So yes, it’s officially been a Long Time since I posted. As a result, this one’s going to be big.
Deal with it.
First item of business (now almost a month old) is Science Bowl. After throwing two teams together of quizbowl nerds and science geek seniors, we spent two days a week this semester practicing old rounds. With a definite feeling of impending doom, we headed off to Pellissippi State Technical College for the state tournament. To compensate for Lucas quitting, we adjusted the teams to try and make my team (which, by a freak accident of paperwork, was MLK II) as strong as possible.
To our surprise, not one, but both of our teams totally owned that tournament. We were two of the six undefeated teams at the end of the morning preliminaries. In the playoffs, we pulled off such feats as beating both of the Oak Ridge teams, who won the championship last year. After winning the first two games in the playoffs, my team had a bye, so we watched the other team play McCallie, a prep school in Chattanooga whom we had beaten in the preliminary rounds. They however lost, which meant that we got to play McCallie. Although we had the upper hand on the easier questions because of our speed and quizbowl experience, the further into the tournament we got, the harder the questions got. We lost to them also, going into the losers bracket of the double elimination tournament.
At this point, MLK I was in position to play for 3rd and 4th place. They beat Oak Ridge II again, meaning that they got to play us. We beat them, although I’m not entirely sure if we actually beat them or if they let it happen. Then, we advanced on to play McCallie yet again for the championship. Although we held our own for a while, they had a depth of knowledge that we just couldn’t match. We ended up taking home 2nd and 3rd place, which is really quite respectable, given that we were a new team.
The other cool thing about Science Bowl is that it’s funded by the Department of Energy. So, unlike most tournaments which our trying to make money, this one was trying to shower it on us. The trophies were a good 3 feet tall, and every player got a bag full of science toys—3-D puzzles and the like. In fact, DoE even covered transportation and lodging. All we had to pay for was dinner on the way there.
Moving on to more old stuff: our internet connection. For a while we’d been experiencing a problem where our cable modem would reboot itself every 10 or 15 minutes, leaving us without an internet connection for about 30 seconds. Yes, I know, big frickin’ deal, but it’s annoying. We had the Comcast people come out, take a look, and supposedly fix the problem, only to have it start again the next day. Finally, I convinced Dad that it was probably our cable modem, not the line, and he finally caved and bought a new one.
This calls for a story of its own. Comcast people are really idiots. It’s not enough to hook up the cable modem to the cable line. They have to match the modem with your account, presumably to make sure you’re not stealing bandwidth and all that good stuff. So after hooking up the modem, we call Comcast and give them the serial number and MAC address of the modem. They then put us on hold for quite literally 20 minutes while they go and do their magic. I honestly don’t know what anybody could possibly do with a serial number and a MAC address that would take 20 minutes. Dad’s theory?
“Oh, she’s gone to get a cup of coffee.”
Whatever. I’m done with homework and want an internet connection.
“Dad, it’s been 15 minutes.”
“They must’ve had to make another pot.”
After we got the new modem installed, we didn’t have any problems with spontaneous disconnections, but I did have a problem where it seemed like packets were getting dropped. I’d load a webpage and sit there for a minute and nothing would happen. I’d try again, and it loaded without trouble. I’m thinking that somehow my BitTorrent connection (whose bandwidth usage was supposed to be limited both ways) was saturating my connection. Once I finished downloading my stuff with it, I killed it, and the problem went away. My computer really is just stupid.
Close your eyes, and imagine that I can do transitions. You do not notice the lack of writing skills as I move from topic to completely unrelated topic. It appears seamless. The connection between Comcast and school is undeniable.
So the past two weeks have officially been building up to Spring Break. And by building up, I mean we haven’t done anything. Rather, I don’t suppose we haven’t done anything; rather, I just am very good at not doing anything. In economics, for example, I generally do my homework within the first 5 minutes of class, and nap for the rest (or do Sudoku puzzles). In English, we’ve been reading poetry again. Like I told Ms. Howell, “It’s like AP Latin, only you don’t have to translate!” Chinese, on the other hand, has been rather annoying, because we just finished up with the chapter on shopping. There was lots and lots of vocabulary, because the lesson covered clothing, colors, and money (formal and informal terms). More on recent developments in Chinese later.
Of particular note was the fact that Vanderbilt was on Spring Break last week, meaning that Xue and I spent 3rd period all week sleeping on Mrs. Broyles’s awesome couch. I also went to orchestra every day, which was good, since Friday was Concert Festival, the annual event where MLK gets straight Superior ratings because our music programs are just awesome.
