Wednesday: March 23rd, 2011
Almost all my journal entries seem to start with the initial protruding sentence "things have been very busy lately", and apparently this is no exception here. It's nearly the end of the third quarter (April 1st), and I still have quite a few things to get done before then. I'm not exactly sure what I have and have not recorded thus far, but in summary for the past few weeks, I have finished/worked on the following things:
- Competed in the county science fair (with my English project...?) but managed to get an "Ribbon of Distinction" for the mentored category whatever that means. It was very nice, considering the topic didn't really fit at all, and I had pulled an all nighter to get my board done the previous night. Actually it was very bad. I taped (not even glued) the final third of the board during the first few minutes that I got to the fair. I met a sophomore next to me who did a project at Goddard, so we chatted most of the time about different projects going on there, atmosphere, specific people, but mostly politics regarding NASA and government funding. From my limited experience there, it was my impression that NASA is dying. Still, for me at least, it was an excellent place for me to learn a few things about programming, integration, and real presentation, and I gained lots of contacts even during that short time.
- I have been half-heartedly leading planning for the Student Executive Committee, leadership division charged with planning the APL Student Learning Conference. At first, I was a very good leader and on top of things. Now, the other girl Katie's been doing most of the work, and my name is now often listed last among the three. However it doesn't really bother me. I didn't even want the position in the first place. All I wanted was a chance to give a speech to a big crowd like that for practice, and thought that by being elected, I'd gain the necessary power to assert myself to that office. As it turns out, I probably won't get to speak, and instead have the monstrous job of coordinating a million people.
- I abhor organizing events. Like the SLC and even our GT Fair. I hate it. I'm not designed for it, and I don't like it. Alright, so that wording's a bit strong, but I'm pretty sure that organizing events like this is much lower on my natural list of priorities and skill set than research and checking research is. I much prefer actually working with the projects to finding a way to showcase them. I have been trying to work out the GT fair for Glenelg. I've sent out invitations, and received a few replies, some of which were rather flattering. A few of my contacts that I haven't talked to in probably six years still remembered certain parts of the research I had been doing at the time, and I was impressed. I have yet to hear from everyone though. What I hate most about organizing these things is that I have to order people around. I don't mind figuring out what we need to do, breaking it up, and assigning it. What I hate is the fact that I'm forced to nag people when I ask them to do things, and for whatever reason, it just doesn't get done. Good leaders don't nag, but I just don't know any other way to get things done except doing them myself. Usually that's just what I end up doing, but that's not a practical strategy either. I'm still not very good at motivating people yet, but hopefully I'll get better. Things worked surprisingly well at the beginning of the year, but I think people's ambition, including mine, has slowly eroded over the course of the year.
- I attended the FIRST regional robotics competition in Baltimore, though my contributions were so slight, I should have been embarrassed. Still it was interesting, and I'm finishing up a newspaper article on them for an internet newspaper. I got footage of all of that day's matches with our team, and plenty of pictures to use. I hope to update my 5-minute movie as well. I wish we'd gotten that submitted properly. That was my fault. Stephen came to see the end of the competition, and took me to his school from Baltimore; actually we took the bus. Sidenote: I need to get used to public transportation for next year. He's been showing me little bits of Python and Java, but not enough where I'd be any good whatsoever at doing more than print functions.
- Most of my energy recently has been devoted to my other classes, not that I can say it's a considerable amount of energy to start. I feel like I have approximately one eighth the amount of ambition I had in freshman year. Toward the end of junior year, my ambition again skyrocketed back up to previous levels, however it was not academic, and I didn't achieve anything truly tangible.
