never been in the JROTC or taken a formal military science class or attend a military-centric school. That said, I'm off to Annapolis tomorrow for a five-day taste of the Naval Academy. I don't know what to say about a naval career; I've heard to keep an open mind about it.

Over Spring Break, I was looking up internship programs, the federal STEP (Summer temp. youth program), and other summer activities in general. Frankly, the application for the Navy program was not too hard. The hardest part was class rank. It was not an objective number from my point of view; our school doesn't supply it. In that case, the USNA stated to estimate. I lowballed my estimation for class rank, in deferrence to the math whizzes in my class and some others who applied with numbers 3, 5, and 7.

--I also applied for the USCGA Aim Program, but an apparent computer glitch prevented me from submitting my portfolio of paragraph essays.--

I applied later than my peers. When I first heard of their intent, one had already received a letter of acceptance. "First round pick", we say. I received a similar letter on formal stationary soon after the deadline. I suspect some of my other classmates received theirs as well. They haven't been vocal about it, though. As the school mantra goes, "As GPA's are competitive, so is everything else".

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Line Gone Out

On the bathroom counter lies a soup bowl filled with water, and a three-ringed bouquet of flowerheads suspended on the surface of the water. It's been over a week since graduation, where Hf. Riechert put those flowers in unfunctional yet artistic glass bowls. Yet, those live flowers still look fresh.
In retrospect, it's only been two weeks since the last final exam, but it has felt like it has been so long ago. Well, it's summer now, and a slow summer seems to be a good one.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SAT II, Round 1

SAT II today...
I took the tests at Holton Arms
Halfway between home and my violin instructor
(I was not the only one- other kids had their violins too, for after the test!)
I was originally scheduled for two- French and Chemistry
But I decided to throw in a Math II at the end
It turns out that when you take SATII you get the whole book of 30-something tests- and can choose which one to take at what time.
I heard US History is a popular impulse purchase.
The folks in Jersey say that they'll just bill your family for the extra tests.
Does this invoice delay my scores?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Donut Day

6/4 = National Doughnut (or Donut) Day.
In honor of this special occasion, I jogged over to the local Krispy Kreme (paradox), and took large bites into my Boston Kreme Donut that did not cost me a penny. Dunkin' Donuts is doing the same (the local college, GW, with its hoard of New Yorkers and Connecticut people, imported a DD to our area). While I'm in SATII prep mode, Little Brother is running a comparative "taste test" that will take him across the city and until 11pm.
Now say what about America's waistline?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Class of '10 (not me)

What's the chance?
Sent across town from my usual work site
and to the place down the street from school
for an event I wanted to attend?

I fidgeted with the duty schedule. When could I take a break- 40 minutes was what I needed. I found a gap- and I got the blessing of the manager to go off-facility. I threw on my casual best and ran for about 6-7 minutes until I reached the school auditorium. I picked up a brochure and read and chanted along with the grads and school community. I fulfilled a promise- I had not missed graduation!
I engulfed myself in the rituals and the camaraderie for the brief 15 minutes I had.
I took a peek at the young men in white suits on stage, then wished the exchange students well and sprinted back to work- making it back on time.
I took a good look at each of their framed spreads. All were able to list 6 achievements. Some had a NMSC (PSAT-related) tag on the crossbar. I took a good look as to imprint one last image of them in my mind.Some I had taken class with , some I hadn't,some I took two with. Some wished I had taken a class (one wished for more than 2), and some wish that Juniors were not allowed in Seniors' classes. We spent some time figuring out who would be the director of the HUD (after designing a bunch of exclusive resorts), and who would be the next Sec. of State (a name like Chancellor gives you a certain lead). We took some time too to figure who'd give the speech for the Class of 2035 (of course during Nick Johna's reign). There was an after-grad party, apparently, in the boardroom above the theater. There were two contemporary-aged co-eds crooning to two newly grads, appareled in casual attire. Don't worry, we iced one of them (we took one guy outside). Ah, next year the controversial class of 2012 will be taking care of our party.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cure for "Appalachia Syndrome"

It's all about access. That was the cure for Maryland Panhandle's three western counties. Since the 1950's, national planners have made good road contruction a key part in bringing this region to East Coast standards. Witness I-68. It's advertised as "the better way to Ohio and Points West". Sorry, Penna., but the septuagenerian turnpike doesn't make meet with a 19-year young double-shouldered beauty. There is variety, too; entering Cumberland you're thrown onto an inner-city style skyway.
A drive into the heart of West Virginia is a nauseating experience. While fun on a rec trip, your starch-suited investor's won't like the thrill.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Field Day 2010

Good organization and planning- or lots of people. After a video introduction, field day went on to be a great success. In reality, I am quite tired from it all!
Especially dodgeball: For my taunts, I became a perrenial target. This meant that I was dodging foam balls by rolling over to the side. This was injurious to the ankle, but like a young horse I hobbled back to stature.
Ice cream distribution went well for once, thanks to our leaders' great providence.
Great job, guys!

Moore House won this year, but I'm sure Main has a great shot at next year's cup.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quick Reflection Before Field Day

Ah, the pressure is sort of off. All I have to do is some last minute GPA tweakers- spare oustanding assignments. But that won't mean that I won't enjoy field day. Be there or be squared- by the 1/2 power (haw haw haw).
Next week what lies in store I don't know; grades are due on Tuesday, and only then can I let go. But that's soon.
Got to get out early to set up the events.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mid-Exam Report

According to the Wall Street Journal, success is a confidence game. How the two are related is unknown (does confidence come from likely success or does success come from sheer confidence?). This is the science behind good luck charms. Note, though, that superstition leads nowhere. Do your work and have faith in yourself.

