Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happiness Parents

Recently, we had our very last show choir concert of the 2009-1010 show choirs. It went really well considering we have only had one practice in the last month or two. While it was sad considering how many seniors are graduation and will not be apart of the choir program next year, it was also a really good concert. The parents put on a display of their own (as they do every year) mocking Happiness Inc.'s show this year. The above video is the from the concert, and is of the parents performance.

"The Hot Zone"

Most of the time, I really dread reading non-fiction books. I think it’s the stereotypical view that non-fiction are boring, that causes me to avoid realistic literature. But this book “The Hot Zone” was a fascinating story about several deadly viruses.
The “Hot Zone” discusses several different types of viruses, where major break outs have occurred, and the personal stories of several individuals who have encountered the viruses. One of the viruses that has been discussed is the Marburg Virus, and the author, Richard Preston, gives a vivid narration of a man named Charles Monet, who was infected and killed by this virus. Another Virus discussed in this book is the Ebola virus. Richard Preston discusses a little about the history of the virus, and also the story of a woman working with Ebola infected monkeys that almost contracted the disease herself.
The Marburg virus, and the two types of known Ebola viruses are in the same family and are all known as filoviruses. The two Ebola viruses are called Ebola Zaire, and Ebola Sudan. Of these three related viruses, Ebola Zaire is the worst, and Marburg is the best to contract. By no means however is Marburg a good virus to contract. When Charles Monet contracted the virus, his symptoms were painful headaches, red eyes, vomiting blood mixed with a black substance, and massive bleeding which finally resulted in his death.
One connection between the Marburg, Ebola Zaire, and Ebola Sudan virus is that they have largely affected both the physical, and mental well-being of many people who live in Africa. What then is the cause of each of these viruses, where can it most commonly be found, and what is it that should be avoided so as to not contract any of these viruses? Scientists still do not know from what, or where it was that Charles contracted the horrible Marburg virus that ended his life.

This information has a huge impact not only on our nation, or on Africa, but on the whole world. This is because these viruses don’t care what race or what ethnic group a person is from, all that matters to these viruses is finding a host. The information in this book is, in a sense, a warning of what a bad impact these viruses could have on everyone. In fact, there was one break out of the Ebola virus in Bumba that never spread much further than its origins. The reason for this is unknown, but breakouts like these have the potential to spread across the globe, infecting anyone, and everyone in its path.
We should care very much about this information because if a breakout of one of these viruses were to occur again, there could be countless casualties. We should care about finding a cure or prevention to these viruses, and gaining the knowledge of where they can be found.
I think that the information presented in “The Hot Zone” has both pros and cons. The pros are that we have been warned against a terrible virus, and have some time to do more research about it in preparation for a potential breakout. The cons of this information are the sheer terror it presents, and hopelessness of the truth that lies behind it. It makes a person realize just how fragile the people in our world are, how at any moment, something smaller than the period at the end of this sentence could easily destroy us, and at the moment, there is nothing we can do to stop it.
I think that even though this information isn’t pleasant, it is necessary to help the overall good of our world.
I like this book so far, I can relate all of the information about viruses back to my knowledge in biology. I like reading scientific literature like this because it is interesting, and it makes me feel smart because I am able to draw parallels between what I read and what I know.

*Picture from:

College Tennis

Yesterday, after playing the defending state champion, I received an email from the coach of Coe College (a local area college) about considering attending Coe College after high school. The coach told me that he had come to my match that day and saw how I played, and he was impressed (even though I lost by such a convincing margin). I have considered attending Coe College before, but about the only thing that makes me not want to enroll there for college is the fact that it is so close to home.
Coe College is about eight minutes away from where I live right now, and as much as I want to consider going there, I’m just not sure if I would be happy going to school somewhere so close to home. When I picture myself at college, I picture myself starting out in a city that I am unfamiliar with, not in a place that I have spent my whole life.
I realize that there are a lot of perks of attending a local college, but right now, I really want to go to another, more distant city from where I am now.
All this considered, I have not ruled out the possibility of attending Coe College someday. While I have done very little research on any college, Coe seems to really be a great college, and the only thing deterring me from considering enrollment there is it’s location.

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Yesterday was the first tennis meet we played in that will help determine which teams qualify to play in the state tournament. We played Marshalltown and won the meet five one (Marshalltown is where the defending state champion attends school), and so we will be advancing to play one more school next Saturday, and if we win that meet, another school later that same day.
At the Marshalltown meet yesterday, I was most fortunate in that I was the one that got to play the defending state singles champion. It was an interesting experience.
While the score of our match wasn’t even relatively close (I lost zero and one), several games went to deuce, and I wouldn’t say that she completely blew me out of the water. I was able to return most of her serves (no small feat!) and we had several rallies that lasted for a respectable amount of time. Playing her was a neat experience for me because it helped me set goals for myself that I hope to achieve in the near future.

