New tagline for my website. Just kidding.
Here’s my first blog post in two months. Naturally, since I have to summarize two months of my life in one blog post, I will be referring to my trusty agenda while recalling important events. So here we go.
The most recent thing since my last post was, of course, the 2010 AAPT Physics Bowl national competition. I find that I cannot seem to do well on important contests. I can fare reasonably well on tests and practice contests, but when it comes to the real thing, my brain cells just bluescreen from all the anxiety and end up failing in unique, interesting ways. Well, interesting to my readers, perhaps, but quite troublesome for myself. Take the AMC for example. I got enough questions right to get myself into the AIME exam, but I bubbled one of my answers in the wrong row. It’s interesting mistakes like these that make me headdesk in shame. I got 30/40 on the Physics Bowl contest.
That was Tuesday. Two days later, on Thursday, April 15, I set off towards San Francisco on the Orchestra Spring Tour. I can’t say I had fun… firstly, I forgot to bring black socks and black shoes. I had an interesting adventure with Hanchan near Fisherman’s Wharf searching for a pair of black shoes. I ended up buying a pair of black cloth made-in-China slippers. And I neglected black socks. Needless to say, I totally had a blast at the concert. Great America was one of the worst days I’ve had. I really hate amusement parks. It’s so pointless, and the amount of money they make is just staggering. I can’t believe people pay to… ugh. Well, the party at the end was great, though. Unlimited ice cream bars ftw!
Nothing interesting happened the next week. The following week was CSTs, and then the week after that was AP testing. I only had a test on the second Monday of AP tests, AP Physics B. It was easy, but I think I failed the free response pretty bad. Since, after all, I’ve never done an AP Physics free response practice ever. Hahahaha. Anyways, after that, Hanchan and I signed up to play a random quartet for a random rich person. Naturally, we failed brilliantly, but it was really fun anyways. I failed the APUSH test and only got into HUSH, and then we had the Pops Concert, along with the accompanying assemblies. The next week was so exceedingly busy, I have practically nothing written in my agenda for it. Oh, Friday says “Disneyland”. Right, we went to Disneyland. My “good” violin only had an orange Orchestra 1 tag on it, so it apparently got loaded into the Orchestra 2 section of the truck (how that makes sense, beats me.). So I had to use some loser’s crappy $20 violin in the seminar I paid like $80 for. Luckily I was able to prevent my own violin from being used by some loser during Orchestra 2’s performance. And the funniest thing is, after that, you have to PAY DISNEY… FULL ADMISSION PRICE to go play a day in the park. I mentioned above, when I was talking about the Spring Tour and Great America, how much I hate amusement parks. Ugh. I really hate them.
The weekend after Disneyland was really unique… it’s going to be memorable for years to come. You see, we have an English final project for Villalobos. My group — or rather, I myself, am rather ambitious. Our presentation was going to rock the socks off all our classmates… in theory. We met all of Saturday evening, I think, and met Sunday at Hank’s house (Hank, clean up your yard…). And they we met… ALL OF MEMORIAL DAY… from 10 in the morning, through lunch, through dinner, through midnight… and they left at 6am in the morning on Tuesday. Naturally, I skipped school on Tuesday to finish editing our horrible, crappy video, which wasn’t even my job. The thing is, nobody in my group except me can edit video, so…
Our presentation was on Wednesday. We first showed the video, which I typed up subtitles for the day before. Sound effects were added, but unfortunately Windows Movie Maker seems to be incapable of outputting playable video without considerable geekery, so we ended up throwing away many hours of work that we spent finding, adding, and timing sound effects. My subtitles were also quite substandard as well. (I did them using Aegisub, which, by the way, is probably the best subbing program on the internet. Almost all major subbing groups for anime use Aegisub, and it sped up my job immensely.)
After that, we did our main presentation, which was quite acceptable. I think the main premise of our presentation was quite good, although we were missing quite a few components (for example, the actual passage to be explicated during the passage explication…). As for the part of our presentation that made everything else seem trivial… our game. Let me explain. I was to write a flash game, from scratch, that allowed six players to control six cursors with six Wiimotes, connected via Bluetooth to the presentation computer. Each player had a racecar, and the goal was, of course, to be the first to complete three laps. However, players did not directly control the racecar in any way. They weren’t even in control of turning. All they had to do was answer multiple-choice questions on our book, Candide. Two questions appeared on the screen at a time, and any player could pick an answer from either question. If the player answered wrong, their car decelerated (or, accelerated backwards). It was possible for cars to end up driving backwards if too many wrong answers were chosen, which heavily discourages randomly picking answers. If a player chose the correct answer, a new question appeared, and the player’s car accelerated forwards. Also, there was a basic physics engine inside my game (written completely from scratch) that applied basic friction and forces to the cars, adding an interesting element of realism. All in all, it was quite a good idea, and it turned out to be quite a good game (except nobody in our group could do art and graphics competently), minus the graphics. Also, this is where I got the title of the post. It was Monday, and I was desperately looking for something cool to put on the “You Win!” screen, so I searched around the web for premade confetti scripts in Flash. Most of them were really crappy, and the ones that were okay costed money. I found some loser’s website with an OK script… however, the code was really really buggy. As in, it didn’t work at all. And when it did work, it was so slow, it crashed peoples’ computers. So I fixed it. I was tempted to reply to that loser’s blog with my fixed code. Hey, loser. I fixed your code.
Oh, but I didn’t. It would’ve been sweet, but I didn’t.
