Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye, 2008!

In an attempt to equally divide my attention between finishing the last of my college apps and financial aid forms and trying to watch Jumanji (I haven't seen this movie in years, it's amazing!), I've realized that it's already the last day of the year. What a year it has been... Last year I wrote a similar post saying goodbye to 2007 with a much more positive mindset. I'm far too swamped at the moment to be that enthusiastic, but I'll get over it. 2009 looks to hold some excitement, let's see what it has to top from '08:

January - FRC Kickoff, FLL @ Hallandale

February - 17th Birthday, NJ Regional (4th seed, GM Industrial Design Award)

March - FL Regional (1st seed, Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award), lame spring break

April - FRC Championships in ATL, MITES rejection, intense AP cramming

May - AP exams, '08 Graduation (majority of my friends left)

June - school ends, begin enjoying relaxing summer break

July - find and reconnect with siblings on the Internet, start applying for jobs

August - started working at Circuit City, began last year of high school, started college apps

September - Mission Mayhem (won Powertrain Award)

October - SAT Subject Tests, ACT

November - SAT Subject Tests, historical election that I mildly cared about, got an iPod Touch, PopPop died :(, Black Friday madness

December - got deferred at MIT, crazy holiday hours at work (=more $$ and fatigue), Christmas, finishing last of college apps

I'm looking forward to 2009 with new classes, filing taxes, the robotics season, graduation, summer, and moving on...

On a completely unrelated note, this is an excellent movie night. Jumanji and now Richie Rich, two awesome 90s movies that I haven't seen...since the 90s. They're really making it hard for me to get stuff done. Must persevere!

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Even though the big show, Christmas, is over, it's still the holiday season, so I can still get this post out. I've always loved the cartoon holiday specials that air around this time, even if I have watched them multiple times a year for 17 years...

The animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, along with A Charlie Brown Christmas  and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! all hold a special place in my heart. Even though I haven't been feeling very merry this Christmas (or the last two for that matter), the songs from these shows still bring on an irresistable smile.

Yesterday was the oh-so-not-anticipated Christmas. I actually got my mom a gift this year, the Canon Powershot SD1100, which we both loved. I've had an inkling for a while that this would be a less fruitful Christmas for me, as I'm used to just about everything under the tree being for me, and it's about time to grow up blah "Christmas is for the kids", but I was still greatly satisfied with what I recieved this year.  I got a pair of Bose headphones, a 400GB portable hard drive, Guitar Hero World Tour (game only), and the usual: clothes, money, and other knick knacks. I actually slept through most of Christmas, fully enjoying the break off from work and school.

I don't believe 2008 is practically over. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

I don't think this could've been expressed any better than how the guy that shares the same birthday as me did. Just for the record, I'm not that disappointed at all. Relieved not to be rejected but dreading the thought of waiting 3 more months. And the journey continues...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Final Countdown (Maybe)

6 days until EA decisions for MIT are released.

Ahhhh...anticipation.

Accepted, deferred, or rejected, look for something here on 12/15/08.

I don't think I'll get in. We'll see on Monday I guess.

That quote "expect the worse and hope for the best" is really becoming more and more applicable to my life.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Note

Note to self:

Noelle, 
You are lactose intolerant. Dairy hurts. Be wise with your food choices. Do not eat large quantities of ice cream and/or cheese without supplements ever again. Don't forget that. It will hurt.

-Your Digestive System

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Congratulations! You've been pre-approved for...college?

Typically you'd expect to see that line on some ridiculous ripoff high-rate credit card application.  Somehow they get ahold of your info, prequalify you, so all you have to do is fill out some basic info and you're set. Colleges have taken a hint.  In the past 4 months I have gotten about two dozen of these types of applications from colleges, known as "streamlined", "choice", "elite", and "personalized" apps. The schools offer advanced admission and financial aid notices, shorter, less, or no essays, no need for recommendation letters, fewer questions, priority housing, and sometimes a waived fee. Sometimes they throw in a cheesy spiel before getting to the point to make be feel special. Oh gosh and if they happen to know I'm black and a female interested in engineering... I cringe reading "students like you" in that context. I assume the information used to prequalify potential students are solely based on standardized test scores. Most of them are written in the same exact format:


Seems like a great idea, right? It definitely makes applying to safeties easier. Most of these applications I'm getting are unfortunately from generic middle-of-nowhere schools that I've never heard of. Just as I was shortening my college list yet again, I get a few of these from schools that I was actually interested in at some point and now I'm applying to two more schools. Kettering's app only took like 10 minutes and at one point I was seriously interested in WPI. An acceptance letter won't hurt and it'll only cost me postage for transcripts.

It actually almost seems as if schools getting desperate at this point. The first letter is "hey have you heard of XYZ University?", followed by "why don't you apply to XYZ, we like students like you. We even have a streamlined application, aren't we cool and different!", turning to the stalkerish "hey we haven't heard from you. don't you like us? we like you!" and "okay, okay, we'll waive your fee and pretty much almost guarantee admission, just apply dammit!" Perhaps it's not that extreme, but it surely felt that way.

I'm sure none of the major schools will be picking up on this approach to admissions since these types of apps really don't reveal much about the student. I feel that it also cheapens the process and removes the desire to find a suitable connection between the school and the student. I'd definitely prefer for a school to admit me based on a holistic process taking everything in to account, rather than just the numbers. Is it convenient for both me and the school? Absolutely. Best approach? Probably not. I bet with some of these apps one could be admitted by a robot as opposed to a real admissions committee.

Welcome to the 21st century, folks!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Live!

My personal site/portfolio, noellemanning.com, is now live! It's pretty much done, but I'm still tweaking some files and such before I post them, so there are still a ton of 404s. I was just anxious to get it up. The writing section is the most thorough so far. Go check it out! There will be more content (drawings, CAD, photos, videos, projects, etc.) REALLY soon. I'll post an update when it's done.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early Christmas Present

So after all the stress that October brought (testing, apps, exams, school, work, life, ect.) I decided a while back that I would save up and treat myself to something nice after everything blew over.

A few weeks ago, my iPod decided that it didn't want to function anymore, though for the past year it has been randomly deleting all of its contents, faking deaths, and being problematic in general.  So for these last few weeks, all of my bus rides and walks have been silent (except for environmental noise, of course) and a bit peaceful at times. This was nice for a while, until I started to miss my music.

I had been eyeing the iPod Touch for a while now. It was cool when it came out, but it seemed like overkill since I thought I only needed my music and had no plans to play videos or use apps. In September when the new iPod lineup was released, the Nano caught my attention, and I was almost set on buying it had I had the money at the time. In the back of my mind I was also considering the Classic too, as the gb/price ratio was the greatest and the screen size was nice. By the end of September I had enough for whatever iPod I wanted, but I was completely undecided. Also, if I had purchased an iPod at that time, I would've almost completely depleted my account, which is no fun...I like having money.

In these last few weeks I fell in love with the iPod Touch. Not only the thin, sleek, multitouch, speaker-having, wifi capable, big, shiny screen goodness, but the apps! I don't know why I completely overlooked them when it first came out, but now I have a laundry list of apps I'd like to download or purchase as soon as I get my Touch. Speaking of getting my Touch, I'm getting an iPod Touch! I realized that the only reason I hadn't purchased it two weeks ago when I officially decided I was going with the Touch was that I was a cheapo. I wanted to hold on to my money for as long as possible. Why? I don't know. I think I was just a bit skeptical about making my first large purchase and parting with the money that I had labored (pfft!) for.

So tonight, I did it. I ordered my 16GB iPod Touch 2G. It went pretty smoothly until payment. "Authorization cannot be completed. Action Required!" WHAT?! I was more than sure that I had enough money and that I had certainly not surpassed my limit. Try again, same answer.  I call my bank and apparently they had put a block on my account for making too many Internet purchases, which flags my card for suspicious activitiy. I think the security measures are great (I went through a dozen questions to get to the point) but it might've been embarrasing had I been in a store or needed to do something quickly. I spoke to 3 robots and 2 different operators, but they were all pleasant and it was all cleared up within 15 minutes. I simply reprocessed my order and my iPod should be shipping soon, arriving between Nov. 7-12! I'm excited!

I still need a few accessories for it though **hint hint** stocking stuffers?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Updates

Okay, so my regular blog readers (anybody out there? ::crickets::) should know that I haven't updated in like 2 weeks. Yeah, shame on me, but I've been busy. REALLY busy. All excuses aside, I'm going to try to summarize some entry-worthy topics of interest, bullet-style. Here goes...