*Picture from:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ocean Reflux

I read an article about Ocean Reflux from "Discover" magazine, I wrote a response to it. Part of the article can be read online at

This article was an informative piece that talked about the effects that green house gases, mainly CO2 were having on the ocean. Excess C02 is made as a waste product of several different things. Once CO2 is produced, the ocean absorbs the gas, and it lowers the Ph level of the ocean. This problem began with the start of the Industrial Revolution, and since the beginning of that time frame, the Ph of the ocean has dropped about 30%. Scientists were curious about the effect a more acidic environment would have on the marine life. Many experiments have been conducted, and most, if not all, have suggested that a more acidic environment is harmful to the underwater sea life. A more acidic environment causes many animals with shells to dissolve. Of course, with this known fact, it is now obvious that the ocean’s eco system will be greatly affected if the ocean’s water becomes too acidic. This would be a very bad thing because of the food chain. Certain animals that really on shelled-creatures as a source of food would die, and larger animals that rely on those animals would die, and so on and so forth. Another effect the rising acidity of the ocean will have, is on coral reefs. The Coral reefs do not thrive in very acidic environments, and if the Ph level is low, then reefs will start dying, and that wouldn’t be good because there are many animals that depend on the reefs for a habitat.
This information has an impact on the world, because if acid levels become too high in the oceans, than the “circle of life” will be thrown off balance, and some organisms would probably drastically decrease in population, or even become extinct. This article presents both good, and bad news. Its bad news because obviously we do not like to see the acid levels of oceans rise, but this information is also good news, because it helps others become more aware of things that need to be done to protect the environment. I think that this information is important because it is a warning of something devastating that could happen if more care isn’t taken with disposing of CO2.
I think don’t think that this article would benefit a lot of people. I think that it would benefit people who have direct authority of CO2 waste and how it is disposed of. I probably would recommend this article to some people, but not others, because it would probably get some people really stressed out, but it could help other people be more conservative in how much CO2 they produce.

Short People

We recently had our end of the year choir concert, where the top two choirs in the school performed sets of music, and all of the seniors were recognized. I am in both of the choirs that performed this past week, and while I just barely made it to the concert on time (I had an away tennis meet the same day which ended fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the concert), both performances went pretty well.
Chamber choir is the top choir at my high school, there are just under thirty students in this choir, and the music we do in that class is often much harder than the music we do in the next highest choir (that choir has more than one hundred students).
Because of the increasingly large numbers of students allowed into the top two choirs this year, and because so many people tried out to be in a choir or in a show choir for next year, our directors have decided to make several changes to the choir program for next year.
The biggest changes being made for next year is the amount of people let into Chamber choir and into Concert choir (choir second to Chamber choir in terms of skill, and in terms of difficulty to make the group). There was a big problem faced by Concert Choir this year due to the imbalance of the group. There were probably at least twice as many sopranos than any other voice part in the choir, and there were about half as many guys than girls (altos and sopranos). In an effort to fix the blend and balance of the choir, our director is seriously thinking of cutting the number of each voice part down to twenty per section. This would mean a considerate cut in the number of students in the group this year, and a significant increase in the number of students in the intermediate choir. I feel confident that I would make Concert Choir again for next year, but I feel less certain about whether I’d make Chamber Choir again.
Our director recognizes Chamber Choir as the most select choir at our school. He feels though, that over the past few years, the choir has become less and less select. There are just under thirty students in Chamber Choir, and our director wants to redo the structure of Chamber Choir for next year so that there will only be sixteen people in the group. This means that several of the students who are members of Chamber Choir this year, will not be members next year. The soprano section will be especially competitive to be a part of ( I am a soprano).
In Chamber choir, there are currently eleven sopranos, but only four of them are seniors, which means there are seven current Chamber Choir sopranos auditioning for four openings. This concept becomes even more nerve-racking when you take into account that there are three current freshman sopranos that are apparently amazing. I feel confident about making concert choir, but after going over the numbers, I feel less confident in whether or not I will make Chamber Choir next year.

This video is of a small group singing one of the songs Chamber Choir performed at our last concert.


