Friday, May 23, 2008


-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.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Coming Up for Air

It's been a rough week. Anxiety levels were highest last night when I'm sure my heart rate and blood pressure were way above the levels that they should've been.

I don't want to go into a "Top 10 Reasons Why Dillard Sucks" list, but this next item definitely ranks high. Typically, when there is an issue in the school, tardiness for example, it takes the administration quite a while to figure out a plan to curb the issue. Most of their methods are often counterproductive. Tardiness has been an issue for, I don't know...forever. They decided to target it now, the end of the school year, and the week of AP exams. So as of Monday, teachers are supposed to lock their doors promptly at 7:40am and send all of the scums of the earth that might have happened to be 30 seconds late to the cafeteria to receive a 45-minute lecture from the principal and their punishment. The second day, they made announcements all throughout the morning indicating the status of their tardiness enforcement plan...

7:40am, Male Voice: "Teachers, please lock your doors. Do not allow any students in at this time. Please send all tardy students to the cafeteria."

7:45am: Morning Announcements begin [10 Minutes]

8:35am, Mail Voice: "Teachers, please note that the tardy students have been released from the cafeteria, please allow them back to class on with a swipe pass (?)"

8:40am, Principal: "Teachers and students, please excuse this announcement [goes into 5 minute long speech about how tardiness is detrimental to learning blah blah we need cooperation of everyone blah blah I-like-to-waste-time-and-hear-my-own-voice-and-contradict-myself blah blah] Thank you."

Annoying. Luckily I had headphones on, so I turned up the volume attempting to drown them out, but it was still bothersome being interrupted every 30 minutes or so.

At the end of the day, they usually do afternoon announcements 5 minutes before the bell rings. For most classes, this is a sign to start wrapping everything up, putting away books, materials, logging out etc. For some reason, they decided to start making announcements at 2:25pm, completely disrupting the end of the lesson.

2:25pm, Male Voice: "Teachers and students, please be advised that tardiness is disruptive to the learning environment. Students - please arrive to school on time, and teachers - please lock your doors promptly after the second bell rings."

Hey, you know what else is disruptive to the learning environment!?

2:30pm, Another Male Voice: [random announcement about not bring electronic devices to school or using them; must be in the off position]

2:35pm: Afternoon Announcements

By the time all of this talking was over, it was impossible to finish the assignment, thus forcing us to carry it over to the next day and delay further exam preparation. Thanks, administration for all those useful announcements!


So, today was the day that I had to face my greatest fear this year...the AP US History exam. There was a lot of history that we didn't cover in class that I knew would be exam, and I had no idea how I would learn it all in such a short period of time. I spent most of this week reviewing what I could but after taking a practice test on Tuesday/Wednesday and getting only like 20 points, I was devastated. I spent Thursday night reading the entire Princeton Review prep. FOUR hours straight of pure reading. Magically, I was absorbing it all. 100 years of history in four hours. I took one of the practice tests at the back of the book and felt a lot better. I didn't properly score it with penalties and such, but I checked my answers and I was satisfied. Much better than the 20 points I scored the day before. Although I was a little more confident, there was one area of history that I still wasn't sure about and I knew it was my weakness, but it seemed relatively recent, so I doubted it would be prominent on the exam. In the morning, I reviewed material from the AMSCO book to refresh what I learned last night. I still was uncomfortable about the area that I was a little unsure about. Funny little anecdote -- During the county's AP Review back on April 12, DJ and I were both clueless during the APUSH session. For some reason, the instructor kept bringing up The Gilded Age. Having never heard of this and feeling completely lost, we both looked it up as soon as we got back to school. It was still kind of vague since we barely reached the era preceding it, but I fully understood it after last night. this morning, every time I flipped open my book, it opened to "Chapter 19: The Gilded Age, Politics and..." I took it as some sort of omen.