Even though I have spent less time studying for these exams, I've felt that I've been doing a better job on them than in past exam cycles. What I mean is that I finished successfully and honorably within the 2 hour time frame. Now what this means is that I've actually learned something. Part of the solution may be a good night's rest. I was tempted last night to stay up to finish studying, but I decided to hold it off for the morning. This latter choice I took, and it was a good one.

Got to hit French now.
Coming up soon on this blog: Bring on the soda tax!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Go-Go a No-No near MoCo

What is GoGo? Just like Mambo sauce and Chinese carry-out, it's a part of DC culture. DC urban culture, that is- and by Urban we mean East of the Creek. Yeah.
A student organization from a tony, forward-thinking school in Tenleytown (west of the Creek), decided to hold one such event. Typically rowdy, go-go events are not something you bring West of the creek. But it was only meant to showcase urban culture in a whittled-down, sanitized way...
The debacle lived up to its rowdy reputation.
Imagine coming home to your quiet residential street at 5pm on Friday. After dinner, you go out to the front yard...and your neighborhood is taken away. Rowdy youth whose identities you don't know shout like it's the Battle of the Republic. Styrofoam containers litter the sidewalk. You get the idea.
For these tranquility-loving residents who associate themselves with suburban culture, this debacle hardened perpetual fears, concerns, and anxieties about what goes town.

I'd link a gogo video, but it's too graphic/crude for this blog. Look up "Mambo Sauce gogo" if you're really curious.
If you need a dose of our suburban culture, check up 90210. It resembles 20854. However, most of NW/ west of creek is a bit more subdued.

Source: Northwest Current, a community publication.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Don't Judge a Concept by its Title

There has been discussion on the topic of "net neutrality". Some internet service providers (ISP's) have a propensity for judging web content and determining an "appropriate" speed at which you can access it. Some in Congress want to bar this practice. What this proposal is is essentially banning a book based on its partiality (no-it's not a radio fairness doctrine matter- read on). What is more disturbing is that people who like the sound of "neutrality" but do not understand the heart of the matter are passing judgement- this is Congress.

You may like a lesson in IP jargon:
Key people:
ISP--Utility Co.--Data Transmission--You-- The Fed

For those who don't understand the technicalities, there is a difference between ISP and "The Internet". An ISP is an internet service provider that provides your portal to the internet. Your ISP provides the software and a home modem and DSLAM (server) that get bits and bytes over the phone or cable line (but does not necessarily set you up with a browser). Think of the internet as a fancier way of talking over the phone. More often than not, the ISP will foot the data transmission bill (read on); if you get a flat rate bill for internet service regardless of how much time you spent online, this is you. Think AOL or NetServe. As a limited-supply utility, the utility company is required by law to allow any ISP to operate on its phone lines- and give a good bulk rate for data transmission to the ISP. In fact, this applies to any ISP who asks. Essentially,ISP's can start up when they want, like a private business in a unregulated sector. While Congress is not proposing a Control Board, this proposal demonstrates either the lack of technical awareness or the desire to strongarm private endeavors. If you are offended that your ISP prioritizes web traffic you're not a part of, switch to another provider. Or take the can-do American approach- build your own system!

Caveat- If you happen to be somewhere that there is only one ISP, your rights to impartial service may be ensured by antitrust/monopoly policy. Check US and Sate code to determine if this applies to you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Better Grades

Ah, on the brink of my final AP. But unlike the others (Comp Pol and Music Theory), it seems as if every other American student will take an English AP. Will that raise the stakes or not?

As a student striving for a high score, I encourage testtakers who decide to give up to not cancel their scores. This lets the people who don't try get the 1's and 2's and those who try better scores. Plus, it'll save you ten bucks. If you don't want to let your college see your slack status, then by all means order a non-report of your score. But pls don't cancel.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Take the load, Cont.

I already received a tipoff on the quality of the food
Rockland BBQ. There was cole slaw, and we were each doled 1/4 of a decent sized chicken and ribs that slid easily off the bone. To top that, a pasta salad and dinner roll were piled on. Creamy cake and beverages were available at our discretion. The sumptuous feast occupied all of us at the table for a while. The chickpeas in the Baked Beans was an interesting aside and made good small talk. At this long table were a bunch of Sophomores at on periphery, Seniors decking the center and Juniors (including myself) at the end, topped of by a "7th form" graduate of 2009 who assisted with the baseball team this season. One main topic among the Seniors was the matter of the highlight Scholar- Athlete Award. I don't know the exact qualifications to receive it, but I heard that only 4 out of 40 Senoirs qualified for consideration. We talked about the surprise John Kelly had on his face back in '08 when he received the honor.

Each coach from fall, winter and spring had a reunion with his or her team. There were gaps in attendance to this fete, especially among the JV and Middle school-alt teams. For Winter coaches, "the snow cut 1/3 of our season at the most inopportune times" was a common theme. I was cited by Coach Defour ('06; UMD '09) for being a good sport. It was unexpected on my part. I suspected that I had that surprise John Kelly face on me at that time. The descriptions he gave made me blush a bit. I will say, though, that I was a rookie walk-on in August with no High School soccer experience. I and my teammates received my Certificate of Completion. "See you all on Varsity next year!". With five-plus graduating Seniors on the soccer team, there is room for a good portion of JV to advance. As more sports were listed, my high-caliber neighbors amassed trophies. There were enough on the table, from Breslin's to Blake's to Bragale's, to replicate the Forum Romanum.