-I'm ready for college application season to be over. This is quite stressful and I haven't even sent off any apps yet! (That's my problem too)

-I'm actually starting to like my job. I actually might be sad to leave in January. More like I'll miss having money on a regular basis.

-Is there ever a time when there aren't any tourists in South Florida?

-School feels like a waste of time. There is really only one worthwhile class that I have this semester, which is AP Lit, and otherwise I feel like I'm wasting a potential day of productivity by being at school doing BS assignments all day (YES, I'm looking at you Robotics/Research I and VCM!). I passed the FCAT already; I don't need anymore practice writing prompts or basic words of the day. Is this senioritis or just a few horrible classes that ruin my day? I thought I'd enjoy these classes, but I'm starting to hate them because of the lack of concentration on the course material and instead on other useless crap.

-Taking the previous bullet into consideration, can I take a week off from school just to catch up with life? I wish I still liked school and that the environment was engaging, challenging, and interesting, and I looked forward to going back, like I remember it being in elementary school. Now I'm content with a laptop in front of me, just about anywhere.

-My iPod is gone. Kaput. I have enough money to buy a new 16GB iPod Touch now, but I feel like holding on to my money for a bit. I don't know why. I really want the Touch and I really miss having my music so readily available. Maybe I'll buy it after my next paycheck. Maybe I'll keep holding on to my money.

-I'm almost done with my website. Making it has been fun, frustrating, exiting, and has kept me up late for several nights. I think I'll be ready for a launch in less than a week. Sidenote: Google Chrome is awesome for web design.

-I have my interview for MIT coming up on Thursday. I'm kinda excited.

-How did it get to be halfway through the first semester of my last year of high school? Seriously, time flies.

-My laptop is falling apart. It's running fine on the inside, but the coating over the metal by the speakers is mostly scratched off, the plastic is lose over the headphone and speaker jacks, and a piece of plastic randomly broke off near the hinge. I'll get a new before college, but I need this to hold up for at least another 6 months. Please?

-I'm tired.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Conquered

This morning I trekked over to Plantation High to take the SAT Subject Tests. Unlike Caesar, I did not conquer; I was conquered. I'm kinda bummed out that I did so poorly, but there is a reason why. I'm only in the second semester of Physics, I haven't seriously touched math since Calc ended in January, and I didn't have time to prep. Regardless, I would've at least like to have finished the exam! My stamina was horrible. Math II wasn't that hard, it just took me a while to get through the problems, and with Physics there was so much material that I haven't been expose to. I'm pretty confident that I did well in Literature, but those things are always subjective, so who knows... I'm not going to sit back and remain conquered though. I'm going to register for the November 1 exam, study my ass off for the next few weeks, and conquer this mofo!

October is gonna suck. Really bad. I can't even go to TNT because of the ACT (WHY would it be scheduled on a national testing date?!) Grr.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do You Remember...

the 21st night of September?

No?

Me neither. I just thought that the first line of September by Earth, Wind, and Fire would make an awesome blog title. The 21st night of September was quite uneventful. For some reason, I didn't sleep the night before, but I got delicious Chex Mix and a Monster in the morning, went to work and sold stuff, played an awesome round of Rock Band during my break, sold more stuff, left, went home, and went to sleep. That's it. But it was the last day of summer, thank goodness, even though seasons mean nothing in South Florida.

I can actually say that I enjoyed school today. In Visual Computer Modeling (VCM) we're working on our mobile device projects, in which we are supposed to design a multipurpose cell phone thing in Rhinoceros. I absolutely loathe Rhino and I have a hard time adjusting to the lack of design features from using Solidworks all summer, but I did manage to come up with something that looks okay. It didn't exactly come out the way I wanted it to, but that's life...and it still looks okay.

But that's not the good part. Sure it looks cool and everything rendered in a fancy 3D modeling program, but what about in real life? Oh yeah! Today we tested out the new rapid prototyping machine with the faceplate of my phone, the Boomerang. I've gotten lots of interesting feedback about it. Some people understand how it looks like a boomerang, some think it looks like a sideways Xbox 360 controller, and others ask "how the heck do you hold that thing?!" The prototyped model actually came out tiny since I wasn't drawing life-sized when we first started the project, but it'll make a cool keychain and my full-scale version will look even cooler. It only took 30 minutes to print the miniature sized faceplate and it was a completely effortless process. Machines are cool! We have so much new equipment in the new robotics lab that I can build almost anything that I want. I definitely have plans for more stuff to make and pictures will be coming soon. The next step of the project is to make an advertisment, but I'm going to take it a step further and make a real commercial. 

I want to stay up all night and do stuff, but I can't. I have to sleep so that I can wake up in time to go to school. At least tomorrow is early release. Sleep is so paradoxical. I feel like I'm wasting time, but it feels so good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

At the Moment...

I have way too much going on. Actually, there isn't really much going on, I'm just thinking about everything that will occur in the next three months at once and it's a bit overwhelming. I haven't been blogging much lately because I don't feel like ranting about the same ol' stuff over and over again. School. Work. College Apps. Sleep. Eat. Breathe.

Okay, so maybe it's not that simple, but my life is definitely getting back into that monotonous routine, which is partially a good thing because I'm more productive when busy.

School sucks and senioritis is definitely kicking in (as if it didn't exist 3 years ago, I can just officially call it that now). Everything is moving too slow, with the exception of AP Lit, which is actually enjoyable this time around. Robotics/Research is going well to be a freshman level class, the NXT platform is really cool, but I'd love to do more with it than the tutorial exercises. VCM is okay, I just absolutely loathe working with Rhino. I hate Anatomy and Physiology, and for some reason I get the vibe that the teacher doesn't like me, which is odd because I finish everything early and barely speak to anyone.

I might quit my job at Circuit City soon. It takes forever to get there on the bus and I'm not really digging the environment. I hate being pressured to hassle customers about buying services or a protection plan when they are clearly disinterested, don't have the money, or are leaving the country soon. Retail is definitely not for me. Hopefully I'll get a call back from one of the other places I recently applied to (hint hint, Laser Quest!) and perhaps I can be happy elsewhere. I guess people calling CC a hell hole and telling me "don't work here!" or "I'm leaving soon" should have been a sign.

I'm disappointed with Hurricane Ike. WHY did you avoid Florida? Pretty sad, but I think I would rather endure no power for 2-4 days rather than go to school and work. I was counting on that little peaceful vacation. You wouldn't expect this coming from me, but I think no electricity (ah, no YouTube!) for a day or two might be relaxing.

Boredom has sparked my creativity, and I've started drawing mazes again. On both Saturday and Sunday there were no customers (maybe 3 or 4) in the morning, so I started drawing detailed, tangly mazes on the back of scrap paper and challenging my coworkers to solve them. Most people thought it was cool, though they were generally confused with the concept, even though it becomes really easy once you begin. Solving one of these mazes is actually more a challenge of focusing than of intellect. I should start a collection if I (or other people!) don't lose them first. I started drawing mazes towards the end of middle school when there was pretty much nothing left that they could teach us. A lot of people liked them just because they looked cool, but a few were too difficult to solve (even I couldn't). Maybe I'll pick this up again. I like having the finished product before my eyes.

The thoughts in this entry were quite disorganized and I don't think I'm too satisfied with the way it came out, but only like 7 people are going to read it, right? I suppose this is just a reminder to my future self not to be disappointed in my writing. Haha I'm going to laugh at this eventually.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome

Yet again, Google has just improved their awesome level by like a zillion points. Today, they have released the beta of their new browser, Google Chrome. It's quite nice -- clean and easy to use interface with faster page loads. The transition from Firefox was effortless, as all of my bookmarks, browsing history, and settings were imported and implemented. Some interesting features I'm looking forward to are incognito mode, integration with existing Google Apps, new apps, the tab page, and whatever else Google wants to give us. Full run down of features is here.

I've been using this browser for about 2 hours, and it will probably become my main browser since I'm sick of crashes and other inconvenient bugs in FF3. I think the only thing that I'll really miss will be extensions, so I won't completely phase out FF.  Who knows, extensions may be in the near future?

I'm still waiting for my Google OS! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Late-Summer Mentality

I've never been to fond of the months of August and September. October isn't that great either, but it's sort of an in-betweener that separates summer from the holidays (there is no such thing as Winter here). This year, it's a bit different. Not only does late summer bring humidity and hurricanes, it also brings the start of this college application, but I'll get to that later. Let's talk about hurricanes.

