Archive for the ‘Physics’ category

This is another one of those “sorry for not posting in forever, let me summarize my fantastic life” posts.

January 27th, 2011

Here’s the compulsory apology. Sorry for not posting in forever; let me fill you in on what’s been up.

So my last real post was back on the midpoint of winter break. The week after that I told myself, “Okay, gotta write a post summarizing my winter break.” Never happened. Then a week later “Ugh I should post about my awesome week.” Never happened either. “Crap this week sucked I need to pour my grief out onto my blog.” Nope.

So here’s Ben on the Thursday of finals week, reporting live. Let’s jump back three weeks. Latter half of winter break. One of my favorite things to do was to sit on the dinner table next to the window and read my chemistry book. My only gripe was that there wasn’t wifi there (that place is the southwesternmost part of my house). So I took one of my family’s old routers and put it in my parents room (right above the dining room). Set up some weird Windows tunnel thing that didn’t work 90% of the time. Yeah, so basically it was a waste of time. But it would’ve been cool. Well, it kind of works. When the computer is on (cuz basically the computer connects to my room’s router and shares it with the router through the ethernet port). But only sometimes. Sometimes. Yeah.

Oh, another high point of my break was watching The Count of Monte Cristo. I think I’ve talked about that before, however, so I’ll leave it at that.

Next week, the week after finals, for some reason every day that week I woke before 6; usually at 4:30 or 5am. That’s amazing, considering how I usually woke up at 7:50am, ten minutes before the late bell for first period, with a 15-minute drive and dash through campus. I think it had something to do with my setting the alarm to play classical music on Pandora at 4:30am, but I haven’t been able to reproduce it. Seriously, after that last Friday, I have never been able to wake before 7am again, up to the moment. (In fact I’m writing this at 3am…)

Another event in that first week after break was my persuasive essay speech in Jeng. I think I thought I was good at speech-making (I mean. I did win the SC presidency in middle school. Right?). Well, I didn’t do too bad. I didn’t prepare much, but I tried to put my very best into delivering the speech (which is on a VERY RELEVANT TOPIC and I have yet to post the essay that goes with it). I hope Ms. Jeng was able to fully receive my feelings towards the topic.

Other stuff also happened that week, like me doing math contests and wasting time. The next week I tried (LOL “tried”) to focus on something very important to me. My focus didn’t completely narrow until the following week though. I think this was dead week. Anyways, I think I got more work done in class (hiding it from the teacher) than I ever did at home. Too many distractions. Do you know how annoying Skype is when you’re trying to work? No wonder our lives suck… j/k.

Then it’s finals week. That week was so unproductive, counterintuitively. However, I enjoyed going out to lunch on Thursday and Friday with my dad. On Thursday we went to the Korean BBQ restaurant next to the CVS on Baldwin and Naomi, and on Friday we went to a Thai restaurant that was extremely cheap and extremely good. Oh yeah, I was going to talk about my Monday of perfection.

So the Monday of finals week was like the perfectest day ever. (I like how spellcheck didn’t catch “perfectest”. Spellcheck also caught the world “spellcheck” as wrong, although I guess technically it’s “spell check”.) Anyways, everything that day went splendid. Just wanted to throw that out there. (This paragraph is so short because, due to my short term memory loss, I remember no particular details of why that Monday was so fantastic, except that it just was.)

Oh, on the Friday of that week I did something interesting, I applied for an internship in less than one hour. Or maybe one and a half, if you were timing. Seriously… an entire internship in one hour! Essays and all! My mom and I are amazing, and I felt so good about that, even though that day was the deadline for the application, and the post office wouldn’t accept the package at 4:30, so the postmark was after the deadline. But I still felt good about it. It felt good.

The last Saturday and Sunday were spent working on USAMTS problems (I wasn’t able to completely finish #6 due to one last annoying step in the proof that I could just never figure out) and studying physics for the F=ma competition to select the members of the US International Physics Olympiad Team. So yeah, I ditched my friends and studied. Like a loser. Haha, but no regrets.

Competition was on Monday. I know I got at least one question wrong (source: Alfred). It was quite a simple question too… I’m a fool. After the competition, I did absolutely no work at all. None. Nada. Nil. I messed around and watched anime (A LOT OF ANIME) and did cool stuff like that in celebration of my hard work (cough).

I had an ortho appointment yesterday (Tuesday). It hurt a lot, but hopefully my braces will be off within a half year. That’s, what, four years of braces? *frown*

Oh, and today’s Math Team meeting was interesting. Hank and I (and Calvin and a bunch of freshmen) did Research, and I explained a problem with Calvin. Ate three bags of chips (very satisfying). Then we spent a long time discussing the next meet at Arcadia.