This year, I participated in two sports for the first time. March is a bit tough for me. Last year I had Lifeguard training; this year I had play practice. I heard that the coach didn't take well to her top player, a Senior, kowtowing to G-Visitation for the first two weeks of tennis practice each season. The airline tradition of Senority First does not apply to meritocratic sports teams. There's a difference in leniency between the top player, and higher-seeded players (two of whom were also in the school play), and me. So, to keep it short, within the same week I was on the Track team.

I think I may have sent a bad tone by stepping out right before the Tennis presentation. Notwithstanding, I got back in time to see the awards given out. Sportsmanship award? Nah man! This here is the biggest arguer on the team. Knowing each USTA and league rule doesn't make you a gentleman. Our suspicious were shattered, though, when Ms. Lane gave Rob a trophy for his contributions. Some of us do not agree with putting Freshman on Varsity teams, much less middle school boys. In her description of him, she explained that he might have well been on Varsity since fifth grade. The call was six years, and Rob also got the four-year letterman plaque with the Fuzzy A.

In some Spring sports, one received a Cert of Completion. It's quite symbolic, though. Baseball and track still have champs to complete. You're not done 'til you're done.

Then there was the highlight of the evening: the scholar-athlete award. Some call it our version of the Rhodes Scholarship. Who would get it? NVD? Mikey? Denny? It was Rob. It was a change as much as Pope JPII. Award history had favored the more "jocky" type, with an edge for student gov't leaders, but this year not so much.

Which begs the question: Who will it be next year?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Take the load

It was 5pm when I had left the locker room. 2 hours before the Athletic Banquet meant enough time to finish that precalc practice exam. But,as I was to find out later, Mom was looking at it and kept it out of my backpack. So I settled for French. That was until a Reaganite Militarizer came into the lounge and put on "Top Guns". It was great. Let me clarify. Sortie action shots made the movie worthwhile. There were a few icky spots to fast forward through, but mostly clean and touching.
It was 7 pm too soon, and I had to forcefully tear myself away from the screen.
To be continued...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Exotic Trips by Car

A survey of my classmates indicated that nearly all of them have visited Canada, by land, sea or air. However, not so many have visited Mexico. I have to warn you that dawdling in many countries is different than taking a fling in USA north. The US State Department offers a pamphlet on things you should know before you travel down south. As a matter of fairness, border crossings in Canada have been secured in recent years to the level as they are down south, so no big surprise there. Don't see surprised if you see a chicken truck.
Pay the special protection fee- you'll need it

Don't drink tap. Some nice hotels have central water purifiers, but don't risk it!

Make sure that the currency exchange gives you recent coinage rather than devalued older money.

Keep a low profile and don't look out of place (DC people are pretty nice about this; cartels may not be so tolerant).

Navigating traffic circles in Mexico City is a futile task.

Read an official travel guide and do not goose step down there based on this information. Of course, booking an impulse trip to Cancun is a different matter.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stealth and Steam

Purple among the tide of blue, us Panthers found wedges among the hoards of runners. The mission was direct- 2 laps. For some, this was just a formal way of cooling down from a 1 or 2 mile jaunt. For me, it was a warming up to longer-distance adventures- next season. The fact that we were bunched didn't bode well, but after the shot went, we all found our places. I was looking for my 75% tempo that I would maintain for the first lap. Passing was a bit difficult, though, because of the crowd of runners. Lap 1- not too tired. Shout-out indicated 1 min 22 sec elapsed. Not bad for a metered pace. By our good training, we have gained the skill of passing in the final lap. Especially fun and devious is the stealth apporach. Tail your victim and pass late in the run. So, in the last 200, us in purple increased our pace and bolted in the last 150, because this was it for the season.
Now this is the fun part- I have not received an official reading. Thus, I estimate that I would have cut about 7-10 seconds from the second lap and therefore run a sub-2"40'. Not bad for my track record.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Great Sleep Proposal

Early to bed and Early to rise...(Ben Franklin)
is essential in the early nature of first bells at America's finest high schools.
Thus, I have a solution that I have finally been able to implement.
8 hours is the same whether 8-4 or 12-8 or whatnot. I propose that we sleep 10p-6
a. Of course, under normal operating condition, such devotion to shuteye would create an acute backlog of work. But, if those conditions were altered (college?), then such beautiful rest will be able to be obtained.
Getting up at 6a doesn't make going to bed at 10p too hard. But going to bed early on a late-rise Sunday is unnatural. However, we must not resign to sleepy and cranky Mondays. Just get up a little earlier on Sunday. That means going to bed early on Saturday and thus on Friday as well. This means people without nightlives? I guess so. Maybe we could cause a cultural change.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

College Board's Customers

An SAT last Saturday, and an AP tomorrow.
For the millions of students taking the battery of testing products, the people in Princeton are building a cash cow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Got a Job

"There is the f(x) club. You see, you need to be a function to get in this club. If you fail the vertical line test, you have to stay out on the street. Now inside this club there's a special room. VIP lounge. Call it what you want. But only one-to-one functions are allowed inside".- From MCAS (Mr. C------ Appreciation Society), a Facebook group.