So it seems as if my wish has already been granted -- a few months ago I hoped that there would be at least 2 hurricane days just for the heck of it (not before school though!) and we did indeed get them for the wimpy TS Fay. Now Hanna is coming, and probably Ike soon after. It feels like 2005 all over again with one storm right after another -- 2006 and 2007 were surprisingly dull in terms of oceanic activity. I'm not stressed out about a major disaster or anything since I feel like I can stick through anything after 2 weeks with no electricity during Wilma, it's just that I would hate for these storms to interrupt anything important that will happen in the coming months.

Speaking of important things happening in the upcoming months, I've been trying to focus on this whole college thing. It's been kind of difficult to organize my thoughts since I have so much on my mind at the moment -- I need to get a planner or thought book or something. I've removed RPI from my list, so now it's down to MIT, Olin, Princeton, Cornell, UF, and GaTech. I've been thinking about the essay topics, but nothing concrete or amazing has popped into my mind yet. I have a feeling that I won't be anywhere close to being finished early. I was registering for the SAT Subject Tests a few minutes ago but Firefox keeps crashing on me, so I guess it's not meant to be today.  I did register for the October ACT a while back though. I'm working towards getting my scores in the 32/34ish and 700ish range, so I've got my work cut out.  I'm also at a bit of a dilemma with recommendation letters. I'm sure that my teachers will write wonderful evaluations and such, but I can't really trust guidance to do the same. I hope it's not that big of an admissions factor. I've been keeping away from College Confidential for the past few weeks, and those that frequent the site know why. It's not healthy during this time.

Outside of school, I've been working...and that's it. Labor Day weekend was insane with me being there for almost 30 hours. Oh the tales of retail. I have an interesting post on consumerism coming up soon. I was planning to purchase my Nintendo DS after I got paid on Thursday, but it's really hard justifying a relatively expensive purchase when I've actually had to work for it. Every dollar that I spend equates to time now and I'm a lot more money conscious, even though I was a cheapo to begin with. Maybe I'll treat myself to something later, there is really nothing that I would want or have time to enjoy. Sucks. Saving is nice, I guess.

September is kind of a weird month. Summer vacation ends when school starts in mid-August, though the summer season doesn't official end until late-September. This creates a weird extended transitional period where it's not really summer, and not really Fall (Fall doesn't exist here either, there are just a few more cloudier days). My life is going by too quickly at the moment, it may be a good thing?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Last First Day

I knew I would be writing and entry like this for a while, I just couldn't figure out how to write it, or of what significance it would be. Many people make a big deal out of the first day of senior year since it is the last year of traditional schooling, so for some reason I hyped myself up too. As summer went on, I realized that I had little to look forward too. All of the typical senior activities such as prom, grad night, skip days, and what not aren't that enticing to me and I have little to look forward to education-wise. Eventually the hype wore off and I found myself completely unconcerned with the beginning of my last K-12 school year. The break that TS Fay provided also suppressed some of my excitement.

Last night as I laced up my new sneakers, packed my backpack with fresh supplied, laid out my clothes for the next day, and began packing my lunch, I didn't get that same feeling that I had each year for 12 years previous. It was just part of the routine...

Regardless of how much I was not anticipating this day, my alarm clock went off at 5am, and it was time to crawl out of bed and start this school thing again. Everything felt so weird and different at school. Barely any familiar faces, I felt alone. The freshmen wandering around with schedules glued to their hands and marveling over their new found "freedom" were amusing.

Enough about the experience, school is about taking classes and learning stuff, right? Let's get to that...

Robotics/Research 1: The new robotics lab is cool, even though its not completely finished yet. Though the class is full of freshmen, I think I'll still learn stuff and have fun. There are 2 other seniors that I know in the class too, so I won't feel that out of place.

Computer Applications 1: SUCKS. I know I'll be switching out of the class, being that I took it during my freshman year and there isn't really much to learn, but the 90 minutes that I spent there were excruciatingly boring and horrible. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but even a wise freshman asked me before the bell rang "what's the point of this class and how can I get out?" I don't know what I'll be switching to or when I can do it, but Visual Computer Modeling (VCM) is offered 2nd block, so I might take it if there's nothing else that I'm interested in.

AP English Lit: Basically our entire AP Lang class + a few from the fall class last year. Picking up right where we left off...

Anatomy & Physiology Honors: I DID NOT know that this would be a GP class. I assumed that half of the students would at least know what the course was about and cared to learn. Wrong. I also expected it to be taught by a different teacher :/ Our teacher, whom I have never heard of before, is actually on vacation or whatever until Monday, so we had a sub and did lame icebreaker worksheets.

I hope this semester flies by and I can't wait until next semester, I really like those classes. Until then, I'm just floating along...

Oh wait, I forgot about all that stress with SAT IIs, retaking the ACT, College Apps, and all that good stuff. Doesn't it sound fun?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Still Waiting

...for Broward to follow Miami-Dade and close school on Tuesday too. (For those of you not in FL, the first day of school was canceled due to the anticipation of Tropical Storm Fay). Hopefully there will be an update on the 12pm news in a few minutes

EDIT: SCHOOL CLOSED TUESDAY! YAY!

...for this tropical storm/hurricane to decide where it wants to go and get there.

...to start school -- I don't mind relaxing a few more days though. Tuesday off would be perfect since I don't have to work either. But if there's no electricity, eh...

...to fully wake up. I've been physically awake for about 45 minutes, but my brain still isn't functioning properly. Getting out of bed might help. Laptops are so darn convenient.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Courses

So, according to Virtual Counselor I have 3/4 of a schedule. I assume the rest is still being assigned or there is some weird error? I'm pretty satisfied (for the first time ever!) so hopefully nothing will change...

Semester 1:
1. Research I (yeah I skipped this as a freshman)
2. AP English Lit
3. Anatomy & Physiology Honors
4. ???

Semester 2:
1. AP Gov't
2. Cinematography
3. German III
4. ???

With that being said, school starts on Monday and I'm not even close to being ready to go back. Where did my summer go? I'm not doing any school supply shopping this year since I have a mini Staples at home, and I bought new shoes and clothes a few weeks ago. It's an odd feeling. I'm sure this working thing has something to do with it. I'm kinda glad I'm not out there shopping with all the crazies, but there is still something ritualistic about it. Oddly enough, I still have a slight feeling of excitement for the first day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

That List

I've finally finalized my list of colleges that I will be applying to this fall. In order of preference:

1. MIT
2. Olin College of Engineering
3. Princeton University
4. University of Florida
4. Cornell University
5. Georgia Tech
6. RPI

I'm predicting that I'll get accepted into three of those schools, the other four are pretty far reaches. Later on I'll detail why I chose each school. I've started a few apps, now I can really begin to focus since I have my finalized list. I won't be surprised if I change my mind in the next few months though.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

That 'Working' Stuff

It still hasn't set in that I have a job, I'm working, and they're paying me to do it. I don't feel like writing long paragraphs that have to flow together, so I'm gonna do that quick thought thing again since that seems to work well at getting everything out...

-The art of selling things is really interesting. I think I currently suck at it, but I'm getting better. People are intimidating.

-Despite what those silly e-learnings said, I can categorize customers into several basic groups: the people that need to have their hands held along 110% of the way, the people that know what they want, the people that think they know what they want but are really clueless, and the browsers. After three days on the selling floor, I'm starting to like the first two a lot. I also like international customers too, they tend to spend quite a bit.

-Shockingly, almost 50% of the people that walk into the store speak Spanish, and about half of those only speak Spanish.

-I still get extremely nervous when people shove money or a credit card in my face after a transaction. "Duh Noelle, you work here!"

-Customers that use the salespeople efficiently are awesome. I don't mind being your personal shopping assistant for an hour if you're gonna spend $2K. Even if you don't spend that much, its still better than standing around doing nothing tidying up. I actually like answering questions. Ask away!

-Speaking of the oh-yeah-I-work-here phenomenon, it's still weird having people coming up to me asking questions...but oh wait, I know the answers, I have a key, I can help!

-No, we do not have any more Wiis!

-I prefer to sell cameras rather than computers. Odd thing is, I know more about the computers, cameras are just easier and more fun to sell.

-An interesting guy came in and schooled me on a few of the higher end cameras. Turns out he used to be a professional photographer. We had an interesting conversation about the tech industry and robotics and all that cool stuff. Turns out he works for Citrix too. He urged me to get out of retail as soon as possible lol. That's definitely on my agenda. This will hopefully be my first and last retail job.

-Public transportation sucks! I've never had a problem with it until I had to rely (NOT reliable, btw) on it daily. I hate waiting and I hate the heat. Screw that, I'm getting a bike.

-The power went out for an hour and a half today when a wannabe hurricane came through. We gathered to the front of the store and did nothing. All the customers left after a half hour. Apparently this happens often, but never for this long. "Free" $12 for me lol.

