Seventh Grade Reflection

When I started 7th grade in August, I expected the year to be extremely brutal. In the first week, I had to turn in two essays. That’s a little…excessive. Along with those essays, Pre-AP Algebra was churning out homework faster than a factory in China, not to mention the supposed large quantity of work you had to do in a language course. Initially, I thought this was going to be a loooooong year.

However, I later found out that significant amounts of hard work mitigated the difficulty of 7th grade significantly. Occasionally, I found the homework assignment to be quite fun, or at least simple. Despite that, there was still that piece of math homework or a project that would swallow up my time and/or was nearly impossible to complete. It also turns out that the extra work that needed to be done caused me to end up sleeping less and less. When my circadian clock gets disrupted, my brain no longer functions properly, and I get really cranky.

I can say for sure that 7th grade was odd, and I passively or actively experienced middle school drama (though watching the drama of my peers was sometimes slightly amusing). I also learned numerous things, some of which include:

  • that Spanish is an awesome, interesting, and easy course to take. My tongue still suffers from violent muscular spasms when I attempt to roll my r’s, though.
  • that I’m not super terrible and Algebra, surprisingly. That doesn’t mean it is an effortless experience, though.
  • a few shortcuts to get to my classes
  • that it takes a lot of work to get into All-Region for orchestra.
  • that you should set your mind and try to think positively when confronted with a major issue.
  • a bit more stuff related to science, and that dissecting things like chicken wings and deer hearts rank as one of my most favorite things this year (though 7th grade science could use a little more chemistry and physics).

Now that 7th grade is nearly over, I have some advice to share with the 6th graders that are about to come in.

First, work hard and try to reach a balance between work speed and work quality. Too much of one will typically compromise the other. Also, try to keep your mind open and be sure to talk to lots of people. You might make a new friend. Finally, those in double-advanced math should study a lot and ask tons of questions. Pre-AP Algebra will be demanding and difficult, and if you try to shrug it off and not put some effort, you will be destined to fail. And most importantly, have lots of fun!



If you want to know what makes an exceptional leader, just take the three principles of the Boy Scout honor society known as the Order of the Arrow (which I was recently inducted into). Simply put, they are cheerfulness, service, and brotherhood. All three of these traits help define a good leader.

First up, cheerfulness. No one likes a leader who is pessimistic and tries to evade his duties. A good leader has to keep a smile on his face and do his duty to guide the other people and help out when he has to, even when the task ahead seems daunting. During the Ordeal, which is the ordeal you have to go through before you can get inducted, you have to spend hours in arduous labor and eat tiny amounts of food. This is to test your cheerfulness. All of us Scouts in the Ordeal were tired and hungry when we were working, but we all tried our best to keep a smile on our face and continue.

Service is the second important trait to have in a leader. In other words, will he put aside his personal interests for the sake of other people? If he or she is capable of doing so, that person will make a fine leader. For example, imagine that you’re at a campout. It’s nighttime, it’s about to rain, you could go ahead and sleep cozily in your tent. Then, you notice some people struggling to properly set up their tent. Will you go and assist them, and potentially get a little wet, or leave them to fend for themselves? The choice is yours.

Lastly, there’s brotherhood. A leader must remain friendly to his peers, and guide, help, and work along with them. During the Ordeal, most of us worked together at some point to accomplish some task, be it pulling out a root or cutting down a tree in the middle of the path. If someone needed assistance, we went right there to help them. Once we had completed the task, we high-fived each other for a job well done.

There are numerous other things that help define a leader, though I feel that these are some of the most important. Remember to be active in what ever job or task you’re in, and keep a smile on your face. After all, it’s possible that in the future, you may be the person that everyone relies on to get everything completed.



Homework, I Love You…


Homework, I love you. I think that you’re great.
It’s wonderful fun when you keep me up late.
I think you’re the best when I’m totally stressed,
preparing and cramming all night for a test.

Homework, I love you. What more can I say?
I love to do hundreds of problems each day.
You boggle my mind and you make me go blind,
but still I’m ecstatic that you were assigned.

Homework, I love you. I tell you, it’s true.
There’s nothing more fun or exciting to do.
You’re never a chore, for it’s you I adore.
I wish that our teacher would hand you out more.

Homework, I love you. You thrill me inside.
I’m filled with emotions. I’m fit to be tied.
I cannot complain when you frazzle my brain.
Of course, that’s because I’m completely insane.