On Friday, the last day of class instruction for Juniors, the Headmaster posted the list of leadership assignments. The plebicite-elected, Admin approved presidents, designated House Heads and social chairs. Up for grabs- publicity and treasurer. Later that day, up went page two, listing the school media positions. Yearbook was predictable; our in-house shutterbug and technoratus got his due. The RA- resident artist (specializing in pen drawings and dermal doodling) made it a team. THe key to the Priory Press (student publication) was given to the three people who I knew to have applied. That would be the stellar writer and SAT smasher (I've heard rumors of a perfect score!), a prolific web-writer, and myself. I admit, I am a prolific webwriter as well. So who's an Editor and who's Staff?
That's something we'll probably be discussing.

Happy Birthday, Augustus!
Happy May Day.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm An Affiliated Voter Now

Discussing communism is one thing. It's a different matter when you're discussing communism with the student from China. In Communist China, membership in the Party is dispensed on an exclusivity basis. In fact, only 7% of the population is a card carrying member. In Comparative Politics, we learned that some young Chinese die to be members. You must love communism to be a member, though. Such an affiliation can put you on the US blacklist. The Party's less ideological now than it was in Mao days. In fact, there are now businessmen in the club. We call this hypocriticism. Fortunately, our student sees a future in a free world enterprise and does not expect to be a technocrat. Being a member of the Party, he says, doesn't guarantee you the best job anymore.

In America's multiparty system, parties vie for membership. Exclusive parties don't work. Maybe they used to in the 19th century, but not today. From my laptop, I can join any number of political parties, from the GOP to the DNC to Larouche's cult or the Greens. I just did join one, and it only took about 2 minutes.
They fiddled around with the idea about being 18 in the disclaimer, but they didn't ask anything of it. If you can register to vote prior to 18, then so goes.
Some day, I'll come out of the woodwork on which one I joined.

In support group:
"Yes, I have something to admit."
"We're behind you all the way"
"I'm a member of the ********** party.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


2 gymnasiums, 2 full sized fields and a lax area.
There's probably a jousting area that I didn't get to see. This is Landon School, on Wilson Lane in Bethesda, MD. Years ago, I was at this athletic-heavy school for a tour. Now I was here for track.

2" 45' was all the time that I took to round the track twice (800m total), but I could feel those 8 seconds. I promised myself that I'd give my all in the final 200m. I did; I passed and charged. I knew today would be better; I relieved myself, removed a retainer, tightened my laces, and did not have a cold rain on the parade. Yet, my lungs were pressing against the ribcage. I suspected I ruptured a few capillaries; I think that explains the metallic taste that I had internally after the run.

Was it really 7pm? It was. But I was home by 8pm. Sometimes, track meets are held- locally.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

School Concert

A novel concept: the choral and orchestral concerts were combined this season. This was done for a number of reasons: larger audience, less dates on the calendar, etc. I noticed that first point as we circled around the campus to find a parking spot coming in. The two sections were separated by an intermission in which the orchestras prepped up. All the ensembles played well, and the semi-pro Jazz ensemble rocked the house as usual. As a special tribute, the Hearn brothers (with Brendan, the cellist, a graduating Senior) played a virtuoso Irish jig. Although I'm a bit peeved about the refreshments being finished before the end of the orchestral performances, the sum that I did have before playing was gorgeous. It seems to be a great way to close an Alumni weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not for money but for glory

Amazon the web retailer has started to offer cash to bloggers who drop the name of specific products in their posts. The pay rate is based on how many click-throughs you get from your blog to an embedded link to Amazon. This, of course, causes partiality which some would say is hazardous to the free-minded world. That said, if I were to sell promotions on this blog, then I would clearly identify the pay-to-say sections. But from my point of view, it'd take a lot (and not pennies or dimes)for me to sell out my audience.

(note that name-dropping in content-enbedded ads is different that a general sponsorship or advertising that is kept separate from the journalistic material).

Friday, April 23, 2010

The You-Can't-Join-Club

How does a prestigious club become prestigious. Is it exclusivity? If so, then does it mean the lower the invitation rate is (if there is one at all), the higher the response rate will be? In a prestigious and secretive Facebook group that I am in, new members are discussed before being sent an invitation. Turns out, the invitation acceptance rate is a clean 100%.So then, does being exclusive imply prestige? No, not as cliques are involved. Could selectiveness be used as a marketing tool? It sure has been and is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hot Water

Yesterday was Secretaries' day. But most officials consider this day "Administrative Professionals' Day", for the sake of professionalization of every career path, or just for greedy managers who want in. Else, it could just be that Secretaries are synonymous with pensions-disappearing.
To the satisfaction of "working girls" (quoting the 1991 Carly Simon movie), there is now (and has been for a while) a day called "Take your Daughter to work day. Egalitarian fathers, or mothers, bring their daughters to work so they can see that their opportunities aren't limited to secretary, stewardess, nurse or teacher. Now I remember the grade-school debate about TYDTWD: why couldn't the boys take the day off from school? (One boy did; he was ridiculed for the rest of the year). So, in a bow to gender equality, more and more boys took part in (and ruined?) the tradition. Today's Earth Day as well, and being the busybody that I and all my friends are, were unable to attend the festivities on the Mall. Thus, the isolation between us working conformists and environmentalists with leisure time grows.