-I hate downtime. I'd rather be overwhelmingly busy with customers than have to pretend to be productive by re-straightening the same rows over and over again.

-I keep hearing things from employees that the new management sucks, which is why a ton of people are leaving and there are a ton of new hires (like me). Things like "this place is a hell hole" and "why would you ever choose to work here" aren't really comforting. I don't know if I should be worried just yet. Then again, the store's ranking is blah, so it's probably a necessary change.

-A 1-hour lunch break is a really long time when you can't just drive off anywhere. There are always cartoons on in the break room, Spongebob Squarepants has never been so hilarious.

-I can't wait to get paid! I want my Nintendo DS and new iPod already!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Confession

I don't think this is much of a shocking confession, but it definitely is serious. I have an addiction; a terrible, terrible addiction to YouTube. I'm sure this is fairly common in our digital age -- I hate phrases like that, but it seems appropriate at the moment. I've come to realize that my fascination with Internet videos is becoming detrimental to my lifestyle. I'll watch pretty much anything, music videos, personal vlogs, comedians, random viral videos, educational lessons, school projects, babies laughing, vacation memories, preschool graduations, robot stuff, cooking shows, the list goes on infinitely. I know it hasn't always been like this though. When YouTube first launched, I found it interesting, but would only go on the site if there was a link to a specific video and that was it. Time went on, more content was created, and now I feel a void if I haven't watched at least a few videos a day.

Scenario 1 - Checking Subscriptions: I'm always logged on to my account, so when I go to YouTube, the first thing I see are the latest videos from the 45 channels that I'm subscribed to. That typically takes an hour or so to go through. From there, I usually get sucked into the YT black hole of no return with that 'Related Videos' column, or if the original video that I clicked on was a response to something else, or if there were any responses to the original video.

Scenario 2 - Links: Friends typically share links if they make something or find something cool or funny. Other websites also link to YouTube for a variety of things. Again with the evil 'Related Videos' column...

Scenario 3 - Search: Every so often something interesting will pop into my mind and I'll think "hmm, I wonder if there is anything on YouTube about this..." Begin vicious cycle.

Scenario 4 - Completely Random: There is no explanation to how I got to a video or why I'm still watching it. I just am, and I can't stop.

As much as I enjoy watching videos on YouTube, I lack self-control in this area. I can usually control myself when it comes to stuff like this -- I stopped watching as much TV as I did when I was younger, I don't eat as much as I used to, but I can't kick this YouTube thing! It caused sleepless nights, homework going undone, corny jokes to be made, and a sad dependence on user-created content!

My lack of work in my Calculus class has inspired this entry. I have all the intention of coming online and getting 3-4 assignments done in one sitting, but I get sucked in to YT. I'll look at the little clock in my system tray and set time limits, but I always end up ignoring them. "Ok, I'll start working at 1am" Looks at clock, It's 1:59am. Sigh. I hate that I disappoint myself more than I disappoint others.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ramblings

There is really nothing in particular that I want to discuss, but I have this burning urge to blog. So, let's do another one of those random point/story/memory thingamajigs...

-I've been training at Circuit City for the past two days doing e-learning in this tiny room. It's hella boring. I experienced a bit of panic earlier this morning when I thought I would be late to work...only on my second day. By the time the bus reached the Sawgrass area, I was 45 minutes early, so I decided to take the bus around the Sawgrass mall loop and get off at the stop closest to the store on the way back around instead of crossing the big scary Sunrise Blvd. @ Flamingo, plus it would use up some time since I didn't want to arrive too early. I carefully planned everything out with the schedules , but that was to no use! When we got to Sawgrass, the driver said the bus was going back to the garage and not looping around again. WHAT?! The schedule did not say that. Anytime a bus goes out of service, there is a 'G' after the time of the particular stop. There weren't supposed to be any G's until waaaay later in the day. So, it's 8:55am and the next bus is supposed to come at 9:02, leaving at 9:15. That would be cutting it pretty close, being that the buses are rarely reliable nowadays. I am presented with a dilemma; I can wait for the bus, not knowing if it'll show up on time, or I can walk. I ended up waiting until 9:07am and then walking when the bus didn't show. It was a long walk. 1.5 mile walk, in less than 20 minutes, while its 90 degrees outside. I was not a happy camper when I arrived. More like a sweaty and tired camper. I actually made it on time though....but the doors were locked since the store wasn't open yet. Panic ensues yet again. Me being a noob and all, I had no idea how to get in, but luckily someone saw me. 6 hours flew by really quickly, hopefully I'll be able to finish up the training tomorrow.

-MIT's application hasn't been released yet. What's up with that!? I bet they're just teasing us. This was funny. I believed it for about a second until logic kicked in. Princeton's online app hasn't been posted either. Is there some significant national delay?! I know, we're reading too far into this. Someone's reply was also awesome. Whhhhhyy is college admissions so nerve wrecking and unsettling? I wish I could just know sooner so I could try to start liking UF more, but there is still that slight slight chance that I'll be accepted at MIT or Olin, slight. I'll be patient.

-I'm staring at this Guitar Hero controller next to me and realized that I haven't played it in a really long time. I need to find time to play. I miss being hypnotized from the colorful, rhythmic dots flowing at me.

-The reality is setting in that school is starting really soon. Back to school sales are going on like crazy, I have two new pairs of shoes, and Broward Schools' website has changed once again. This is definitely the best thus far. Easier on the eyes, better navigation, and no ugly backgrounds or graphics. Virtual Counselor is also back up and it says that I'm a 12th grader now. I honestly don't care about that class pride 2009 hooha, I just want to know my schedule lol. Maybe once in my high school career the scheduling stars will align and there will be no conflicts and I'll get what I asked for. Maybe? Nah, sounds too good to be true. I want to see what fun course gets stuck on there this year when something I selected is unavailable. Weight Training II? Intensive Reading?

-So this was the first year that my half-birthday passed without me really noticing it (yesterday). Probably because there was another event taking place. I'm not one to celebrate or anything, I just usually take note since I always have to have an accurate mental representation of time and date or else I don't function properly "ah, I need to update my age to 17.5." Last six months of being a minor! Not that its's really important or anything, I can just legally enter a contract (get a credit card!), vote (which I probably won't be doing), buy cigarettes and lotto tickets (no), buy alcohol just about anywhere outside of the US (too bad I don't travel often), and work longer hours (eh, no). I guess 18 isn't really that exciting. I need the media to stop making a big deal about these events, yes I'm looking at you My Super Sweet 16/18/21!

-I need to go to sleep again. Waking up at 7am during the summer, during the weekend is no fun... I guess there won't be as much of a shock when school rolls back around and I have to wake up at an even more ungodly hour.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yay!

I got the job! I'll be working in sales at Circuit City selling cameras and the like. I only had one interview, which I thought went horribly, but apparently not since the store manager was impressed by some of the things on my resume and how I "sold" him a stapler that was supposed to be a camera. The interview was really supposed to be yesterday, but it had to be rescheduled. I usually get nervous with these types of things, but I was pretty confident when I went in yesterday. Today for some reason, the nervousness decided to make an appearance about 20 minutes before I went in. It could've just been the greasy McDonalds breakfast I had earlier disagreeing too...

I already have plans to blow my first month's pay, but after that perhaps I can start saving. In the meantime I'll need to come up with a few plans for managing my time with school work (depending on my schedule), applications, and other activities since I'll be working until close most days. That means no more afternoon naps :( Realistically, this will probably help me since I really do suck at efficiently using my time, and I'll need to learn to do that soon, really soon.

This is kind of surreal. Oh noes, growing up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Blog Gods Were Listening

I got a call from Circuit City this morning for an interview! It would be immature of me to think that it had anything to do with the last post, but what a coincidence. My interview is tomorrow at 11, first interview ever. Surprisingly, I'm not nervous at all. I'm actually kind of excited. I really hope this goes well...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

HIRE ME!

In the past three months, I've applied to more than a dozen, probably closer to two dozen, various corporations in hopes that they will accept me to exchange labor for US currency. I have not gotten a single offer or even response yet. Is it because I'm failing their stupid personality tests? Is it because I have no experience? Is it because I'm under 18? Is it because the economy sucks? WHAT IS IT?!

(Actually, I've gotten 2 responses that have said I'm too young, but otherwise nothing.)

I've figured that a lot of people will be quitting their summer jobs soon as school rolls around, but I'm still willing to work. Maybe this will increase my chances of getting an offer? This weekend I applied to four more places, hopefully I'll get a call or some type of response next week.