This poem, since I first encountered it in the third or fourth grade, has remained one of my favorites. It perfectly illustrates the point of view of a person who sometimes enjoys doing homework and at the same time, absolutely despises it but is powerless to not do it. It’s also quite humorous at times, and the last two lines, ” I cannot complain when you frazzle my brain. Of course, that’s because I’m completely insane,” sometimes applies to me, specifically when I do certain species of math homework.


Challenge Weeks 4 and 5: Toy Airplanes

When I was little, I just couldn’t do without my toy airplanes. They were what my primitive child mind considered a necessity, before I learned about carbohydrates, water, protein, and– you get the idea. It was my favorite toy, and every single day, I got some out of my massive box of them and frolicked around with them.

  Now, the jets didn’t have anything real special, like voices, flashy lights, sound effects, and that sort of stuff. That, though, is how they appeared superficially. In my mind, while I was playing with them, a group of tiny F-14 Tomcats was a crucial component of a carrier air wing, poised to defend the country and the task force from any potential hazards, not some small piece of metal or plastic with a paint job slapped on it. A toy P-51 Mustang was the aircraft of a decorated American ace, and I spent some time with it downing make-believe Nazi fighters.

  Those planes remain as one of my favorite toys of my childhood, and I played with them for several years. Unfortunately for the planes, some broke from simple wear and tear, while others were destroyed when I accidentally dropped them, turning to pieces like a real jet falling from the sky and crashing in a fiery explosion. I still think of those planes that simply vanished from my collection, which are probably gathering dust, getting soaked, and possibly rusting in some random location, almost like a decommissioned military plane sitting in a scrapyard.

  They wouldn’t be forgotten, though.

  At some other point in my life, I discovered these awesome paper models of famous fighter jets, and the best part? They could actually soar in the skies, which the toy planes could only dream of truly doing. I got a few models and assembled them, in memory of the old toy airplanes I played with when I was a kid.




Three of my paper jets :).

Challenge Week 3:My Five Favorite Apps

“Yeah, try all you can, but not of you mobs will make even a tiny breach in my impregnable fortress!” After the successful construction effort, I glanced at the clock.Oh, I should probably start my project now, I thought. Fortunately, I knew just what program to use. Recreational or educational, here’s a list of my five favorite apps.

1. Steam- An online gaming platform, Steam contains hundreds of games for purchase or for free, especially those made by the awesome game developers at Valve. You can make an infinite falling portal loop (as most people probably know about), build a crazy mechanical contraption and then color it purple, construct a teleporter logistics system along with an impenetrable sentry gun emplacement, or send Mars-sized planets to destroy Earth in a cataclysmic explosion. You can also chat with your friends, trade items and send gifts with them, and make some game recommendations too.

2. Minecraft- This definitely deserves a spot on here, as it’s one of the most creative and enjoyable games to play. You can construct a giant mansion, go on a massive mining operation to drain the area of minerals, build a sniping tower, enchant a diamond sword, or go on a crusade to eliminate the Ender Dragon, the “final” boss. After all that, along with other stuff I haven’t mentioned is done, you can install certain mods and modpacks, like Feed the Beast and Flan’s Mods, to open up an entirely new world. If you can code with Java, you can make your own!

3. Calculator Apps- For those in Pre-AP Algebra who have their calculator license, there may have been several instances in which the calculator saved you from having to write long chains of numbers to solve a problem, or when it involves radicals. While a TI is superior (a crafty person can even code Pong or download Mario on it), a calculator app is easier to access and it’s free.

4. Adobe Reader- While you can’t really edit a PDF, it does eliminate the remote possibility of accidentally deleting everything on it, and it’s a little more secure. Mainly, I use it to print out these files of paper airplane parts, which when assembled together, make amazing paper airplanes in terms of aesthetics and flight quality(I might do a post on this later).

5. WolframAlpha- This app contains the answer to *almost* everything! You can solve complex math equations, look at the periodic table and social studies facts, see the chemical composition of a super complex molecule like titin, or see how atoms in everyday molecules bond together. It also is willing to admit that human stupidity is limitless (but that’s what allows us to learn, right?).

All in all, these are my top five apps. Give them a try, as they are extremely fun and useful, and I think you’ll find them the same way too.

However, there is one special type of computer with apps that no one really acknowledges as a computer, even though it keeps them alive and allows them to think. If you haven’t guessed, it is…

6. The brain and all its parts and lobes- You’re probably thinking, “This isn’t really a type of computer! Why is it here?” Well, the cerebrum is like a computer’s hard drive, CPU, and graphics card, and the cerebellum and brain stem are like the subtle programs on your computer that manages the hardware usage and processes (like involuntary body actions) and keep it from overheating and shutting off (or dying, in terms of organisms). Clicking on Netflix to watch some Star Trek is like the brain sending an impulse to some muscles so that they can move. So, be sure to thank the brain for making sure you are a living, sentient organism, and giving you the ability to write this post!