Take this to the typing pool and leave in the 20th century.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Retrocession: Modern Precedent

Some say that to think that Maryland would ever want to take back DC is crazed talk. There is no Civil War, and lots of people actually live, today, in Maryland's part of DC. Thus, there is to be only one big city in Maryland, not two. But the State that is is not gobbling the whole city, but nibbling it from the tip. No one seems to ever think of this friendly precedent: For one reason or another, the Wilson Bridge from Oxon Hill, MD, to Alexandria, VA, was built so it crossed across DC's very southernmost tip. All that is at this tip is water and an apparent sandbar. When a new bridge was built last decade, Maryland urged the DC council to cede the part of the city's aqueous holding that was under the bridge. That way, neither VA or MD could ask DC to pitch in to the maintenance fund. This change may have affected the residency of several bald eagles and sea gulls, but, as for humans, no one maybe except the guy who opperates the drawbridge.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fling on Mt. St. Alban's

After a few minutes of door-checking, my mother and I came across a medieval-looking door at St. Alban's in Washington. Inside was the party we were looking for. At St. Thomas, I had been spoiled with these sort of social events. Alumni get-togethers with the choirboys present and obedient as live entertainment, and, on some rowdy occassions, napkin. But the older I've gotten, the more I've got to contribute to these get-togethers. As a chorister, all I could say was yessir, nomaam and dunno. It's nice that the choir came to see me. Yes. As part of the Development program, the choir has been travelling on 2-day junkets. But they particularly like the DC area: Overall, a nice place to be, lots of alumni, lots of high-church families to share their homes with the choir. Having read the prep-school analysis book "Preparing for Power", I was particularly attuned to what was going on. How little could you eat? I had one macaroon. How long could you talk? COuld you gracefully exit a conversation? Any faux pas? So, it works out for both of us.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Only 50 years til retirement?

A firend, then 14, said that you're old at 17, not 16. I sure feel different than I did last year at this time. Nevertheless, I received a great outpour of encouragement on Facebook. Everyone knew the date.
4/17. Atticus Sawatzki's birthday. My parents did, too. My mom had something to say: "And me? I was the one who did work that day."

I didn't make a big deal about this birthday. I don't know why; it could possibly be due to entitlement fatigue. At age 13 I was able to put my life on the internet. At age 14, I was allowed by law to work, at 15, get a joint card account, sit in an airplane exit row and be a lifeguard (by US standards). At 16, a library of congress card, a motor vehicle learner's licence and most adult benefits. Some of these benefits are leagues deep in the law. Why'd I want to start riding a bike helmetless? Or ride in the back of a speeding truck, unsecured?

But about the anticlimax- it's because it's on a Saturday! I don't have to worry about bruised arms until Monday.

Thank you, Tom and Kathy, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tax Death Spiral

Sometimes, a politician will decide to raise taxes for whatever purpose. This is done early in the term, so folks will forget Indeed, what happened in Maryland happened to be a smart move: The bottom fell out mid-term, and no one's discussing raising taxes. But when your neighbor Virginia manages to keep taxes low through fiscal responsibility, that's when you know you don't have a captive population. Indeed, tax records presented by the right-leaning Washington Examiner indicate that over 100 millionaires have left one county of Maryland for Virginia, presumably, since the instatement of the populist-based millionaire tax. What do you do when the result doesn't work as intended? Hold the tax rate? Bad idea. Raise it? There goes the Tax Death Spiral. As taxes rise, more and more people will flee. Then, when you start taxing the middle class- whizz bang, there goes your neighborhood. Thus, what remains is a failed state with a chronically ill budget. Witness any big city in the last part of last century.

So what do you do when you become the maverick of tax increases? Lower them. While that means less revenue in the short run, this is the only redeeming path to a decent state future. This applies to all sorts of taxes, including real estate, income, sales tax and any fees one thinks of imposing.

Friday, April 9, 2010


What a rough week back! At least by Monday night I was back in the academic spirit- sort of. It took til about last night to get that get-go fervor back into me. As for chem test, well, if it takes 2 days to fill out your index card cheat-sheet (vs the usual 45 min session), then I should have taken it as a cue. Oh well. Fortunately I get a second shot backed up by an alternative third shot. In retrospect, I coul've kept a 1-hour-per night study hall standard. But I was burned out over break. The week was occupied much by sports practice, but c'est la vie. Think of this- now, over the weekend, I have all the homework time I need!I've been ferociously working on a play for the VSA young playwright's competition. I'm trying to do a decent job, and not to rip off too much from my classmates' life experiences. What I mean is not to pull a Marcel Duchamp and skirt work to make a point. If I wanted to make a point, I think I'd put some effort into it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Great Vigil of Easter

I took my first trip to the local parish's GVE (Great Vigil of Easter) service. It was a big deal. The service started at 9; when I checked my watch after service, it was past midnight. We had run the whole gamut. I've done GVE's before, but none as late or as lengthy or spiritually intense. Think of this: Now how did a friend from St. Thomas Choirschool land at our same church? "The music world's really small. So, naturally, I happened upon St. Paul's". It is a special place that offers three choral services each Sunday, and one of few US Churches to offer weekly treble Evensong. Said a former classmate from NewYork now at Georgetown Univ., "That is the loudest congregation I've heard". At St. Thomas in New York, the parishoners let the choristers do the singing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh busy week

There are two camps that the school students fall into: Going on vacation or doing lots of work. And by going on vacation they mean actually up-and leaving by car or plane: one more day in Washington and they're on the work train. Seeing that I'm still in Washington,one can conclude this break doesn't feel like a vacation. Internship and summer program apps, job apps, vague homework assignments, you name it.