I'm a bit of the lazy type when I have nothing to do, which is most of the time. But when I do actually have work to accomplish, the laziness goes away and I feel productive, like I am actually earning my spot on the Earth. I decided in early 2008 that working would have several benefits. My main motivator is money...I want to buy things. Interacting with the public should help me in some way or another, whether I enjoy it or not. Also, having something other to do than sleep or goof off on the Internet when I come home from school should help me develop some time management skills, which are supposedly important. Someone hire me! Please?

(Ha, what are the chances of any potential employers reading this?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mamma Mia, Here I Go Again...

I don't know what's so captivating about ordinary movies and plays that just happen to have random outbursts of song and dance, but I absolutely love it. I have yet to see a musical that I have not liked (maybe I just have good taste in what I pick), Mamma Mia was no different!

My mom and I saw Mamma Mia at Sunrise Cinema 11, yes the theater that all the old people go to, on Sunday. I was surprised at how packed it was, wall to wall gray hair, saggy skin. I'm not used to actually sitting next to strangers without a 1-seat separation at the movies. We arrived relatively early, but the theater became packed very quickly. It was opening weekend, so I suppose crowds were to be expected, though it wasn't that crowded when we went to see Hancock on the 4th. The 20 minutes waiting for the lights to dim down seemed like the longest 20 minutes in my life, with the same E! and Coke trivia and celebrity quotes playing over and over and over and over and over again. Eventually the movie began, but there were no previews! Just dumb, really dumb commercials. This isn't how I wanted to start a potentially great movie.

Despite the lame setting, the movie was absolutely awesome! I won't spoil it for anyone that is reading and wants to see it. Unlike all the other musicals turned movies that I had seen previously, I didn't really know the storyline behind this one ahead of time, so it made it even more interesting. I got that same feeling of wanting to dance along while the catchy, upbeat songs were playing, and the jittery sing-along feeling after the movie just as I had after seeing RENT, Dreamgirls, and the good Disney movies from back in the day. The same omg-I-have-to-buy/download-the-soundtrack feeling. I always love a movie that makes me want to cry one moment and laugh the next. Speaking of crying, there was an old guy sitting next to us seriously crying during the wedding scene. I could not get over that. I know, laughing at old people is horrible.

So while we're on the topic of musicals, I was thinking about how awesome it was to see The Lion King, Live! last year when it came to The Broward Center. I don't think I was blogging back in May of 07, but the show was amazing. I might use the word amazing a lot, but this performance was just...woah. I was absolutely blown away and in awe throughout the entire show, from the musical arrangements, to the costumes, to the choreography, to the technical aspects...it was all just marvelous (I'm running out of adjectives). Back from my little aside, I somehow ended up checking The Broward Center's calendar recently to see what's playing, and guess what is...Mamma Mia. I was excited just to see that it was coming next season, but what's even cooler is that the last show is on February 1, which happens to be my 18th birthday! Yay! So I hope no one asks what I want for my birthday/Christmas this year, because I just told you. Thanks! (I hope I don't sound like a brat) For some reason people tend to get upset when they ask me what I want for a gift and I never really have an answer.

Another little aside: Something similar happened 2 years ago when Prince came to town for the Superbowl halftime show. The night before he was having a concert at the Hollywood Hard Rock, which happened to be the day before my birthday. Sounds just perfect, huh? Well, we heard the promo on the radio around Christmas and tickets went on sale the next day. Guess what...the tickets were completely sold out in less than 2 hours...and the cheapie I-can-barely-see-the-stage seats were starting at $100+. Apparently most of the tickets were bought up way before they went on sale to the general public by NFL execs and the like. So that didn't quite work out. Hopefully there won't be such a craze to see Mamma Mia on MY birthday, especially since it'll be here for a few weeks.

♬ dancing queen, young and sweet only seventeen ♪

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I have to go back to school in a month.

Booooooo!

Reminds me of that episode of Arthur where he makes a list of things that he wants to do for summer, the entire summer passes by, and with a week (or is it a weekend?) left, he realizes that he hasn't done anything on the list and rushes to do it before its time to go back. The only difference with me is that I did most of the things that I wanted to do (read: absolutely nothing :) ), and now I still don't want to go back. I still can prep for the SAT IIs, work on college essays, yadda yadda, but that's too much like school.

Just like I have this amazement with airports and planes, I also share the same enthusiasm with trains. Problem is I travel by plane more frequently than I travel by train. Actually, I've only been on the train a few times. Well, I can change that! I decided that sometime in the near future, probably next week, I'm going to take a little journey. I really don't have anywhere to go on a real train (nor do I feel like paying for an "expensive" ticket), so I'm going to go somewhere in the tri-county area on tri-rail. I have always found tri-rail to be pretty cool, being that it stretches from Palm Beach to Miami, the only issue is that it only goes in two directions, North and South, typically east of I-95, so in order to really get somewhere, you'd have to utilize some other method of transportation. The whole "use public transportation to get to work" scenario only works for those that live in the downtown areas. Broward needs to hurry up with that light rail system. I'll be gone by the time its implemented though. It's not like The Sims where I can pause "life" and stick some new features in. Nonetheless, this hinders my destination options a bit, which is why this is just an exploration trip, wandering around just because I can. Perhaps I'll go from the southernmost point of the route to the northernmost point. Perhaps I'll find and interesting place. Perhaps...

I'm really having a hard time believing that it's back-to-school time already. The ads in the Sunday papers were all about new pencils and High School Musical lunchboxes and dull polos and dorm stuff and clean white sneakers and things that are bothering me at the moment because ITS NOT TIME YET. Okay, the caps were unnecessary, but the whole school thing kinda snuck up on me. I had been content doing my FLVS work, but as for real school....nooooooooooooooooo. 30 days is a long time, but I have a feeling it will fly by. This summer is a little weird since I didn't experience the back-to-school rush last year being at CMU, I just went right back to school as soon as I got back and picked up a few new things I needed at the mall that weekend. Maybe if I ignore it I'll just forget and everything will work out somehow on the 18th. Yeah, that sounds good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Ears are Happy

People have been raving about Pandora for a while now. I brushed it off when I first heard about it a while back, as I was satisfied with my current internet radio solution, Deezer, until content started getting blocked to the point where I could only listen to very few songs. So yesterday, I decided to give this Pandora thing a shot. Within minutes I had set up stations featuring my favorite artists and similar artists. Also, within an hour of listening, I discovered a lot of new music that I actually enjoyed in addition to some old favorites that I hadn't heard in a while.

So today, when I logged back on, I wondered what made this music service so much more awesome than all the rest. A few clicks away and I come across info on the Music Genome Project, which basically has focused on extensively categorizing music since 2000. That's what makes Pandora awesomer. I've mixed a few of my favorites together, so now I have this set of awesome music that I can listen to without skipping so often. It's actually better than randomizing my own music on iTunes.

Yeah, I'm sure I sound like they're paying me to advertise, but they're not, and it truly is a great service. I was able to make my ears happy, so quickly, so effortlessly.

Now back to Physics...I'm trying to be a good FLVS student and get back on pace (I've never really been on pace lol, I'm ahead in AP Calc though!).

Monday, July 14, 2008

GROSS

On Saturday we went out to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. On the way back, we stopped for gas and I ran inside the minimart or whatever it's called to grab a snack. I purchased a Pinapple Fanta, Tropical Skittles, and Rolos. I love Rolos, they're like the perfect blend of caramel and milk chocolate. Well not any more! I opened the paper and carefully opened the gold foil wrapper so that it wouldn't rip. I noticed the chocolate was flaky on the first piece, but I figured it was because of a temperature change or shipping. NOPE. I pulled the first piece away from the second and THERE WAS A LIVE WHITE WORM STARING AND WIGGLING AT ME from my once delicious chocolate candy!!!!!! EWWWWWWWWWWWW! We hadn't pulled off yet, so I ran back inside and the also disgusted cashier gave me my money back and threw away the candy. I regret doing that now because I could've taken a picture. I was thoroughly disgusted for the rest of the evening. I still am.