Challenge Week 2: My Favorite Place in Austin

A light breeze blows. The deep blue sky is dotted with puffy white clouds that look like cotton balls. Light radiates off the verdant green grass. This picturesque paradise is Zilker Park, one of my favorite places to go to in Austin, Texas.

For one thing, the fields in Zilker Park have some of the most lush grasses I’ve ever seen. They’re extremely soft, and perfect for running through or playing a game of soccer. Sometimes, in the early-mid morning, you can see tiny droplets of dew clinging to those green blades, with the light radiantly reflecting off the water drops. When you sprint through them, wearing shoes or not, you can feel the cool dew soak your feet and lower legs, which is one of the most refreshing things I’ve ever felt.

When the Texas heat turns you into a walking popsicle and your internal organs feel like they will get charred like they’re on a rotisserie, Barton Springs Pool is the best place to just dive in and start splashing around. The water is perfectly clear and a great shade of greenish-blue, and it’s extremely cold–but isn’t that what you want when the weather is scorching? Also, another cool thing about Barton Springs Pool is that beneath all those rocks, there’s a special type of exotic blind salamander that only lives here.

Finally, the surrounding trails and Lady Bird(or Town) Lake are an excellent to go jogging and get some exercise, or just walking around and enjoying the scenery. One of my favorite things to do there is to walk to this spot on the shore of the lake, where there are plenty of boulders to sit on. There, you can admire the blue waters and the tiny microcosm of an ecosystem. Usually, you can see some turtles and lots of fish, both tiny or huge. Alternatively, you can continue walking along the trail, enjoying the plants that are busy photosynthesizing and the company of other people. Finally, if you complete one full circle, I suggest you stand on the large bridge over the lake, near the parking areas. There, you can let the forceful yet gentle(and let’s not forget cool) breeze cool you down, while you take in a deep breath and forget all the troubles of the world or the noisiness of the city.

All in all, if you come to Austin, Texas, you must visit Zilker Park. You can enjoy doing plenty of different activities, go swimming in the Barton Springs Pool, and visit a lot of other close-by areas like the Zilker Botanical Gardens, and many other nearby places (there’s a lot, so I’m not going to mention every single one). So, please, visit Zilker Park if you ever come here!


The Phantom’s Lair

Significados ocultos: AMOR
You will now sing only my music,” the Phantom’s soft yet commanding voice said as he and a dazed Christine entered a dim, reclusive dwelling.

  Massive stone walls towered above the Phantom and Christine, amplifying the Phantom’s voice. In various sections of his lair, candles flickered, with some getting extinguished, dimming the dark lair even more. As the Phantom led Christine over to his immense organ, a small lake of water with a petite raft came into view. The torches and candles faintly illuminated the lake, with dazzling silver glints barely visible, yet sharply contrasting the dark atmosphere. Small dust clouds billowed up as they walked, and the occasional rat hurriedly scurried about, their frantic, unpredictable squeaks being the only source of sound, other than the two’s barely audible and almost nonexistent sounds emanating from the two’s footsteps . While Christine was slightly startled, the Phantom continued on, nonchalant to the whole situation.

  Soon the two arrived in front of a massive, white organ. Large deposits of dust and dirt had settled on the organ, untouched, with long, slender, green vines of ivy climbing up and down the huge structure, giving the impression of an area that had never known another soul besides the Phantom. With one, swift motion of his cape, the Phantom swept away the deposits, creating a cloud of swirling, rapidly dissipating particles, along with a vortex of cool, moist air, with droplets that clung to Christine and chilled her slightly.

Sit here,” the Phantom commanded. Christine obeyed, as she was still trapped in her trance-like state. The Phantom walked to the organ, sat down, and played a note, which rang out in the crisp, silent atmosphere. Another followed. And another. Soon, a marvelous melody was flowing from the organ, like a cascade of water droplets flowing from a mountain summit.

  Then the Phantom began to sing.

  “Turn your face away from the garish light of day, turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light.” The Phantom’s loud voice boomed, the sound of it resonating on the loud walls. The candles placed around the Phantom suddenly flared up, a dazzling orange glow showering the Phantom, the organ, and the walls, almost breathing an entirely new life into the room. The glow also illuminated the Phantom himself, and a piercing, sharp white mask became visible, changing everything around again, and revealing to Christine just exactly what she was dealing with. Christine, still trapped in her trance-like state, slowly crept up to the Phantom, wondering just what her “Angel of Music’s” mask hid…

  Unaware that is was a cold and contorted face and soul.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Zahira via Compfight Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Zahira via Compfight

Why iPads are Awesome

“Yes, I finally completed this course under par!” I yelled in victory. “Good morning, class, take out your iPads, we’ll be doing our warm-up on our iPad.” Yaaay, I thought. Well, at least I don’t have to write this on paper. iPads are pretty awesome and useful, or at least for me.