Mon- Orthodontist (braces off- yeah!), Nat'l Geographic- special film on Terra Cotta Soldiers (tix for exhibit sold out), Orthodontist for retainer.
Tues- Jog, movie @ Nat'l geographic on shipwreck research, Church rehersal @715p.
Wed- Supreme Court Marshal's list invitation to court hearing, CPR renewal@ 5p.
Thu- Do money moving with savings act. b/c interest rate is so low, Lifeguard Backboarding review, CPR Class part 2.
At least I've been getting enough sleep this week!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Position Paper
What Happened

I did something foolish on Wednesday night- stay up late to finish a position paper. First off, it wasn't a real work of art. It was enough to scrape by. Thursday night- oh then I realized I shouldn't have done that. Just try then to get a coherent sentence out of me. I probably turned the Dais off when he banged the gavel to end my speech and I squelched- "What?" The topic: "Virtual Nuclear States". Vague. Making details would certainly take time and effort. It sure did.

Friday, I felt bad for myself. I had come home late, did a tiny bit of homework, woke up school-time (what feels like "before the rooster crows"). The other delegations? Sleep in (to about 7:30am) and take excursions. I suspect the other regional schools let their MUN kids take Friday off. As a goodbye surprise (before spring break), I had the joy of an English test and taking "special delivery" status in the Ottermobile. Well, I had my fun the weekend before.

Friday? Not bad. A schedule fluke meant I came in late to hear a pro-proliferation professor preach his controversial view. I had to get in the game. Sleep-shorted or not, this was the right time. I found a way to become the leading signatory of a paper- write my own. I handed this, written on a 5x7 canary pad in pencil, to the Chair. "Well, can you make it nicer?". We had a swell classroom in the evening- the room in the School of Media Building was set up to replicate a cutting-edge newsroom you see on TV. GW's big on emulating 'real life'. I got my sentences straight, and rushed to finish transcribing that working paper of my own. It was not too long later before there were 8 working papers on the table. That was too many in any seasoned MUNner's opinion. As a diplomat, I merged my paper with that of Spain's. A lot of it was redundant, and, as the college kid had just spent 30 minutes typing my'comprehensive paper' into the computer, must have annoyed the Dais.

Saturday? Great! This was crunch time. I understood that any prize or commendation hinged on this day, and I respected this fact. I tried not to do anything outrageous to annoy the Chair, and I think I succeeded that day. Basically, we spent all six committee hours repping the paper and making it digestible to the most countries as possible. Clauses of mine came and went. Seeing that the main authors (sponsors) of papers were spending 'quality time' with the Dais, I decided that I had to boost my role as a non-nuclear state and make my contributions seem, well, important. I felt I did the best I could. Next topic, I assessed myself, I would dominate. The vote came late in the day. I spoke eloquently against closing the list without wasting my minute. In a committee of 80 with an inclusive Chair, you don't get a lot of speaking time. Especially if it's DISEC and you don't have nukes. The vote came. Res. 1.1 cleared the hurdle. I was not enthusiastic about it, but sold my vote for two votes on the Spain/Ireland paper (1.4). Res 1.2, written by a classmate (Slovakia- M.C.) to get brownie points, also passed, albeit being a short addendum 'to any suitable paper'. Res. 1.3, was weeded of conflicts with already-passed 1.1. The cruel, pro-proliferation paper, failed, to my pleasure. Res 1.4, my 'baby', won yea vs nay, but failed because of the high number of abstainers (38 yea, 32 nay, 11 abstainers and some who didn't vote). Hey, they were afraid to say no! Res. 1.5, Portugal (classmate's- YO-A) paper and Res. 1.6 failed as well. Time was up. I had done alright. Our delegation as a whole rocked the committee.

Sunday? I was on fire!! The stars were lined up for me. Every Palm Sunday I've been alive I've been at church. I didn't want to break the record of 15/15, but realized that the non-faithful college students running the show had me in a tough spot. 9am start for committee vs 10am on Sunday. Deliberate, I thought. But 7:30am mass at my parish just off of GW worked just fine. I felt- delivered. I used a Starbucks gift card I had to buy a Pike's place to wash down the sugary aftertaste of the fundraiser donut I had just bought and took the pretentious white cup to committee with me. We were ready to move to topic B- India vs Pakistan re Kashmir. Within 10 minutes the Japanese delegate had working paper 2.1. The Chair was convinced it was pre-written. Ireland strategic victory! But the Dais looked at it. It was rejected for the mention of "Santa Claus". I called for a 5 minute Unmoderated Caucus. I could then blow my paper through as WP 2.2. I collected signatures- I needed 16. The Oman decided to help me with the paper. He was intellegent about weeding out things that DISEC was not authroized to do- military withdraws, for example. We also didn't have to worry about funding. That would be a great relief for me (I added bonuses for all those nations that voted yea on the Resolution). Japan removed Santa claus and reintroduced. The chair swiftly moved to voting procedure. I motioned. "Wait, there's another one coming" "That was not a point or order, Ireland." The prim demeanor of the room was devolving. Portugal put on sunglasses to complement a cream colored suit to become the "Great African Warlord". Oman, rushing to get brownie points, continued to push that paper of mine. I know that feeling all too well. Voting procedure. At this point, one could only stall Darth Vader with an Unfriendly Amendment. Girl Scout Cookies for all were unaminously (let DPR Korea- our own R.S.) approved. To all those who downvoted the Resolution and promoted Independence of Kashmir would get big cash payouts from the UN 'general fund'. Using the only bit of Irish political position in existence, I required that no lard would be used in cookies distributed on Fridays and that states in violation of this would cede their batch to Rome. The amendment was shot down (what, they don't want money?). Both India and Pakistan nuked Ireland. Ah, you know you did something wrong if that happens to you. Then for superlatives, I was called "most likely to become a politician". Oh well. I was also called the best leprechaun. Wink.