So being an avid Consumerist reader, I thought the best thing to do was send off an email to Hershey's informing them of their horrible product mishap. I decided to do a little research first though. Apparently, having worms in various chocolate candies is pretty common. In the course of my research, I stumbled upon an FDA report that basically sums up how many bugs, how much of their poop and other crap that shouldn't be in our food is actually in our food. I found out that in chocolate, there is an average of 60 insect fragments per 100 grams of chocolate. A package of Rolos is 48g and there are 8 Rolos in each package. If I'm interpreting the data correctly, that means that there could've been about 10 insect fragments in every bite! YUCK! And this is perfectly legal and "safe". Not for my mental health; I'm not too comfortable with the thought of eating bugs. I've read that the problem stems from the cocoa beans, but I don't understand how the larvae could survive the cooking process and make it out alive in my chocolate, unless it came in somewhere between the factory and the store to my hands. I remember one of the local news stations did a report on worms and larvae in Mars M-Azing candy bars, and they found out that the problem was not limited to only a few incidents. Heat and improper storage had something to do with it, but that wasn't the only problem. I've read that the worms aren't harmful if digested, but still, who wants to something that something else already ate with the something else still inside?!

I still haven't written to Hershey, but I probably will later today. They'll probably send some coupons for more wormy chocolate and apologize for my dissatisfaction, but I wish that memory could be erased. I probably won't be eating chocolate for a while. That was a horrible experience.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Fun

Yesterday was absolutely awesome. I haven't had so much fun in quite a while. I met up with some friends to see Wall-E, but it was way more than just watching a movie...

Gameworks: while waiting for others to show up, Dom and I went to Gameworks for a quick game of DDR. After playing just one game (3 rounds), we were exhausted. There were some lame kids hogging the "good" machine with the more sensative pads, so we used the other machine and I practically killed my feet/ankles wearing flip flops on the slippery, barely responsive pad.

Mall Wandering: I'm not really used to just wandering around the mall just for the hell of it, so it was kind of strange at first, but eventually I enjoyed not rushing around from store to store like we usually do. After about 30 minutes of walking around my feet started to feel the pain of playing DDR in such horrible conditions and wearing those cheap $3 Old Navy flip flops with absolutely no arch support whatsoever. Luckily there is a Target at Sawgrass and I didn't hesistate to get another pair of comfortable flip flops (I already have a pair of these, but you can never have to many!). I trashed the horrible Old Navy flip flops and our other friends arrived shortly after. We bought our tickets for Wall-E but had some time to spare, so we went back to Gameworks. Over an hour later and the same machine hogs were still there. After abusing my feet before, I was in no mood to play DDR again...but I did.

WALL-E: Is probably up near the top of my favorite movies now. I knew from the moment I saw the first trailer sometime last year that I would probably love this movie, but I had no idea it would be this great. The movie carried a great message about gluttony and the environment with a cute love story. The theme of Buy N' Large in the movie actually reminded me of the principles of the movie Idiocracy. I did sense a bit of irony watching everyone around the theater stuff their faces with oversized and overpriced food...I even had a gigantic wannabe Dr. Pepper. This movie is definitely reccommended and I'll probably have WAAALLL-EEEEE stuck in my head for a while. I'm probably going to see it again with my mom.

sitting on the WALL-E bench after the movie

Food: I haven't had Panda Express in a really long time. It was really good, but they were being cheap with their portions. I've never been able to finish a Panda Bowl in one sitting, except for today. Earlier in the day I had a Lemonade icee from Burger King. Carbonated sugary icee drinks are absolutely delicious. I don't know why I'm so addicted to sweet icy things, carbonation is just a nice extra.

Laser Quest: I've only been to Laser Quest once, and that was with camp about 8 years ago. I vaguely remembered it, but it was definitely 10x better this time around. Dominique works there so she had free passes to share (THANKS!). I chose the name "awesomeness" as an alias, but it somehow got entered as "awesomest" which was equally okay, I guess. We arrived just in time for the last game of the night. Our marshall, who I went to middle school with (just found out!), was very humorous and pretty up to date on Internet culture and kept the jokes coming the whole time. Into the airlock for briefing, strap on the packs, and the game is on! I definitely payed more attention to strategy and detail than when I played before, and it made the game seem so much more fun. 15 minutes felt like 5, but we were all drenched in sweat after the game ended. I ranked 18/29 with 6% accuracy, not tagging everyone that was playing. Regardless of score, it was still a great game and I had an amazing night with cool people.

The odd thing about summer is that I can go hours on end without saying a word or, often days without speaking (in person) to someone my own age, or even leaving the house for that matter ( I think my record was set last year with 10 days). I don't know why verbal communication sucks so much, but this was definitely a nice social break in the monotony of my individualistic summer lifestyle. I blame the Internet...it's too addicting.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I Love the World/ I Love Robots

If you watch Discovery Channel, you may have noticed this commercial being aired:



Isn't it great? Gustavo and I think so too. So does xkcd. Out of admiration and utter bliss, we decided to write a parody of our own about an hour ago...

I Love Robots

I love robots
I love when sparks fly
I love their colors
I love to discover why
I love all of FIRST
And all its quirky perks!
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada

I love engineers
I love to build things
I love metal gears
I love hurdling
I love all of FIRST
And all the fun emersed
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada

I love to program
I love electronics
I love crazy games
I love physics
I love all of FIRST
And all it does for us
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada
Boom de Yada Boom de Yada

The meter and rhyme scheme are a bit off, but it still sounds okay when you sing it. Perhaps we'll make a recording some day. Thanks Discovery Channel for that awesome commercial and for making me feel happy inside!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Beginning of an Adventure

The UF application should be available online in a few hours along with the Common App and a few other schools. I'm still debating on whether I should start with essays and such now or just relax for a bit and wait until later. I suppose this signifies the beginning of my journey in the college application process.

On Friday morning AP scores became available by phone, so I was impatient and paid $8 to call and hear my scores. They were supposed to be available today, but like all of the other exams, scores are usually available a few days earlier. Unfortunately when I called, not all of the scores were available. The verdict...

AP US History: unavailable
AP Lang: 3
AP Psych: 3

I'm still devastated. I know it's not that bad, and I may still get credit at some schools, but it's really disappointing. I also know a 3 is still a pretty good accomplishment and not the end of the world, but I expected to do better, especially in two courses that I thought I had a very firm grasp on. I don't even want to know my APUSH grade now. ::deep sigh::

With scores like these and last semester's grades I'm probably not going to get into MIT unless my SAT Subject Test and ACT retakes are amazing in Sept/Oct. I should learn to like UF more...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shoobie for a Week

This past week family was visiting and I got to be a tourist in the city that I live in. From my knowledge of Rocket Power, tourist = shoobie. Sure I'm about 15 minutes away from anything and everything (the beach, Hard Rock, Sawgrass, Indians, etc.), but I never really got to treasure what some people may call paradise. I think for the first time in my 13 years of living here I actually enjoyed Florida. It seemed a bit absurd to take pictures next to things that I see on a regular basis, but someday I'll be able to appreciate these photos.

On Sunday we went to the beach. Fort Lauderdale beach isn't one of my favorite beaches at all, but we chose to go there because of the amenities and shaded areas. Early on, I went on a bit of a lactose overload and decided that I could eat cheese dip. Bad idea. I didn't feel well for most of the time we were there, but soaking in the sun and experiencing the tropical breeze made me feel better. We took a little walk to 7-Eleven since the hot dogs weren't packed, and no trip to 7-Eleven is complete without a slurpee. Actually, the only time I think I've gone to 7-Eleven without getting a slurpee was when we were in New Jersey earlier this year and it was snowing. After coming back from the slurpee superstore, I still wasn't feeling well enough to go in the water so I just sat at the shore and let the waves touch my toes while I watched the boats and parasailers in the distance.


On Tuesday we went to Sawgrass and did the normal shopping thing. For dinner we went to Rainforest Cafe, where I haven't been in ages...I think I was 8 or 9 the last time we were there. When at the mall we usually just walk around Rainforest because there are usually a bunch of tourists taking pictures everywhere, throwing pennies at the fake alligator in the little pond, observing the purple elephant reservation stand, or just crowding the store/playground in general...this time we did all of that. As soon as we were seated, which happened to be right next to the gorillas, a "thunderstorm" began. I forgot how real it all seemed. The rain and thunder sounded real, the lights flickered accordingly in perfect timing, and the animals all reacted. I'm sure my younger cousins enjoyed it more than I did though.


Wednesday we went to the Seminole Paradise (Hollywood Hard Rock) to visit the Okalee Village and Museum. It was horrible. Besides the fact that it was raining, the museum was tiny, so we didn't bother going. The outdoor portion could've been explored in about 10 minutes, but we stretched it out. There were alligators, bears, panthers, birds, skunks, raccoons and all those other animals that they showcase at Florida touristy places. The only plus of that trip was that there was a Wetzel Pretzel and they have the most delicious pizza pretzels and pomogranate lemonade.

more pictures with alligators

Thursday happened to be the most touristy of all. We went on the Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise, which took us around the Intercostal and New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The boats are docked near the Bahia Mar, right across the street from where we were beaching a few days previous. This was my 3rd time on the Jungle Queen, 2nd time during the day. I never had the opportunity to sit on the top deck, so I insisted that we sit up there. We arrived early so we got perfect seats at the front of the boat. I had seen all of this before, but it seemed so much cooler this time around. Regardless, we took pictures of all of the multimillion dollar homes of celebrities and other rich people, listened to the cheesy jokes, learned little tidbits about the area that were forced into memory during 4th grade, and kept hearing about Wayne Huizenga, the guy that apparently owns almost everything in South Florida. We passed by the museum, the prison, the downtown area, the las olas area, and lots of other big, expensive, important places.