Anyways, guess what happened when I tried setting up my game during the presentation. All was well, until the game started… and then, it just didn’t work. Don’t ask me, the Wiimotes just suddenly all disconnected, and nothing happened when you pressed their buttons. Of course, this is all Microsoft’s fault, and when I’m retired, someday I’ll fix Microsoft’s bluetooth stack (which they still won’t have fixed in 60 years) and send it to Bill Gates. Hey, loser. I fixed your goddamn code.
Well, if you want an epilogue, we are going to re-present (read: steal five or ten minutes of another group’s presentation time) on Monday, tomorrow, and this time, hopefully nothing will go wrong.
So that was the major thing that happened recently. Also, Hank won Bay Math League. His score of 106 trumped my score of 100. I may have gotten a perfect paper on Round 4, but my previous failures dragged me down, I guess. I didn’t even rank, not surprisingly. Hank also founded Mu Alpha Theta on our campus. Speaking of math, I just got back yesterday from the national American Regions Math League, or ARML, national competition. Southern California A1 won 2nd place in the nation! Now, you’d expect me to be exhuberantly happy, but I must confess, I was on the SoCal B1 team. I get no medal, no certificate, no free calculator or $1000 prize or anything. I’d be depressed, but I don’t even have time to watch anime, so it’s not like I have time to be depressed. As I feel like giving a detailed summary of ARML, here goes:
On Friday, instead of going to school, I woke at 7am to board the SoCal ARML bus to Las Vegas. Most of my classmates probably will be listening to Justin’s explanation of why I am absent for the day: “He went to Las Vegas with his motorcycle gang to smuggle drugs and gamble. They’ll be chain-smoking and picking up girls, and Ben will be married to some prostitute when he gets back on Monday.” After five hours of bus ride torture, we disembarked into the 110-degree desert weather. We were staying in crappy dorms in UNLV — University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This is the site for the entire Western US ARML region. The other three ARML sites are at University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University, and University of something-else. Friday afternoon-to-evening was spent on the Team Round and Power Round. My fellow teammates were rather incompetent, but my incompetence in the Individual and Relay Rounds the next day trumped their incompetence by miles. You can tell I did bad. Not that doing my best would have won me anything, anyways, but it generally doesn’t feel very nice getting two or three questions right out of ten… on anything, really. The Tiebreaker was just insane, and the Super Relay was just messed-up. I left the competition feeling quite dejected and completely lacking in confidence.
SoCal A1 won 2nd place nationally. First place went to some random loser team on the east coast or something. Yes, they did win, but I can still call them losers if I want. SFBA (San Francisco+Bay Area) won 3rd nationally — ha! losers. You may have noticed that I am using the word “loser” very liberally in this post. The obvious conclusion is that I, myself, am a loser, so, to ease the pain and sorrow, I call other people losers. Moving on.
The team composition of the ARML contest is quite fascinating. There were probably at least 15 teams from California — SoCal itself sent four teams, San Diego sent like two, SFBA sent like six, NoCal sent maybe one or two, etc. And then… Nevada had like one team. Utah had like one team. Oregon had a team, and I think Washington did too. The whole “region” of North+South Dakota plus Montana plus Wisconsin plus like 5 other states in that area… that’s like eight states… they sent just ONE team. Interesting, isn’t it? Also, this year the Mariana Islands sent a team, which was really cool. Guam also sent a team. I like how their definition of what’s included in the “American” Regions Math League is so liberal… for instance, Canada.
Vietnam also sent a full team, but apparently “international” teams were only there to participate, and they could not win prizes. It would be funny if Vietnam was considered a part of the “Western United States”. I would crack a joke about the Vietnam war, but my historical knowledge of said war has mysteriously disappeared. I think I replaced that portion of my memory with random anime songs. A team from China also came. They had some trouble getting visas to come here, so only 8 out of the 15-person team made it. The other 7 people counted as having scores of 0. Eight people. Only a half-team. Guess what? If China could win prizes, they’d have won the competition. That just cracks me up. Americans must really be losers.
Here’s to the cut.
Now, for one paragraph about anime. I promise. Only one paragraph. And only to complain about how I haven’t watched ANY ANIME IN TWO WEEKS. Seriously…
Onwards with my train of thought, I’ve been oddly obsessed with playing the piano recently. I passed MTAC Level 10 piano, with honors (except for theory fail, when I switched 6/3 and 6/4 chords somehow…), and I can play (could play) some really difficult songs. It really intrigues me how I can’t play a simple song from some random dating sim. Maybe it’s just that I’m incompetent at sight-reading?
Anyways, I’ve always really loved music (I think). Sometimes I just get this burning desire to perform a really good piece of music in some epic manner. Usually, the aforementioned epic performance is quite beyond my means, but if it’s a piano song, an epic performance is totally doable. Like when one day, while randomly browsing the internet, I found a source of really good piano transcriptions. This person must be a genius. His transcriptions are better than the actual original songs. He is also a piano virtuoso, if you would like to browse his youtube videos.
So, you can guess what happened. I printed out a page, and started making an attempt at playing. I can’t play it. So I practice. After perhaps 30 minutes, frustration begins to set in. Welcome to Real Life, baby. You can’t do anything without spending time on it, or having spent a very long time acquiring the skill to do that one thing without spending time. I can’t word this well, I wonder if I’ll survive in AP English next year.
I’m tired now. Maybe I should have just ended this at the cut. Pretend you didn’t read this.