After committee, I refilled my Decaf coffee. They gave me a new cup, too, on account of Swine Flu- all for 55 cents. Some other classmate-MUNners came by: "Say, Deng Xiaoping (M.McC.), if you won some award would't you have to share it with everyone?" "Theoretically". The slideshow- it was great. STAMUN (our delegation) didn't get a lot of awards. Except for our committee. We took the lower rungs by force. Malaysia (CMcC) and the man dressed for success (Portugal- YO-A) were commended. Ireland wasn't cited, neither was Res. 1.2's author and key voice Slovakia. Deng won his award. As an involved fan, our Faculty Advisor noted the trend of less awards. "But, it's not about the awards". Slovakia on the UNDP (not M.C.) promoted his traditional views on human reproductive health. Abstinence, Chastity. Not incredibly popular among the young, but the man deserves a commendation by our school's Youth Christian Fellowship Group. I had my beliefs: Travel cutbacks by other schools because of budget issues. WAMUNC feels a need to make as many long-distance travellers feel welcome. They know we'll be back- but the school from Honduras? So here's another year to STAMUN! "Next year, the game plan will be different". No matter how much I dwell on the topic of awards, remember, Model UN isn't about awards. Initials were given to protect conferenceers' privacy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kairos, Open and Shut

I have been up for the past 38 hours, save a 3-hour and 1-hour nap. This is what you do when you're at one of these certain events shrouded in secrecy. Actually, we had the opportunity to get a 'sleep', an offer I did not take. I'd say more, but I don't want to ruin any surprises for future generations of Kairoseers.That said, I strongly encourage all sophomores to come. In fact, depending on my level of conviction, I will zealously recruit you all to go!
LTF man!!!
This page has been censored beyond belief.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Off again, half past 8.

Four Days. That's the time I'll be away. After all, the Kairos experiment seems to be more than a build-up- to the encouragement of self reflection. There will be a bus, and one that has an undercarriage for luggage- one of those hoity-toity coach buses. We also brought in snacks- for "long, discussion-filled nights". And on earth I've been asked to bring Crisco! Won't Sterno do just fine? Or, I hope he just means "Nabisco". As a practical matter, bags needed to be packed. No punchlist. I've done "away from family" trips before, up to two weeks' length, in another continent. But there was an item-by-item checklist! So, we'll see how the packing goes. One note- admin didn't tell us to stay under 50 lbs. Then there are the subjective things. Is there a gift shop? Rest stops? (btw I'm not sure what state we're going to! 3 hours can mean anywhere from New Jersey to West Virginia!) Any faculty members riding along? Better be a sycophant. Religion department? Pack Pieper, or the Catechism. History teacher? The Cold War by Gaddis seems fair. My plans for going to bed early? Squat! I have four days of internet social life to do, violin-playing, and so on.

This Entry Passed by Student Life Censors. All Revealing Details Have been removed and Replaced.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One Long Week

What a week. If you're hooked to my blog, you'll see that something strange happened this week (hint: no posts!). There was a lot of play practice, a lot of assignments to pass through the chute, and SAT prep. So, here's a little story: Wednesday, second period. I settle down for ethics class, and in comes a classmate from French IV. "Doug, Atticus. Test." "Huh?", we muttered as we threw our books into our bookbags and quick-stepped to the test (uhh- those middle schoolers are so loud when they move from class to class!). But our messenger got more than us- a hysterical department head to pull him from Chem class. National Exam. French, 2010. Level 4.
The next day was the latin test (didn't take it); the Spanish (not taking it) will be next week. Homeworkwise, there was not much in the past week; upcoming SAT, school play, sports try-out, an absent english teacher (who did not forget to leave work for us!). My mantra has been, for the past busy month, "March 15". That day, I am free from the Play, free from tryouts, free from SAT prep. That day is coming soon.

DOn't forget to Spring Forward- and check your safety devices' batteries.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sing and Run in the Snow

In spite of all the February snow, the tennis season intended to start on time. This, however, could not be done with three inches of the white stuff on the ground.
So the first two days were indoors.
But what do you do if you're activities are overlapped? Fade out, say hello, excuse yourself and dissapear into wood work.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Take that, SG.

Feb 26.
The festivities were toned down a bit; the student gov't appeared complacent. Don't some of them remember Pimlico? Was there something special that we had to anticipate? A DC Public School was added to the tournament roster, with all connotations and denotations (a sure defeat by a much more athletic team?)
I was caught outside at the starting buzzer; I was out on an info mission- play practice that day or not? Tied at nine; 9-19 at the quarter; 23-33 at the half. While losing, the situation was not hopeless. Not one bit. The Panthers pulled up as close as 1 point to the opponent, Potomac's "Heights" school. The lead disappeared with foul shots and quick layups; we slipped on fundamentals, too. But the spread disappeared again to 4 points with 3 minutes left in the game. But by 1 minute the game was written. There was 9 points between the teams. From second place last year, we had fallen that far.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Admissions Office

Your Brag Sheet displays some impressive ladership abilities.

We wish that your GPA would be a bit hogher, but you are on track to have a stellar semester.

Now you say you're doing an SAT prep course.

Your app package and heart seem to be in different places.

Tell us more about Choirschool.

Yes, that's true. You come back another week for the SAT II's. SAT I's gotten too long to put both on the same day.

Let me interject...

Even WPI demands more of applicants.


The college want to know: what can you contribute to their school? That's a make-or-break deal. They need people to fill their clubs.