For one thing, they fair pretty well as a resource for research, doing schoolwork, or organizing all your files and games like Super Stickman Golf 2. It’s much easier to look up what you need for that Texas History paper on an iPad, than to take out that lumbering textbook and flip through it. It’s also pretty easy to keep everything organized in places like Google Drive, since one section of my binder is a catastrophic paper mess. For me, it’s also easier to type everything rather than painstakingly write it out on a piece of paper. The only downside to this is the hard-to-work-with and glitchy textboxes in DocAS.

The second and just as important reason is that it’s a great tool for entertainment. You can play such “classics” like Minecraft, Plague Inc., Super Stickman Golf 2, or something really dumb(but entertaining) like Flappy Bird or Ironpants(which is essentially Flappy Bird on performance-enhancing and hallucinogenic drugs). What? Oh, sorry about that. Anyways, when you’re done with all your schoolwork, nothing beats playing a little game on your iPad, provided that you don’t get too distracted by it.

While iPads can be a major distraction for some people, for me they have been great in keeping me organized, able to do my work and research, and entertained.

Now it’s time to hope that iOS 8 can remedy the catastrophic fail that was iOS 7. 



Snow(more like Ice) Days

“DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, ALL SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED TODAY.” For some, that means anything from joy to salvation from some upcoming test. To me, it’s one of the worst days of the year. I really despise snow(well, more like ice) days.

For one thing, they can really screw up the school schedule. For example, an upcoming test can be rescheduled a billion times. While that can be beneficial if it’s like a test that you still need to study for, in other cases, like that science test in which I felt confident I knew everything about it, it was really annoying. Also, I’m pretty sure if you were looking forward to something in school, whatever it may be, I don’t think you’d like to have that rescheduled 10 quadrillion times.

Second of all, is the worst part(get ready)– WE HAVE TO TAKE A REPLACEMENT DAY! It isn’t an extra day off, it’s more like “We decided to celebrate the school-off day from President’s Day right now. When President’s Day does roll around, you’ll have to go to school. Too bad for you!” Ugh. Subsequently, the replacement days are probably going to mess up someone’s summer schedule plan, as we have to take an extra day of school in June! I’m pretty sure barely anyone will show up for that replacement day.

Although we could have a ton of other discussions on this, such as “Why don’t we give our school buses some better tires,” or “Why don’t we find some way to deal with some tiny patch of ice instead freaking out about it,” let’s keep everything simple by just saying that I really really really don’t like snow days, and loathe the replacement days more.

Why I Hate Pep Rallies

Welcome to the XXXth West Ridge Pep Rally! Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah…..” I sat on the bleachers, brain cells dying every nanosecond as I listened to all the noise and people droning on. Really, is there a good point to these? I hate pep rallies so much!

First of all, pep rallies are loud. Extremely loud. All that yelling and screaming really hurts my ears, and the band playing(no offence intended), microphone mishaps, along with a billion other sounds combine to make one painful cacophony. I’d much rather listen to a jet engine roaring as the aircraft soars into the sky, and after a pep rally, I have to spend a few minutes trying to restore my hearing as it was before this horrid event.

As well as being ear-shattering loud, the second reason I dislike them is probably my main reason-they’re too boring. I’m not really THAT interested in how our school’s doing in football or something like that, nor do I really care that much about the competitions in them-well, to be fair, they can be mildly amusing at times, so it is a minute positive. Besides that though, there’s not really anything that I’m interested in, which, perception wise, stretches the pep rally out longer than it should be.

Last of all, pep rallies are time-consuming. Tying in with the boredom reason and perception distortion, it also stretches out the time immensely: five minutes can feel like twenty. The other main issue is that there’s no advisory-meaning less time to do homework, or in mine and several other peoples’ cases, no UIL meeting. While sacrificing something educational like how to find the energy generated by a collision of a gram of matter and antimatter or something like that, no one likes having less time to do the form of torture that should be banned by the Geneva Convention: homework.

All in all, I simply just don’t like pep rallies, even though you get to miss like forty-five minutes of school. They may be a good place to chat with friends and build school spirit, but for me, they aren’t that amazing and are a waste of time.