Tennis Team Seniors

As the school year and tennis season come to a close (we only have one regular season meet left before the state qualifying rounds begin) I have started thinking about, and in some ways dreading my final year on the tennis team.
The top six-eight players from each school are normally the players that make up the varsity lineup. This year I have been playing number one singles and doubles for my team, and the number two singles position has been played by a freshman. The rest of our varsity line-up is made entirely of seniors (with the exception of one junior, but she is graduating early…). With our last meet of the season being this Tuesday, I can’t help but feel disappointed that the girls I have been playing tennis with for the past two-three years will be graduating this year, and won’t be on the team with me next year.
Our team is currently ranked as the number three 2A team in the state (or at least I’m pretty sure we are…), and it’s the realization that we are losing four of our top six players that makes me think this is my last opportunity to make it to team state (we placed third last year, were in the top eight my freshman year-but really should have placed second at state).
It’s the realization that over half of the varsity team is graduating this year that will serve as motivation for me to work harder to make it to individual state. Because I know that this could very well be my last year competing at team state, and next year will be my last year to compete at individual state, I feel determined to work really hard over the next year in order to have an extremely successful year individually next year.

*Picture from:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

College Tennis

This week my high school tennis coach told me that a college had called him, and they were interested in recruiting me for their tennis team. I had never heard, or had hear very little about, the college that had called him, but it was still a neat feeling to know that a college coach is interested in having me on his team.
After talking to my coach (not my high school coach) about the situation, I have decided not to go to this particular college. My coach told me that the school wasn’t very good, and implied that the tennis program wouldn’t be a good fit for me either. He did tell me though, that he had talked to another coach of a different college about me, and while I haven’t decided whether or not I want to go to that particular college (it’s a local college) it was neat to hear that I was the subject of a portion of his conversation.
I know that I have wavered in my decision about whether or not I am going to play tennis in college, but after seeing how well this tennis season has been going, as of now, I plan on playing college tennis.

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Senior Year

With next year being my senior year of high school, I’ve been thinking more and more lately about which classes I should take.
We signed up for classes this January, and my schedule includes: AP Literature, AP Spanish, AP Calculus, government/economics, Concert choir, AP Chemistry, Show choir, and Chamber choir (assuming I’m accepted into this group). As I look at this rigorous list of classes for next year, I can’t help but already feel overwhelmed with what lays ahead. I really don’t want to have a super busy year next year (homework-wise) because:
a.) It’s my senior year
b.) I really want to play a ton of tennis and win a state title next year
c.) I don’t like homework

I am an over-achiever. I don’t like settling for regular classes when there is an AP or advanced version I can take. But now I am seriously considering dropping a couple of my scheduled classes completely or at least taking a less rigorous course equivalent. But the question I am faced with making is which classes I should change.
I am very much tempted to take a non-AP language arts class, I feel like a big draw back to doing that is missing out on AP Literature, which is the class that graduates say helped them the most once they entered college. As much as I dislike reading and writing, it would be really nice to miss out on a couple of language arts classes in college if I were to get AP credits from taking the class in high school.
I really don’t like Spanish class, at all. The only reason I am currently taking Spanish is because I don’t want to have to take a foreign language in college (because I am told that many colleges require at least two years of a foreign language). I’m not bad at Spanish, I’ve always done pretty well in Spanish class, but it’s never really been something that I enjoy. One of my only other reasons for wanting to take AP Spanish next year is the teacher. The AP Spanish teacher is also the Spanish II teacher (I had him as a teacher last year) and he is definitely in my top three favorite teachers of all time. I really don’t like Spanish, but I really like the instructor, plus we have had conversations in which he has told me that he expects to see me in one of his AP classes my senior year.
Ever since the eighth grade I have been a part of the advanced math program, taking the advanced versions of math classes intended for the grade ahead of me. Being apart of this program for the past several years, I feel my only choice is between AP Calculus and AP Statistics. I am starting to think now that I might save myself the stress and take regular calculus instead.
Government/economics is non-negotiable; it’s a required class that I have to take before graduating.
Concert choir is also required for those that participate in show choir, so that class is also non-negotiable.
AP Chemistry is the class that I am most likely to drop completely from my schedule. After the end of this year I will have already taken four science classes (the requirement is three), I’ve already taken regular chemistry (didn’t like that at all…) and none of the other science classes are of much interest to me.
I have decided to audition for Chamber choir (I didn’t last year, but was later able to join because a member of the soprano section moved to Florida), and if I make that, then that class will meet every other day with the show choir class.
After thinking about all the choices I have in changing my schedule, I do feel more certain that I will end up changing my schedule for a less rigorous list of courses. I am still uncertain as to which classes I plan on dropping, but I feel more sure of the fact that I want to change my schedule.