In short, I am intellectually exhausted. I have been all year, but even more so now. I really hope things get back together in college, and before then too, because I plan to take a few preparation courses to make sure first and second semester material at least look familiar before I get in over my head. I will be an electrical engineer from Johns Hopkins University. Both my parents went to Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania for undergrad/grad schools (opposite of each other). I think engineering will be a good background for whatever I do, but I do not plan to be just an engineer. Just engineers are underpaid in general for what they know how to do. I'm considering law, medicine, and business as possible long term options, and have been investigating requirements for each of these paths. Everything is so much money, and I'm surprised and very grateful my dad managed to put so much away for it all - all of college for both me and my brother at places like Hopkins without scholarships or loans! But for graduate school, I need to earn money, because it will use up literally all his savings. I need to get scholarships. I need to figure out some way to get all this money back.
So here I am, pensive, but rather unproductive in the grand scheme of things. I hope I start thinking again soon.
February 22, 2011
Things have been very busy lately. My attentions have been pulled apart by several projects all demanding immediate effort, especially in the last two weeks. I was elected one of three chairs in charge of organizing the SLC at APL this year. I didn't want the job; I only wanted a speaking role. As it turns out, I am now thrust with the responsibility and time committment of managing this whole thing without the chance to speak - not what I wanted. However it's interesting, and I can add it to my resume I suppose. Leadership experience never hurts. Each meeting is 2 hours long, Wednesdays, usually at Mt. Hebron from 6:30 - 7:30. Last meeting I was on my feet talking for the entire two hours. The first hour, perhaps more, Alyssa and I were explaining Virtual Abstracts. They were quite receptive, but Dr. Kiehl pushed the possibility that they be given their own session at APL rather than as supplement presentations. This is good, except that it may jeopardize one of our other presentation slots. We have very few slots, so this is obviously bad. Mr. Ashcraft has a pretty good idea of who will be presenting from Glenelg. Personally I have a 50/50 chance of being either as a full length or trifold board presenter, I'm not sure which or what that probability refers to exactly. In the case of a 25 minute presentation, I will be talking about NASA and the future of robotics. If I'm required to do the board presentation, I will do the Story Template most likely, because I already have the board made (almost). However, I also made a poster for NASA, but not a great one, so we'll see.
I went to a writing conference last weekend. I have science fair this weekend. I have a piano concert right before, but I will be judging the Middle School projects for STEM on Friday; they will be providing dinner. After that is over at 8, I will be proceeding 2 hours late to "intellectual clubbing". I'm not quite sure what that means, but it's informal. I think it's probably just a dance party with a heavy emphasis on conversation, but the proclaimed highlight of the evening will be watching a certain provoking movie and throwing thought experiments around amongst about 50 people. (Very exciting). Actually the people are pretty interesting, so it's ok. Anyway that goes until late that night, and I don't intend on staying after midnight.
The next day, I have my own science project to present starting around 9:30 to noon. I'm in the mentored section, because I don't fit anywhere else. To be honest I'm almost ashamed to show up, because this story idea is such a soft science it doesn't really belong. But, I was curious to see how it would do, and senior year, I consider competing in this case to be my weird idea of fun. I wish I had the time to actually pay attention, polish it off, and make it good. Sadly, I'm still trying to put my board together four days before I have to have it. IT's gold and black this year. I got fancy with the painting, and did some black paper snow flakes for the headboard to make it interesting. Of course that stage in project development was totally unnecessary, and I hope it doesn't overemphasize the artistic aspect, but it's done. I don't expect or intend to do anything with the project except practice presenting and assess how well a humanities project can survive in techie land (aka science fairs).
My really good friend who went to the National Fair in Alaska two years ago and won the Championship this year, is not competing this year. He was disappointed with me for not attempting the ordeal last year, and says his absence is only in rebuttal to mine. Flattering but false of course, as his reasons for failing to do anything this year are the same as mine were last year, but yet I will be left without acquaintances in my own grade this year. Though he's not in Howard, so I wouldn't have seen him anyway. I also had the privelidge of becoming friends with the Shimatzu winner two years ago as well (it was a good year) who was previously my brother's friend and team leader, but I doubt he'll be there either. I'll be leaving directly at noon for lunch with friends and will probably spend the rest of the day out as I don't feel it necessary to go to the public session, and my brother will probably go to collect his materials and I will ask him to bring mine too.