Speaking of schools, I got a very pleasant surprise last Thursday: a letter from Stanford. I was really taken completely by surprise; I had heard of other people getting early notices, but that was only from Vanderbilt, and they were only sending them out to minority students. The bad news is that Stanford’s Admit Weekend is the same weekend as TJCL State Convention. And I really don’t care how idiotic people think I am, I’m definitely going to TJCL. In any case, MIT is putting their decisions online Saturday, so hopefully it’ll be a moot point.
Interestingly, I’m not as nervous about MIT now than I was for EA decisions. I honestly don’t know why.
I thought about putting a really bad transition about college and coffee here, but I decided to spare your eyes the pain.
As some of you know, we have had an automatic espresso machine at our house. My parents got it for themselves for their 25th anniversary. It’s one of the really automatic ones, as in it held its own beans and one button did everything from grind to espresso. However, Mom was talking to tech support for some reason, and they told her that they were taking the machines of our model back for a one-time only repair. Mom was of course skeptical, but it turns out that they discovered a flaw in the wiring. They had submitted it to one of those consumer agencies, but couldn’t call it a recall until whatever agency it was said so. In order to get a head start on the influx of faulty machines, they started taking them back for “one-time repairs.” However, they also offered the option of upgrading the machine to a more recent model. Mom finally went for it.
So now we have our new espresso machine that’s even more one-button than before. It has three presets for coffee, and two of those have an automatic doubler function (i.e. one button for a single shot, another for a double). But wait, there’s more! It also comes with an attachment for the steamer that automatically froths or steams the milk, which it siphons in from a cup sitting next to the machine. The timing on the steamer can be programmed as well, meaning that the end result is a two-button cappuccino. It’s really nifty. And since I’m a good blogger and support companies that I like, it’s the Capresso S8 (the link is to the S9—they only have the S7 and the S9 on the website).
On the night of Friday the 3rd I got an IM from Scott St. Marie, Ohio JCL President, inviting me to their convention, which was March 10-12. That was sort of a surprise. Thanks to the magic of e-mail, I had all the necessary approvals and plane tickets by that Wednesday.
The convention was a lot of fun. I spent most of the time with the OJCL officers, many of whom I already knew from Nationals, and with the OSCLers, whom I also knew from Nationals. Actually, since the OJCL officers were mostly seniors, they were good friends with the OSCLers, so we didn’t really fraternize with the OJCLers that much. I helped put out a OJCL Convention Ear, which, for those who haven’t been to Nationals, is the mid-convention satirical publication typically put out by the SCLers. We were originally going to do an issue of the Torch, but the OJCL Editor decided he didn’t want the Torch associated with the complete mockery we made of the JCL. Good times, good times.
We also played several games of Mafia, which gets much more interesting the later at night it is. The best game was when our god stacked the deck to make sure the mafia would win.
Next random transition (I’ll just say it for you—if I’d just update more often, each topic could get its own post and I wouldn’t have to come up with bad transitions)…
On Tuesday Béla Fleck and the Flecktones played Live in Studio C, a show at our NPR station that features local artists. Since Mom spends way too much time answering phones during their fund drives, she has connections with most of the people at WPLN, so we got to go and watch. We basically got a private performance. Really, really awesome. Based on the songs they played, their new CD should be rather awesome as well. Again, link happiness is a donation of PageRank to things of awesomeness.
Last but not least, I said I’d come back to Chinese. Since we finished Lesson 9 on Wednesday, we’re spending the rest of the week doing Chinese calligraphy. Calligraphy, as in with a brush and everything. And, since our wellness teacher is out of town for the rest of the week, Xue and I are skipping 1st period to go and get more practice. Today I spent most of 1st period trying to get the horizontal and vertical strokes down. By the end of 2nd period, I was doing a little better with the feel and flow of things, although the only character that I managed to write to my satisfaction was 人, or rén, which means person. I tried to add an extra horizontal stroke for 大 (dà, big—think of a person standing with their arms spread to show just how big something is—that’s the picture) and completely screwed everything up. Mrs. Whittaker is letting us buy the brushes we use afterwards if we want, and Xue said she could give me some ink, so I think I’ve found a new hobby for Spring Break. It’ll be much more productive than sleeping, in any case, and Mrs. Whittaker says that calligraphy is like meditation if it’s done right.
I’ll post pictures if I ever manage to write anything worth seeing. That being said, don’t count on seeing any pictures anytime soon.
And now, since it’s the day before Spring Break and I have no homework, I’m off to bed.