This entry is going to get me caught up, like it or not.
First topic: Aaron’s bass.
For Science Olympiad, Aaron got to do the Sound of Music contest, where you have to bring in a homemade instrument. So Dad made this washtub bass for him to play.
However, only the strings could be from a real instrument, so Dad had to take off the actual bass tuning machines he had installed and replace them with something quite literally made of nuts and bolts. Then, since Dad couldn’t figure out how to read our electronic tuner, I spent hours and hours telling him “higher” or “lower.” Of course, whenever I did, he had to get two giant vice grips to make any adjustment.
This made for a much more interesting story when it happened, which was around the last week of March. Anyway, enjoy the pictures. The second is the top side of the tuning…mechanism, and the third is the bottom.
Next story: quizbowl, specifically the state quizbowl championship.
This was amazingly awesome, because we kicked so much ass. We were almost completely undefeatable. We had 500 or 600 points on almost every round, including the ones against Knoxville West and Ezell-Harding, the two teams I was most afraid of. The only round we lost was to Rossview. It was one of those annoying things where we were more or less neck in neck the whole time. The problem with playing Rossview is that we both know the same information.
Anyway, we won 1st place overall by a landslide. I’m pretty sure that we could have put our buzzers down for the last round, or at least part of it, and still won. Just for extra fun, Dallas, Will, and I all made the State All-Star Team, a purely honorary list of 8 players in the state, voted on by the coaches. We each got our own little trophies for that, in addition to the giant one we got for winning.
Next story: I have a job
I started working at a web development company called GoDesign. As I explained to Connie, they’re “like sitemason, only they work in the languages I know.” Working at Sitemason (or Monster Labs) was lots of fun, but their major products were all written in Perl, and I’ve never been quite able to get Perl.
Not only that, but I’ve got a big project. I don’t want to say what it is, because someone else could probably go and get it on the market before me, but it should be cool, and it should have a pretty large market.
Other cool things about working there: they do all their project management online, so I do all of my work from home whenever I want. Also, they have a few designers in house, which means I don’t have to do any design work (and trust me—that’s a blessing for anyone that has to use my apps).
The head programmer at GoDesign sent me an e-mail about a month ago about a PHP Users Group meeting, so I went to it. It was really cool to talk to other developers; I honestly had no idea there was so much serious development going on in Tennessee. Also, Chris Shiflett, who’s a big security guy in the PHP world, was at the meeting, so we got to talk about some security stuff that’s definitely influenced the way I develop (i.e., I think about security now, instead of ignoring it). The other cool thing was that I had more experience than the other people there with both WordPress and Ruby on Rails, so I was able to contribute to the conversation. Made me feel all special and stuff.
Next story: TJCL Convention
It was generally awesome, like always. And like always, I pretended to be a state officer even though I’m not. I didn’t pay for food all weekend, and I stayed at Rossview until midnight with the other officers to help with the ribbons and such. Also, MLK won Role Call this year. Avram and I did a knockoff of Lazy Sunday that we wrote an hour before the General Assembly. Yeah, it was that bad. But we did win.
Next story: MassJCL Convention
Connie invited me to go to the MassJCL Convention, which was lots of fun. Getting there was interesting—my first flight left at about 6:00 AM, so I had to get up around 4:00. I did make it though, and the first thing I had to do was a colloquium on technology in JCL. Let’s just say it was about as well attended as my OhioJCL colloquium on Nationals. That is to say the guy that was supposed to be helping me was there. And a few other officers came for moral support. I had the colloquium again two hours later. This time two webmasters showed up. They, however, knew what they were doing, so the basic-level presentation I had prepared wasn’t very useful. So we spent a while fixing up their website.
The other interesting event was that night. The four male officers (including me) played Risk after lights out. Actually, it was Risk: Lord of the Rings edition. I’d never played before, but the dice liked me, so I was actually doing quite well. After 2 or 3 rounds, though, we gave up, because it was like 1:00 AM.
And that was the month of April.
Now for May.
The day after I got back from MassJCL was our final in math. I actually don’t know how I did, because I never got in touch with Professor Hughes. In actuality, though, it doesn’t matter. Since I’m not earning credit, my hypothetical grade doesn’t really count for much. I’m going to just have to hope that I can test out of the class.
That next Thursday (we’re on May 4, by the way) was the AP Literature and Composition test. The multiple choice was easy; the free response sucked. That’s really about all there is to it.
Next major event: AP Microeconomics test
It was easy. Most of economics is easy; you just have to think about it the right way. I spent a good portion of the free response time drawing out the database schema for that super-secret web application I mentioned earlier.
There was one redeeming thing about the test, though. One of the questions asked you to explain why something is. Since I was bored and had plenty of time, I wrote my answer in the style of a mathematical proof—complete with a QED box at the end.
Well, there was one other thing between my two AP tests: on May 7, I turned 18. That, combined with the fact that I’m about to graduate from high school, has led to a large influx of stuff from parents and grandparents and the like. Of particular note, so far I’ve received a MacBook Pro (well, it’s still in the mail), a Canon PowerShot A620 digital camera (not as fun as Mom’s, but it does its job), and this, from my uncle.
Finally, my one other graduation present is a trip to Italy. Originally, Phillip, some other kids, and I were going to go to China this summer, but that never really happened, so Dad and I are going to Italy. It’s a 12 day trip; we leave Friday afternoon. Then, we come back June 1st through Chicago, where I stay for another 3 days because it’s the NAQT National Championship, a quizbowl tournament. This is seriously going to probably be the best two weeks of…well, at least my pre-college life.
This is made interesting, though, because I managed to place myself as a finalist in the Google Da Vinci Code Quest contest thing. I got a cryptex replica in the mail today as one of the first 10,000 people to finish all 21 of their challenges. When does the final challenge start? May 19th. Luckily, it just has to be finished within 48 hours, and it’s based on shortest time, not first done. My plan? Use our 8 hour layover at the London Gatwick Airport.
By the way, the cryptex is about 4 or 5 inches long. The code for it was on the back of the box it came in—that’s “grail” if you didn’t notice from the picture. There is no vinegar inside to dissolve the paper—they shipped it, remember. And finally, it’s not unusually well made—only the last two letters really matter. Keep in mind, though, 10,000 of these were sent out. They weren’t going to be top quality.
And that’s my life. Maybe I’ll do more regular updates now. I’ll try to handwrite entries while I’m in Italy at the very least. Speaking of which, assume that I will be totally incommunicado between May 19th and June 5th.