Embrace your talents. Sell yourself for who you are.

No, we have to get that number on your transcript changed.

Is that really what you want to do?

They'll forgive you on that.

If you are really serious about it, you'll need an Independent Study project or some thing or other.

A humanities sort of guy?

That was how it was 30 years ago.

Here, take this note to class with you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lankering at Lakeforest

"It's about 4 minutes up this road, no more."
This was the distance from a violin lesson in Derwood to Lakeforest Mall. I heard things about the place, that it is an 'urbanized hangout'. I held that fear as we entered the parking lot. There was a penetrating mall cop presence- none that I saw in upscale malls like the Tysons Galleria, nor downscale ones like Silver Spring's City Place. There were empty storefronts. Looking up thorough the prismatic shaped skylight, there were several brown patches on the ceiling, something I took to be as neglect. Mall cops on foot, in uniform, on Segways. The marble tile floor, however, was still spic and span; the escalators worked and looked appealing to ride.

What we had come here to do was to see a special Chinese New Year themed exhibit. There was a small set-up on the first floor, visible from the terraced second story. That was all? Alas, there was loud music, of the traditional kind. It sounded...far eastern. There must be more to the festivities. In the central atrium, display tables and a main stage was set up. There was a performance by what seemed to be an after-school kung-fu troop. There was soul, and physical presence. These festivities were much more than a matter of political correctness. (Tomorrow is the event's last day).

Addendum: The empty storefronts and splotches on the ceiling were concentrated in one wing only; the rest of the mall was quite alive and well. Now what was up with all the mall cops?

A mall on its way out:
1) Increased security presence
2) Empty Storefronts
3) A disappearance of printed media and credit card offers
4) Discount retailers (unless it was an outlet mall to begin with)
5) Fountains turned off
6) Escalators not functional
7) Turned-off lights
8) Emptiness; a general 'dead' feeling

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tromp d'oeil

The LP record, for some, is the epitome of elegance in recorded music. The precise ebb and flow of sound waves is replicated on the vinyl disk. This infiniteness of possibility of color and tone is somewhat lost in digital recording. The smooth transitions are made into rugged bits and bytes.

The same concept applies to printed music. No detailed music score can truly capture expression and intonation. The precise feeling of the length of a note is subjective; rather than the objectively printed meter. This is left to the artist's interpretation.

I learned this on Sibelius musicwriting software. My rhythms that came to the PC through the midi keyboard were cut and rearranged and approximated into a piece that lacked full expression. Yes, surely, the music score can be improved. But this is a system to which we are familiar.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

815 V St NW

"The commissioner has decided there will be no such rock-bop in this town. This so called rock and roll is detrimental to our youth". By Mayor of Camden, NJ, 1952

By today's standards, society complained about the color of the nurse's gown. Today, there was plenty of hip swinging, crow-screeching, and syncopated beats. The first group I saw was, in my opinion, detrimental to youth. Their 'music' sounded like sitting on the Dulles Airport jumbo jet runway with a drowsy sort of side effect from the cough med and a henchman for sadism's sake. If it was artistic at all it was in the sense that it conveyed the sense of angst and pain upon the listener. The lyrics were anti-social when intelligible over the grind; for example, a girl axing her family (that was an euphemism, too). There was rampant head bobbing by the 'musicians' that disregarded anything about cerebral science, and the volume level most likely exceeded OSHA regulations.

Why was I here? My friend and 3-course classmate was performing tonight. And about Kairos? No problem. You'll be back by then. Indeed, Kairos went out with a bang- a great liturgy, incense and all.

The our guys were up. There was a trumpeter (GN), percussionist (LW-M), vocalist (RC), and two guitarists (BH and CH) . "I've been here since 9am,(did they get to go to church today?)and I'm ready to leave!" Then the song starts. I never heard Rob sing in that way; it sounded like it was from the rogue, a sound bursting from the chains of tradition. But it was refreshing; unlike the goth metal band, this music had well-written lyrics, and the format of the music felt like what we learned in music theory class: Rock and Roll = Steady Beat + Chord Progression. It was sort of Elvis-y, tradition rock style that their parents would have played at home. There was, again, that song of leaving. There was one that praised conformism. It was actually sincere. There was a love song, not mushy, though. Names don't matter to me much, but they are ID'ed as KSD. I don't know what that stands for.

When will the CD or MP3 set be cut?

(One to none performed after; anecdotal reports suggest that their drumist is quite talented, if not a Ladies man). 9:30 club, 2/14/10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Ag Preserve

City of 2050.
Washington Area real estate is inflated in price for a few reasons: desireablility, and increasing scarceness of developable property. If trends keep up (which they have even amidst a supposed construction slowdown), cities will extend straight out to the-farm. Yes, next to the skyscraper is farmland. No discernable suburbs.
But what about the farm? It's part of the Agricultural Preserve meant to protect farmland, wilderness, and wildlife. It also protects real estate prices by squeezing demand. It's a suburban version of 'historic district'. Even now, one can travel from pure farmland and 'the forest' to an urban, high-rise environment in 15 minutes. I remember when I realized the quick change: I was coming home from "Science City" on the tech corridor, cut though the woods as a short cut, drove by some estates doubtlessly owned by lawyers and Beltway Bandits. Then, a few traditional style suburbs, and then the high rises. 15 minutes. It made a profound impact on me (Cliche :)). Just imagine being a city person, but your neighbor is a cow.

Some prospective Detroit investors plan to use this method to revitalize the city, or, at least, make a quick buck.

Peace with you!