Saturday, April 26, 2008

YouTube Weekend

...I can already feel it coming.

For now I'll leave you with one of my own...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 FIRST Robotics Championships

Two days later, I've finally rested up and resumed normal life (even though I missed school because I overslept today). Here goes...

We left Fort Lauderdale around 10:30am. I've flown to Atlanta from Fort Lauderdale like a bajillion times, this was no different. We arrived in Atlanta at exactly 11:59am. We were greeted at baggage claim with:

We also had to wait a while for our shuttle to show up, enough time for some cool pictures

This year when we arrived at The Westin, our rooms weren't ready, so we had to store our bags before we parted ways to explore the city. A few of us went to the Georgia Aquarium, others went to The World of Coke and Five Points.

There is one word to describe the aquarium...amazing. I've wanted to go since it opened last year. The fish were really cool and all, but what I was more impressed with was the methods in which they were displayed. A lot of the tanks were surrounded by glass ~5 inches thick, which slightly distorted the image.

these things were the coolest
who doesn't love jellyfish?
and penguins!
There was also a neat part where you could crawl under and stand in a tube-like structure among the penguins. We were entertained. For me, seeing live penguins was totally worth $27 alone. Don't ask how much I'd pay to see or touch a giraffe.

future Gator?At the aquarium, I also got to pet sharks and stingrays, sit on cool modern furniture, and confirm my thoughts about not eating seafood :). Wednesday was a beautiful day in downtown Atlanta. We cut across Centennial Park to get back to our hotel, and it seemed like a scene out of a movie -- kids playing in the playground and in the fountain, people playing football, frisbee, reading books, tanning. That night we went out to Durangos, a steak house, for dinner. It Just an overpriced Applebee's/Chili's/Friday's. This year we were on the 62nd floor (only 10 away from the top!) with an amazing view. It was great waking up and going to sleep seeing all (most) of Atlanta beneath you.

we have taken over!
Taking up the entire Georgia Dome and 3 parts of the Georgia World Congress Center, the 2008 FIRST Robotics World Championship is underway! We met the New Zealand principal that we would be hosting for the weekend shortly after entering the pits. Since there will be an FRC Regional there in 2009, a few teams were asked to host a visiting group of New Zealanders. They wore hats with kiwis on top, thus a possible nickname for their regional and theme for many teams, the Kiwi Regional. It was great talking to him, explaining a bit of FIRST and the way we do things while hearing about other cultures and school systems at the same time. Our practice matches went pretty well, but didn't work out too well since everyone was interested in testing out their own features instead of playing with the alliance...we didn't get the ball much.

That night we went to Benihana for dinner. It was so highly anticipated, but unfortunately sub-par. Still fun, I guess. Curfews suck. I barely got to use the Internet since it cost $16/day for the room, though free in the lobby, and we were forced into our rooms at 11pm.

Let the games begin! Officially, at least. Guess who showed up to support FIRST...

Former President George Bush
During his speech, he made the statement that might just as well be the new motto for FIRST. Team 1649 (who just happened to be our alliance partner in the eliminations) even made buttons with the phrase, and Dean Kamen was wearing one the next day.
"FIRST is like the WWF, but for smart people." - George Bush
Qualifying matches started, though they didn't go too well for us. Our robot performed the best it has ever been, averaging over 40 points per match alone, but not so great alliances murdered our ranking. We lost EVERY single match on Friday, more matches than we'd lost in qualifying ALL season long. The mood wasn't that great on the team, though we knew we were performing well, so we still had a chance.

While I was supposed to be eating lunch, I stopped by Scholarship Row to talk to a few colleges and see about some of the new FIRST scholarships being offered. I checked out WPI and RPI, didn't get a chance to get to the MIT table because it was too crowded, but spent a while talking to the nice representative from Olin. I am in love with this school. And guess what, they have admissions blogs too! I think it's #2 on my list now...right below MIT, but more on that later.

I met up with my cousin, Dorienne, that afternoon for a while before heading off to dinner with the team. AZIO! We've gone to this restaurant every year, and it is a pretty darn good Italian restaurant.

The Saturday of any robotics competition is always the busiest, except at the championships, it x5 more busier, with 4 divisions running eliminations at the same time, all leading up to the finals on Einstein. We played 2 matches on Saturday, finally winning our last match and reversing our previous regional record of winning all but one match.