I've started writing for the Village Connector newspaper, and hope to submit my first article at some point this week. I wrote a piece for FIRST Team 888 Robotics at Mr. Sheridan's recommendation. I finished a five minute movie intended for submission to the Chairman's Award. I am excessively upset that my error in the deadline prevented it's incorrect submission, and am still trying to find ways to improve the situation. The main purpose in trying for Chairman's was to get funding from NASA as I understand it? I'm going to focus on pushing that connection in a more direct manner. The Chairman's Award submission last year, while ok, was quickly but not carefully done. Even this year, compared to the winning videos from previous years, our team doesn't just doesn't have the raw resouces or outreach programs available to pull off such a polished presentation. I tried. I haven't done much at all in learning about the robot itself unfortunately. I know the basic components, general concepts, etc., but I'm not familiar with the quirks of the equipment, troubleshooting if things go wrong, or have an understanding deep enough to be able to adapt and solve problems. I'm basically only the team's humble publicist. I wish I could have learned more, but I just haven't had time or energy to invest more effort in learning more about that project.
Speaking of which, I'm struggling to remember what I did with Astrobot at NASA, but thankfully my private notes are meticulously thorough. It's very rewarding to read one's own writing when it proves helpful.
I worked on my Titanomachy novel with Amy Deardon this weekend. It was the second time she'd heard me talk about it.
I'm falling drastically far behind in my mentorship leadership duties. I've had to delegate out things I thought for sure I'd be able to get done myself. Instead, it's required a lot of effort to explain each task to the respective leadership person, so they can get to it. I'm beginning to catch the first effects of senioritis, though in all honesty it started at the beginning of this year. Every mentorship period, it feels like I have so much time, but then find that it's never anywhere near enough.
I had to ask for a paper extension from MR. Ashcraft for no particular reason other than that I couldn't get it done in time. I felt bad about that, considering I asked the same day it was due. I was sure I'd have it done. I was so frustrated with leadership last year for skipping on the paper like I just did, because I thought leadership of all people should meet every single deadline with perfect accuracy, because leadership is suppost to serve as the example after all. I haven't exactly been the best example this year, but since my college is set, I can't be mad at myself too much.
This year, I've been spreading myself thinner than any other year, because it's my last chance to try all those things I never had a chance to do. Consequently my quality's been slacking in pretty much every area. I need to focus on basic school. That should be my priority, but instead, I'm only interested in micromanaging as many organizations as possible, starting a million projects at a time, reading and writing things for which I will not get any credit in terms of grades. I have three scholarship essays picked out this weekend that I should do soon. I started and finished reading Pride and Prejudice this weekend, and loved it of course. I read more than half the book today actually. I started at 25%, and finished it. The midpoint, Mr. Darcy's letter to Elizabeth, reminded me to look for structure. I like the writing style immensely, and the story world of course. People never lived that way in real life though. I have ever received two eerily similar violent letters as were described in the midpoint, so that made the impact of the midpoint even harsher. I didn't like reading that part at all, to the point I almost felt sick. The book was just as amazing as I remember though. I want to read Count of Monte Cristo next, but don't know when I'll have the time. Once I start a book, I always become so engrossed in it that I can't stop reading until the end. Consequently, when I start, I will read all day on weekends, or for 4 hours in bed on weekdays (thus meaning I'm probably falling asleep at around 2 or 3, and waking up at 6). It's not the most prudent thing.
February 1, 2011
I will be competing in STEM fair on February 26th under Mentored Category!!!! And I'm excited. It's going to kill me to get it all together in time, but I was thinking I needed to pull it together in 3 days for this Thursday, but I don't fortunately. It's still going to be a ton of work just to get completely ready for the end of this month, but I think I can do it.