And I went home and refrained from doing work, and Mr. Zhang came by and gifted me a ticket ($40 worth!) to the Chinese Parents Whatever Club and their annual Spring Festival Whatever Dinner. I just KNOW what’s going to happen there… swarms of Asian moms are going to mob me, and I will be assailed by countless questions on how they can torture their kids more effectively. I’ll just hide in the bathroom and play with my phone, I guess. Hopefully the food is good. Maybe I’ll flash a ROM or two in the stall, just for kicks. Hopefully AT&T has signal in the community center. Think they have WiFi?

[end at 3:41am.]

Hey, loser, I fixed your code.

June 6th, 2010

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.

» Read more: Hey, loser, I fixed your code.

Spring Break

April 10th, 2010

After months of ignoring my precious blog, I randomly felt it was about time I posted. About what? Everything.

The last few weeks before spring break were quite challenging — although judging by some of the juniors, I was still pretty well-off. Our PSA project on self-esteem turned out pretty well. My Mandarin grades are somehow still staying afloat even though I never spend any time on it. Math homework is so teeth-grinding. It’s completely pointless, and it’s such a waste of our precious time.

Funny thing is, on Monday I have like a test in every class. Every teacher’s thought process went something like this: “Oh, no other teacher is going to give a test on Monday, the day right after everybody gets back from spring break, so I’ll give a test on Monday. They’ll only have this one test, no big deal.” So that’s why I have like five tests on Monday.

As for my spring break, my family flew to Seattle, drove up to Vancouver, and had a generally marvelous time up in Canada. I was able to have a lot of fun while still keeping up with my physics. I saw snow falling from the sky for the first time in my life up in Grouse Mountain, overlooking Vancouver. Unfortunately, the snow and fog prevented me from actually seeing Vancouver from tens of thousands of feet above, but I don’t mind. I loved how wonderfully cold, Canadian, and awesome Vancouver was. The awesome British-ish (Canadian?) accents, the Canadian dollars and coins and the French… which reminds me, Vancouver was not as fantastic as Montreal. Montreal was French. Really French. And it was cold. Really coold. Oh, and Toronto was cool too. CN Tower isn’t the highest building in the world anymore, though (sadly).

After returning to my smoggy hometown, I went with Hank and Jason to the movies at the mall on Friday. We watched How to Train Your Dragon and Clash of the Titans. As expected from Dreamworks, Dragon was brilliant and fully enjoyable. Clash was… uninteresting. The overusage of unintelligible action scenes makes no sense to me. Greek mythology isn’t interesting to me anymore, also, for some reason. I would’ve rather watched some horrible anime than Titans.

Oh, right, and Thursday… Orchestra Spring Tour. Busy busy. I bought a mute in Vancouver, one of those shiny metal ones because… um, it was shiny. I can’t figure out how to open it… I can’t even fit it onto a sheet of paper, so how will it slide onto my bridge? Sneaky Canadians…

As for math contests, I seem to have gotten a silver in the USAMTS, which… was expected, I suppose. I’m not going to have enough time to try for gold next year, with junior year and all. Oh, and today is… was… ARML Local, which I’m staying home from because the math tutoring industry suddenly is disgusting me. Don’t ask, because I don’t know myself.

Most importantly, the 2010 Physics Bowl competition is going to be held on Tuesday. Today I have an extra-credit Physics Bowl session with my physics teacher. Monday I have a Physics Bowl review/cumulative test. Monday afterschool the Physics Team is probably planning some sinister examination to torture us all into getting high scores. And… Tuesday is the competition. That leaves me with only… gasp, two days!! Oh no, I don’t have time to prepare! Back to watching anime.

Haha, seriously that’s what my life is like. “Oh no, I forgot to do my homework! Oh well, it can wait until I finish this episode.” Which brings me to speak about Spring 2010 animes, and my pile of unfinished Winter 2010 animes, and all the stuff I’ve been watching lately, and how awesome Ueki no Housoku / The Law of Ueki is, and how EPICx3 the To Aru Majutsu no Index novels are (especially compared to the not-really-epic-enough anime)…….

Yeah, so that’s why I’m unwilling to go off and on about anime.

Yesterday I stayed up the whole night playing a stupid MMO video game. Sometimes my lack of sanity astounds me.

After all, wouldn’t that all-nighter have been much better spent watching anime?