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Dual Meet

Yesterday was a really big match-up for tennis. We had another dual meet against both of the Iowa-City tennis teams, and it proved to be a very trying match.
After the six singles matches were over the score was three-three, so the outcome of the meet would come down to doubles. I personally lost my singles match, but was still pretty pleased with how I had played. The girl I was playing had placed third at state the previous year, and I forced our match into a tie-breaker, so the score was really close.
We ended up winning two out of the six doubles matches that day which secured an overall victory with a score of five-four. As of that day we were ranked third in the state, and that first team we played were also ranked in the top ten teams in the state.
The second team we played later that day was ranked number two in the state, so I speculated that the meet would have a very tight final score.
Like the morning match, the score after singles was three-three, so as with the morning match, the afternoon match came down to the results of the double’s matches. We ended up losing two of the three doubles matches, which made the final score of the meet four-five, our first loss of the season.
What was some-what exciting about this match-up was that even though we did lose, the probably could have won. In my doubles match we were winning four or five-one, but somehow lost our momentum and ended up losing our lead and the match seven-ten.
I’m not saying that we were the better doubles team and should have won the match, but I do think that the results of the match could have ended up differently. So if we end up playing each other again in the state-tournament, hopefully, things will turn out a little bit differently.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audtition Week

This week has been a little more exciting than normal because it is show choir try-out week! There are two parts to a person’s show choir audition. The most important portion of the audition is vocal. Everyone auditioning for one of the three show choir groups at my high school must select a song to sing in their audition. The song doesn’t have to be long, chances are that the directors wont let you sing more than a fourth of it anyways, but even though it’s the shortest portion of the audition, it’s also the most important. My vocal audition is tonight and I have selected “Voi Che Sapete” (I may have butchered the spelling of that…) as my try out piece.
The second and third most important factors in determining who will make one of the groups is based upon teacher recommendations and grades.
The fourth factor in determining if someone is cast in a group or not is the dance audition. In this audition, the choreographer of our varsity show choir comes in and teaches a short, but difficult, dance. Everyone is divided into groups of five or six, and then the groups come in one by one and perform the dance twice for the choreographer, and the three directors of each of the show choirs. Each person is evaluated and then the next group comes in, thus continuing the cycle.
Even though it causes a lot of stress, I like audition week. I don’t like singing in front of people, but my audition is the time when I am able to show the choir directors how I really sound. And though the dance audition is always hard, it’s also a lot of fun, especially because the choreographer usually makes the dance to a popular song. The only bad thing about the audition process is waiting for the group lists to be posted. We tried out the week of April 26, but the lists won’t be posted until May 22.

This year’s dance audition song :)

Rain Check

Over the weekend we were scheduled to play in a dual meet against two of the local high schools (dual meet just means playing two schools in one day). Due to weather we had to postpone the start of our first meet but ended up winning the meet seven-two. Our second meet started later than normal because of the postponements earlier in the day, and after starting the meet we eventually had to stop and reschedule the rest of the match for a later day because it started raining again.
When we left off with our second match, the meet score was one-one (we had both lost one and won one singles match). I was up in my match nine-zero, our number three player was losing her match three-seven, our number four player was down five-six, and our number five player was winning seven-four or five. Needless to say, the team we are playing is about the same skill level as us. We are finishing the meet tonight (unless it rains… again) and though I hope we win this meet, at this point, it really could go either way.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Pan Flute