7:50am, we all get seated to take the exam. In typical Dillard fashion, it seemed unorganized, behind schedule, and overall just chaotic. Being my first AP exam, I was a little nervous, yet determined. The MC questions were surprisingly easy...easier than the practice test we took at school, easier than the PR practice tests, and easier than the AMSCO sample questions. I was shocked...and delighted. I only skipped 10 questions, and I predict that I may get a few wrong, so that brings my score to around 65/80 with penalties. I calculated this during the test to figure out how important my essay scores would be. I desperately hoping that that section in history that I didn't know to well wouldn't be on the essay portion, but low and behold, when I opened the book, the DBQ was that one event that I just did not grasp too well. The other FRQs were fine, we actually spent quite a bit of time reviewing it in class the day before, so I was pretty confident. I can't be specific since I'm not allowed to discuss the questions at the moment due to College Board's 48 hour confidentiality agreement. I managed to pull something of worth together for the DBQ, and I ended up being satisfied with the 3 pages I wrote by the time I reread it, especially since I underestimated what I knew. Hopefully I was going in the right direction. I used every minute (except 5 to proofread) of the 1 hours and 55 minutes given! I was exhausted by the time the exam ended, being that I have never sat and just wrote 7 pages worth of...stuff...before. Looking around after the exam, most people had given up, not even attempting the FRQs. Oh well... I used a pre-made worksheet online to figure out my potential score, and it's looking a lot brighter for me than I thought. Wednesday and Thursday, I thought I was ultimately screwed and bound to fail. Today, I'm pretty sure that I passed, and I might be able to pull a 4.

One thing that really ticked me was the interruptions during the exam. I understand that the bell schedules can't be changed since the rest of the school must still function, but the phone rang 4 times, other students interrupted several times during the exam, thinking that their class was still taking place there and then loudly communicating with the guidance counselor from across the room, and oh yeah...another announcement. I was 2/3 through the last FRQ with 15 minutes remaining and an announcement comes on to indicate that there is something going on for Teacher's Appreciation Week. They've been announcing it all week, and no offense to teachers, but that was really annoying and disruptive. It was so unexpected while I was "in the zone" and completely disrupted my thought process, many others agree. A lot of AP teachers called and made complaints all week long, pleading them not to make announcements between 8 and 12, but everyday, there was some useless announcement made during that time. Thanks again for your very useful information, voices behind the intercom!

Now I'm relieved since my hardest exam is over. Psych should be easy and I'm sure I can handle English. I think I'm going to play Guitar Hero, I haven't touched it in weeks.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


This past week has been crazy. I think I've crammed more English and History into my head than my brain cares to process. I'm sure millions of students across the globe are going through the same thing...preparing for the dreaded AP exams next week and the following week.

Surprisingly, I've managed to effectively use my time this weekend thus far. Yesterday I worked a bit on my site, which I'll speak a bit about later. Today, I goofed around on the Internet a bit, and then did an AP Psych practice test, some AP Lang multiple choice questions, got some physics done, and now I'm taking a little break. I've been doing pretty well on the Psych MCs and I've recognized all of the topics in the previous year's FRQs that I've studied. I still have to study for APUSH, but it just seems so intimidating, with so much more left to learn. The exam is this Friday =/. Somehow I'll force myself to do it....

For a while I've wanted a place to showcase some of the random things I've done and projects that I've worked on, sort of like a portfolio. Its kind of just something I wanted to do for myself to document my past, but then I realized that it could probably be useful for putting in the 'Additional Information' sections of college applications to show more of me than what a few sheets of paper can reveal. I was planning on making it a project for the summer since I have nothing else to do, but I got bored on Tuesday after finding out that I had no homework, so out of the blue I just threw something together. It's coming along rather nicely. I still need to find a host and come up with a domain name. Perhaps I'll include a sneak peak when it has more content.

Yesterday I received my free copy of SolidWorks Student Edition 2007 in the mail, thanks to the Robotics Summer School that SolidWorks is putting together for this summer. The first 2000 to sign up got a free copy (I signed up about a week ago) and I think anyone can participate. Each week from July-August they are going to put up lessons, tutorials, and other stuff in an online learning environment. Sounds cool; I've wanted to learn SolidWorks for a while, especially since I've heard that it's way better than Inventor.

Yay for a productive weekend!