The Museum of Science and Discovery + IMAX Theater

After a 45 minute ride we end up at a private island where there are animals, an alligator show, and touristy things to buy. During the night cruise there is an all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner with entertainment. I wasn't too interested in the alligator show since we'd seen alligators the day before and I saw a similar show before last year at Everglades Holiday Park when we went on an airboat ride.


There were iguanas and all types of birds (including peacocks) walking all over the place, but I enjoyed the monkeys most. For the first time ever I actually felt bad for caged animals since they all looked so sad and bored. After about 45 minutes on the island we returned the boat and set sail back to the other side of Fort Lauderdale. On the way back we took an alternate route and passed by Port Everglades to see the the Royal Caribbean [whatever] of the Seas docked. How I miss cruises... Shortly after the port we were back at the dock and it was all over.

just another cloudy day in Fort Lauderdale

On the flip side, yesterday we got a taste of Florida Snow...soot. There were terrible storms in the afternoon and I'm guessing lightening struck a tree out in the Everglades so there might've been a fire(there were no news reports; it might've just been small). We walked out of Walgreens only to see a hazy setting of low thick black clouds and smell smoke in the air. Little white ashes started flowing down, looking almost like snow. It was kind of scary and cool at the same time.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Late Night Ramblings

5:03 am EDIT: Something suddenly moved me to check Pinnacle. Exam grades are up. I got an A on my AP English final!!!!! At the beginning, I didn't think it was possible. Too bad it didn't help my grade, but I'm still happy

It's 3:46am and I think the Internet has gone to sleep. No new forum posts, everyone's status is 'away' or offline.

I've been listening to a lot of Flobots lately. I heard Handlebars quite a while back and thought it was interesting, and a few days ago I heard another one of their songs and was hooked.

Pizza Hut's Tuscani pastas are delicious. Especially the Meaty Marinara. It's fast food, but its real -- amazing!

Friday the 13th passed by without me noticing that it was Friday the 13th. Adult Swim had commercials about it for days, some how I managed to forget...

I feel the need to rearrange my room again. I probably shouldn't. I probably won't.

I'm babbling. And I made two posts less than an hour apart. Time to stop.

Rewind

I just ran across a folder of writing pieces that I wrote between late 8th grade and early 9th grade. What an angsty little early-teen I was! Some of it is hilarious, some of it is corny, some stuff just plain horrible that has me thinking "why the heck did I write that!?". This definitely warrants a creative writing blog that I've been putting off for so long. Here's one from early 9th grade:

School has started once again
Time for my brain to go full spin
Summer's not over, but we still go to school
And I think that is just cruel

Got my classes
They weren't that great
Time's like molasses
Speed up for heaven's sake!

Intro to Info Tech
What a pain in the neck
I'm not learning anything
Isn't this supposed to be high tech?

German is a favorite of mine
Auf Wiederzehen is my favorite line
I love to learn about Deutschland
I hope to know it like the back of my hand

Biology Honors seemed like something I'd like
Instead I wish that I could take a hike
And oh how I love Ms. Flip-Zip Crazy
Her presence is the opposite of fresh cut daisies

Gifted English I is a little challenging
But it is very intellectually stimulating
Analyze this, who, what, and why
Not time to think, no time to sigh

Computer Applications
Ha! Must be a joke
It's no fascination
Thought it was a hoax

In Recreation there's nothing to do
Half the time I stare down at my shoe
We play Mancala, Chess, and Connect Four
How much longer 'til I can be out that door?

Concepts of Engineering isn't that hard
We've already learned about memory and sound cards
The thick PC book is what we read from
Just do the questions and test, then you're done

High School isn't all that bad
You can't let the small stuff get you mad
I can see great opportunities ahead
If only I could get out of bed

I'm seriously LOLing at myself now because I was just as pessimistic about school 3 years ago as I am now. For some reason I thought that I used to like school. I still love learning, but just not going to school and doing useless things. Do I really hate school? Or has Dillard made me this way? I completely forgot that we used to call Ms. Miller FlipZip because she used to use the phrase when she was ranting about petty stuff like pages being stapled horizontally instead of diagonally or something. I should write another one of these for this past year...

EDIT: Came up with something really quick. It's sooo cheesy.

Junior year has come to and end
No surprise -- I'm at Dillard again
Same ol' stuff, just for the 3rd time
Next year I should reach my prime

What a year it has been
All the work, I can't seem to win
PSAT, ACT, tests every week
Frantic about if my scores will peak

Calculus, a seemingly challenging class
Luckily it wasn't hard, I managed to pass
I learned how to derive, manipulate pi
And discovered the TI-89 does not lie

Second class was Electronics 2
I learned most of this stuff at CMU
Studied circuits, didn't challenge us
How the heck did I end up with a B+

AP Psych was quite the thrill
Disorders, behaviors, anti-psychotic pills
I learned more about Bio than I did in 9th grade
Loved this class, hope the memories never fade

Interactive Design was really cool
Dealed with a lot of web design tools
Built my first site, all from scratch
I think this course and I were a match

Second semester came too fast
The homework-less nights did not last
I ended up taking Physics online
FLVS from eight 'til nine

AP English was a bit of a shock
So much work, I'm jumping off the dock
I think we were prepared quite well
But only my exam grades shall tell

Robotics again with Research V
We never got to take our ROVs for a dive
Independent projects to wrap up the year
Nothing hands on, didn't touch a gear

AP US History was the class to dread
How was I supposd to cram this all in my head
I was terrified about the exam
The night before, I rushed to cram

Now I'm a Senior, one more year
Nothing more at Dillard that I fear
Apps, tests, graduation, all that fun stuff
High School life -- I've had enough

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday!

...to my blog. It was really on June 1, but I was a little busy then so I forgot.

Now I want cake.

Extended Exhale

School ended on Thursday, which means I'm officially a senior now, and my summer has begun. I'm a bit ticked that exam grades aren't on Pinnacle (and they probably won't be), so I won't know the final verdict until report cards come out. I felt that I absolutely aced the AP Lang final, but who knows now...

So yeah, I don't think I've ever been at school after school on the last day (picked up last year, out with friends the year before) but this year was pretty crazy. It all started in APUSH (the last exam) when someone came back from the restroom saying that there were people lined up outside of the fence and police cars all over the place. Less than five minutes later, sirens are heard. Hmmm, what happened? A few more minutes pass and loud yelling sounds along with a rush towards the southwest direction is seen/heard. Confused about what is going on, the bell rings at 11:50am and everyone rushes out, DJ and I heading in the opposite direction towards McDonalds...it's an Early Release Day tradition.

It was a surprisingly clear walk, except for the mob of people spontaneously changing direction right outside of school. There were about a dozen police cars outside of the school and tons of traffic. McDonalds was absolutely empty when we walked in. Being that there was 40-50 minutes between the time that school ended when buses left, it was typical to see a ton of people there. Being that we were coming from a relatively far building from the exit, we'd typically not be first...but there was no one there. A few people showed up shortly after, but no where close to the crowd you'd even see on a regular weekday. So we leisurely walk back to school because we didn't have to rush since the typical 20 minute trip only took 10. It was extremely hot though. When we get back to school, there's a bit of a strange site; the gates for cars to enter/exit are both closed, but the pedestrian entry was open. MeanSecurityLady was physically blocking the pedestrian entry. She didn't speak to anyone else, but somehow picked out from the crowd that we were trying to get back to the bus loop. With relief, we scooted to the front of the crowd...to no use!

MeanSecurityLady: "Uh-uh y'all can't come in dis way...y'all gotta walk ALL the way around!"
Us: "ALL the way around?!"
MeanSecurityLady: "Yeah, where the buses come in"
::sigh::

For those of you that don't know the area, it's a pretty long walk. I've actually never walked on that side of the school before. The red line is the extremely long route (did I mention it was HOT!) we took on Thursday, the green line is the route that we typically take.