We were a bit worried about getting picked for eliminations, so right after our last match, we went back to the pits to "sell" ourselves to other teams. In doing so, we realized that alliance selection had already started, so Jhon and I made a mad dash from the pits back to the dome. Jhon could run faster than I could, so he was there to accept if we were picked, which we were! I suddenly received all types of phone calls from people in the stands "WHERE ARE YOU GUYS!?" lol. He arrived just in time. We were the second pick of the #7 alliance with 1649 and 527. The eliminations didn't go too well, we were up against a tough alliance of 33-45-2337. We didn't think we had much of a chance without great strategy and cooperation from all of our alliance partners, but unfortunately that didn't happen. One of our partners was a bit of a ball hog with a really slow ball-pickup method. It slowed us down a lot, I don't think we even hurdled in the first match. The second match was a bit of a mess too. We played to the best of our abilities given the circumstances, but even still our alliance wasn't tight and we made a few bad decisions as to how we scored. We were done for the season. We packed up the crate and headed out to watch the finals. By no surprise, the HOT alliance won.

After the Curie division finals ended, Gustavo and I left to sit in the students' section where two representatives from each team were to sit in case we won an award. These just happened to be the absolute BEST seats in the house, right in between the main stage and Einstein, so we could see the final matches clearly and see the speakers, Dean, Woody, and all the big wigs up close. The finals were intense. The semifinal matches seem so good that they should've been the finals. The 1114-217-148 alliance was the alliance that everyone had been dreaming of since regionals started, and they came together from Galileo and hurdled (quite literally) their way to the top. Congrats to them! It was quite a show.

The fun didn't end there. After spending a good 15 minutes getting out of the Dome, up the packed escalators, through the crowds, and to Centennial Park, I finally got into the social with a few other team members. The rest of our team was faaar behind, being that they were sitting over by Curie. The food sucked as usual, the entertainment was a little interesting, and the bounce houses, carnival games, prizes, glowsticks and lighty things, and FIRST drag race were all fun, but nothing compared to the karaoke tent. Once we found that, we were there until the end. The request list was pretty long, so we didn't sign up to sing, but we still sang along with everyone else, jumping around in the dry fountain. The last song was "Thanks for the Memories" followed by the fireworks. Pretty nice ending. As usual, the fireworks were great, and the reflections off the sides of the various large downtown buildings were even cooler.

Back at the hotel we continued with the party, turning one of the rooms into a rave, complete with glowsticks and techno! It was more of a one/two-person rave, but we all had fun. I had no intention of falling asleep at 12 because I wanted to pack and take more pictures, but fatigue apparently has more power than intent.

So now it's all over, back to normal life (as if I had one). Pictures from the entire weekend are here, here, and here.

HEY I JUST NOTICED....108th POST! w00t w00t!
awesome coincidence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I didn't get into MITES.

Sucks =/

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Goodbye Procrastination?

It's a Sunday, minutes before midnight, I have school tomorrow, and all of my homework is done. Amazing. Simply amazing. It's a pretty good feeling knowing that I don't have leftover work to cram in tomorrow.

The AP Review yesterday was pretty helpful. It confirmed that I knew pretty much all that I needed to know for AP English and AP Psych, but also confirmed that I'm absolutely "gescrewed" for AP US History. I was most surprised to hear that I'd previously been told just blatantly wrong information by teachers that could've really affected my score, such statements as "You must use..." or "Never...". Hmmpf. I have no idea how I'm ever going to cram in 150 more years of history in less than a month.

I'm really excited for the Championships this week, but not too excited about all of the stuff I need to do before I leave. I just realized that I only have one day left to do an entire week's worth of work. I honestly planned to get through most of this week's work ahead of time so that I wouldn't have a mountain load of work when I got back. Not gonna happen...

Friday, April 11, 2008


This week has been intense. More work in every class that I could've ever imagined. What an interesting way to start off the semester. Some of the huge loads:

AP Lang: Essays daily, multiple weekly tests, 2 books to read at home, 1 in class, hundred of vocabulary words...ALL AT THE SAME TIME

AP US History: There's no way possible that our class can finish the book. I guarantee most of the students in my class won't pass the exam. Yay for my PR prep book instead! Nonetheless, the workload as still increased like x2 in the past week.

Robotics Research VI: Finally a robotics class that encompasses the 'research' title. We have to pick an Advanced Research Project, with our topic due today and then for the rest of the semester we're doing smaller research projects and other projecty things that will lead up to our ARP. I also have to somehow chronicle my experiences in the tech program for the past 3 years into a newsletter for my final portfolio by the end of school today...

The county's AP Review is this Saturday, so hopefully I'll gain some confidence as to how I'll do in May...or I'll become extremely depressed. Regardless, I'll continue to work my ass off for the next month.