As we approach the bus entry gate, some other friends are walking back telling us it'll be impossible to get in and that security on that side mentioned that they had to walk around to the main entrance. HA...not going back again. We tried to tell them that they'd be rejected there, but they kept going, and so did we, determined to get back in the school somehow. Just as we're 20ft from the gate, a huge fight breaks out across the street and they begin closing the gates. We ninja our way in JUST as the gate is closing, and security yells at us from the inside "y'all lucky!". You would've had to have seen it to believe how smooth it was. The gate closed less than 4 inches behind me. They would've had to open the gates when the rest of the buses came in anyway...

After that ridiculous journey, you'd think that that was the end of the drama for the day. Nope! We got back to the bus loop around 12:15pm, so there was enough time to chit-chat, say goodbyes, and eat our deliciously fattening fries. A CBS4 helicopter suddenly appears out of nowhere. Now a helicopter is usually no big deal since I-95 is right next to the school and there are always accidents and runaway criminals and whatnot, but this time the copter was hovering directly over the bus loop and circling the perimeter of the school. People start waving and such, I snap a picture (didn't come out too well). No one knows whats going on, by the way. All of the "trouble" is outside of the school. The rest of us were just locked in.

Just when we thought it was over, 2 cops on motorcycles pull up to the bus loop. Why? I don't know. Then, I turn to the left and 2 guys with bullet proof vests just seem to appear out of nowhere. It was weird. A few more buses arrive and then they suddenly take off without any notice. I barely made it (along with everyone else).

Still don't know what happened, if anything happened at all. Just glad to be far away from there.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thoughts

-School is practically over. With AP exams over, there is really nothing to do. It's a waste of energy going to that place everyday and then doing pretty much nothing.

-It all came so quickly (referring to the above). I forgot that with the end of the year comes losing another group of friends. Tuesday is the last day for seniors and it's only a half day. I should've made more friends with people my age (or in my grade, rather). Next year is going to be really lonely.

-I need a job. I want things. Things cost money. I don't have money. I should obtain money. I need a job.

-I've solidified and narrowed down all of the schools that I'm applying to in the fall and all of the things I need to do to better myself before then.
Appying to: MIT, Olin, UF, WPI, GaTech, RPI
Need to: Take Math II, Physics, US History, and Lit SAT Subjects Tests, Retake ACT, maybe take SAT, start apps in July/August, be done with everything before November

-Apparently there will be no official closing of the year event/ceremony/picnic or whatever for robotics this year. It's kind of weird. The last meeting was on Thursday, a lot of people are leaving. Next year should be...interesting.

-I think I'm going to get a bike. I feel really immobile and I'd like to go places. A car is out of the question, I don't even know how to drive yet. Also, just riding around for the heck of it seems fun.

-There was an absolute failed attempt at a food fight yesterday. Someone thought it would be brilliant to toss every box of condiments into the air, provoking a tidal wave of students that were waiting in line. Little did the mischievous one know that they'd soon be tackled down to the ground by security and administrators. Quite a site. Even funnier that this came after an announcement that "we know what's going on. don't even try anything! you'll be expelled, not suspended...expelled" said the voice from the back of the cafeteria.

-I talk about school too much.

-TV sucks. With 300+ channels, it's a shame that I can't find anything to watch.

-8 days of school left. Yay!

-It suddenly got really hot. It went from being cool in the mornings and then in the high 70s-mid 80s daily to suddenly being in the mid 90s, hot, sticky, and humid EVERY hour of EVERY day. Oh wait, I forgot that I lived in Florida.

-Guitar Hero IV looks lame. Blatant Rock Band knock off with the drums, mic, etc. The fact that a Lenny Kravitz song is in the trailer and possibly in the game is a appealing, but probably not enough to buy the entire set, maybe just the game. Somehow, I'm getting Guitar Hero Aerosmith when it comes out.

-I have nothing else to say. The end.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

15 Minutes

From AP exams to cheesy award ceremonies to the daily trials and tribulations, this week has been exhausting. I really am beginning to just hate the school I go to. Before it was just a dislike and I blamed myself for choosing to go there, but now I realize this place is seriously dysfunctional. 1 more year...

Tuesday was the AP Psych exam. I haven't really touched the material since January, and I had a brief refresher in mid-April. The morning before the exam I flipped through every single chapter of the book, looking over vocab words and such, which helped a bit. It's quite a coincidence that the single concept that DJ and I would repeatedly quiz our friends on actually appeared on the exam as an FRQ -- Cognitive Dissonance. I think I might've finished that question in 15 minutes...which is good because I spent about 30 on the other.
Me: Hey [person], are you ready for AP Psych?
Person: Yeah, I think so...
Me: What's cognitive dissonance then?
Person: uhhhhh??
Me: [explains]
This happened at least 3 or 4 times with about 3 different people. We joked about it after the exam (of course after the 48-hour limit :P). And no, I knew nothing about any exam materials before I saw them, please do not investigate my exam or call the Office of Testing Integrity. I guess College Board and I are even now for that horrible Vietnam essay in APUSH.

I wasn't really worried about English since I knew that you can't really study for the AP Lang exam. You either know it or you don't, and you pull from everything that you have learned to form logical conclusions. What I was more worried about was actually being able to take the exam. Somehow, there was an error on the school's behalf and they completely forgot to order my exam...only my exam. I have been registered in the course since the beginning of the school year, my teacher rechecked the list back in March, and I even went to the pre-registration. Exam day, I arrive and my name is not on the list. The guidance counselors there were quick to make it seem like it was my fault and turn me away before attempting to come up with a solution. They made it seem like I wouldn't be able to take the exam at all. I was forced to leave my seat and stand by a door while they "sorted things out". While the exam materials were being organized, one counselor went back to the office to check the validity of my enrollment, to no surprise was no different from what I told them. They then called my teacher, attempting to place the blame on her, but she also had the proof that she confirmed my name on an earlier list. Apparently my name magically disappeared somewhere in the process. I was told that I would just have to take the exam on May 21 and there would be a slight chance that someone wouldn't show up and there would be an extra exam, but it seemed unlikely as more people began trickling in. I was absolutely pissed. I didn't have anything for school that day, so I would be screwed in all of the rest of my classes and completely alone in English, besides the fact that I spent the entire night studying. I don't thinking I can accurately describe how I felt at that point. After 15 minutes in limbo, they decided to close the doors and do the official count. LUCKILY, a few people didn't show up and there was an extra exam. I was still a bit on edge and in no mood to take an exam after that scare (I tend to worry a lot), but somehow I calmed myself down as he stated "You may now open Section I and begin working for the next...".

The MC section was quite delightful. MUCH easier than all the practice material that we'd been exposed to, and NO ROMAN NUMERAL QUESTIONS! Hopefully CB outlaws those forever...I have never gotten one of those correct...ever. On most practice exams I'd only get 50-60% correct, but I'm a little more confident about this test. The Free-Response section has been posted if anyone is interested. I didn't have trouble with any of them, but the last one reminded me of an FCAT prompt way too much. It actually forced you to qualify this year for the argument essay, which made the argument a bit forced. Most of the essays seemed quite one-dimensional. I'm thinking 7/7/6 for my scores, though I'll never know.

On Thursday I had to stay after school for a robotics meeting. We were doing interviews for managers/officers for next year, and the last one dragged on waayyyy longer than it should've, isolating all but two people from the discussion. I don't think anyone else cared about the difference between natural and non-natural characters or textures in an animation, but whatever. We eventually got out of there around 4:40pm and made a mad dash to McDonalds in less than 2 minutes (It typically takes around 5 minutes to walk there, longer if you get stopped at the light). There was a promotion going on that day where you got a free Southern Style Chicken Sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large drink. For some reason, they were extremely slow and we didn't get out of there until 4:55pm. Activity buses usually leave exactly at 5:00pm. Uh-oh. We practically ran back to the school to the bus loop, and everyone was walking around so nonchalantly, most of the drivers not even in their buses. After all of that rush, my bus wasn't even there! Actually, it never showed up. Buses began taking off around 5:15pm and soon there was an almost-empty lot. After talking with security and another nice bus driver for 15 minutes, there was a solution. People from my bus were split off to two empty buses with other people that were bus-less that afternoon. There was only one person on my bus, so I got home the same time that I normally would've.

I didn't get to eat anything I had until I got home, but it was pretty good for McDonald's. I was expecting a glorified McChicken, but it was actually real chicken breast with a tasty breading. Clearly a Chik-Fil-A knock-off, it comes close enough to give them a run for their money, but nothing like the original. Now I have something else to eat at McDonald's besides snack wraps. Despite the not-so-awesome week, I still got free food, which is indeed awesome.