FIRST Championships are next week! Next week this time I'll be in ATL, hopefully sleeping, prepping for the first day of qualifying matches. Divisions came out two days ago also and we're in Curie again. It doesn't look scary like Galileo does, but there is still a share of pretty competitive teams. We leave in 5 days!

But what I'm really most excited about is MITES decisions! According to people on CC that have called or been accepted and what not, decisions were mailed two days ago, which means they should be here REALLY soon! Hopefully I can find out by phone today? I'm flipping out now...

Monday, April 7, 2008

It's Over

Spring Break is official over. It's Monday. I have to go to school in a few hours. Boo.

It seems impossible to get through this APUSH work. I know I hate history and the way this book is written in certain sections, but this has been the worse ever. I'm using my Princeton Review guidebook to sum up what the chapter has covered, but then the American Pageant Guidebook asks so many weird nitpicky questions that I then have to go and hunt for within the chapter. I can't win. I'll finish eventually... Maybe I'll take a break from this and flashcardize some English stuff.
Flashcardize: to take words from the Poetry & Prose vocabulary packet or other novel vocabulary sheets of Mrs. Dinlocker's class and tranfer them into self-created Microsoft Word based flashcard templates to be printed, cut, and memorized.

From Noelle's Made-Up-Words, Vol. 2

Yesterday I went out with a few friends to Sawgrass. Usually this place is packed with teenagers in front of the movie theater and sprinkled throughout the Oasis, food court, and the rest of the mall. For a Saturday night during Spring Break, it was relatively empty. It was a bit late, but I expected more. Where did all the teenagers go?! We went to Gameworks, where we played DDR, only to get extremely tired, and then to the movies to see 21 finally. It wasn't as bad as some have said it is, but now I want to play blackjack (I knew how to play before the movie though).

4.5 hours to get 2 chapters of APUSH and a page of English vocab done... Is there a way to temporarily block myself from YouTube, Chief Delphi, College Confidential, and Facebook?

EDIT: 3:41am, DONE!!

Friday, April 4, 2008


It's 4am...where did the time go? Where did my Spring Break go? I vividly remember when it was last Thursday and I was relieved to be home from school for a week. I remember when it was 1am and The Boondocks ended and I was planning on going to sleep within the hour. How the hell did it get to be 4am Friday morning?

Looking at the clock and shockingly seeing 4 there reminded me of a TED Talk we watched in Interactive Design last semester about 4am. It's one of my favorites...

Apparently 4am is the new midnight, the most ungodly hour known to man. Midnight is nothing now! I love the "Coincidence? No, it's creepy!" lol.

Today I finally purchased my AP US History review book (Princeton Review is a lifesaver) so that I won't fail the AP exam. All of my other AP classes have been progressing fine, and I feel as if I'll be prepared for the exam, but this one is insanely far behind. I found out from some people online that most classes in the United States are around Ch. 30ish in the American Pageant; we're on 13 =/. There are 41 chapters worth of stuff that need to be shoved into my brain, and I only have 12! So now I have to cram with PR's summaries instead of learning everything the right way. Talk about poor course planning. Sucks for the rest of my class, though they probably don't care anyway. I'm hoping for a 3 or 4.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fool's 08

I'm a little late, but I had an awesome day on the Internet looking for Easter Eggs and getting pranked by dozens of sites.

I knew Google had something up their sleeve, so I actually went looking for these around 1am last night. Checked Gmail first, and of course there was something new.

Gmail Custom Time
- allows you to send emails from the past.

How does it work? - Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality
Virgle - found it through YouTube in an announcement from Larry Page and Sergey Brin about a settlement on Mars in a partnership with Virgin. Pretty entertaining.

Google Wake Up Kit - sends SMS messages to wake you up, getting more aggressive with each message, ultimately resulting in water-dumping and bed-flipping.

YouTube - linked all videos featured on the front page to Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, rickrolling masses of people.

xkcd forwarded to Questionable Content which forwarded to Dinosaur Comics which forwarded to xkcd. Confusing for a second, but I eventually caught on after QC went to Dino Comics.

Think Geek
- loads of new items, from a USB Pregnancy Test to Caffeinated Cereal to a Betamax to HD-DVD converter to a new Wii game, Super Pii Pii Brothers.

College Humor - claims that College Humor was bought by some rich guy for his spoiled brat daughter, and College Humor is now her MySpace page.

Even Blogger had to throw something in. When I came to write this entry, there was a new announcement about Google Weblogs. When you click 'Check it out' or something like that, you are forwarded to a YouTube video, not only getting rickrolled, but getting rickrolled by Tay Zonday (the Chocolate Rain guy)!

I know there are tons more out there, but these were some of my favorites. I'm surprised that no hacks have been reported from MIT yet...