Here is a brief explanation of how my pan flute works (or at least how i think it works). I'm still a little confused on the whole wavelength thing, but I feel like i did a pretty decent job of faking it in this explanation.
I constructed my musical instrument (a modified version of the Pan Flute) by cutting various lengths of PVC piping, duct taping them together and blocking off the bottom end of each piece of piping with a ball of clay.
I started out cutting five different lengths of .5” in diameter of PVC piping. The approximate lengths I used for each piece of piping respectively were 9.5”, 8.5”, 7.5”, 7”, and 6.5”. I then sanded the ends of each pipe, laid the pipes out so that the tops of each pipe is aligned with each other while the bottoms end staggered, and then taped the pipes together.
After constructing my pan flute thus far, I struggled with finding a material to block off the bottom end of each pipe. I was able to produce a pitch with each tube when I placed the palm of my hand on the end of each tube separately, but could not find a material that was capable of reversing the travel of the sound waves. I finally found the solution to this problem while looking online.
The answer was clay. All I had to do to block of the end of each pipe, thus enabling myself to create a pitch, was to place a wad of clay at the bottom opening of each tube. This solved my problem, and I was able to create five different pitches from the five pipes without placing my hand over the opening of each one.
The physics behind this instrument can be identified through the principles displayed by wavelengths traveling through a pipe with one closed end and one open end (the end with the clay being the closed end). Because one of the ends of the pipe is open and one is closed, the open end is an anti node and the closed end is a node. Because one end is a node, and the other end of the pipe is an antinode, only odd numbered harmonics are capable of being produced within the pan flute. As air is blown across the top of an individual pipe, the air particles travel down the column as a wavelength and as they meet the clay at the end of the pipe, are reflected back out the pipe, thus creating a sound.
The differences heard in the different pitches of each pipe can be understood through the definition of frequency. Frequency is defined as “the number of cycles or vibrations per unit of time; also the number of waves produced per unit of time” (Serway, Raymond A. and Jerry S. Faughn 954). As the frequency is increased the pitch becomes higher. In my pan flute, the shorter pipes have higher pitches than the longer pipes. Keeping in mind the definition of “frequency” we know that this is because a cycle of vibrations will complete itself faster in a shorter pipe than in a longer pipe. Thus, shorter pipes create higher pitched sound.

Directions on making a pan flute taken from: Linda Barnhart, and

Rain, Rain Go Away...

Yesterday our tennis team had another dual meet (play one team in the morning and another team in the afternoon). We had to postpone the start of our first meet due to the rain, but ended up winning the meet seven to two.
After we played the first meet, most of the team stopped at Panera for lunch. I ordered a soup and sandwich, but later regretted it. The table we sat at was a smaller-sized table and my plate wasn’t fully situated on the table, so that part of my plate was hanging over the edge of the table. I accidentally pushed down on the part of the plate hanging over the edge of the table and spilled soup all over my tennis dress! It was a huge mess! Fortunately the meet was in town and one of my teammates was able to bring the black tennis skirt we used as a uniform last year, and I just used that and this year’s t-shirt for our second meet.
Prior to the start of my match, I was very nervous. I always get more nervous than usual before playing this particular school, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect walking out onto the court. I had played this particular girl before and both of us had wins over the other. My coach and I had talked strategy over this particular player a couple nights prior to the meet, and so I wasn’t going into the meet totally unprepared. All the singles players started their matches and mine was going really well! Before we had to postpone the rest of the match until Monday, I was winning the match 9-0 (we play a ten game pro set). We are going to finish the meet tomorrow, and I pray that God will give me the focus I need to win the match!

*Picture from:

Pan Flute

¬¬ I blogged awhile ago about a physics project where I was assigned to make a musical instrument that is capable of playing five different notes in a scale. We are also required to identify what makes our instrument capable of creating sound, and are also supposed to play a song in front of the class. Well, the project was assigned about three weeks ago, it’s due tomorrow, I about half way done with it.
I have the actual instrument made (I found instructions online for making a PVC pan flute) but have yet to pick out a “recital” piece for the class, or figure out all the physics properties involved that causes my instrument to create sound! This is such a frustrating project for me! It was assigned by our student teacher (I’m pretty sure our regular teacher doesn’t assign this project) and so I get really annoyed knowing that if we didn’t have a student teacher I wouldn’t be stuck doing this stupid project! Spring, with tennis season, is probably the most stressful season of the year, and having to do this project is has just made it more stressful.
Following directions I found online, I made my pan flute by cutting a ½” in diameter piece of PVC piping into various lengths (longer lengths create lower notes, and shorter lengths create higher pitched notes). Then I laid the pipes together, aligning the tops of each pipe with each other, and then duct taped them together. Then I realized that the pipes would only create sound if I blocked off the end of the tube with my hand. This made sense, since the air I blew into the top of the tube needed something to bounce off of (my hand).
The problem was, I couldn’t very well keep one end of each pipe covered with my hand and play it at the same time! It took a little while to find something that would block off the end of the tube and still produce noise when I blew into the top end of the pipe. I tried plastic wrap, a cotton ball, and even melting wax from a candle to cover up the end, but nothing worked. I eventually found the answer online: clay. So I blocked off the end of each pipe with a clump of clay, which allows me to blow air into the top which creates a pitch.
Now all I have to do is figure out why my instrument is capable of producing pitch, and figure out what song to perform for our physics class concert: “Physics Rocks!”

Here is a video on a man playing a Pan Flute made out of Carrots!

Video taken from the following link:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Unhappy Hippo

I wrote this poem, and though it may seem a bit random, I felt the need to share it with the world.

The Unhappy Hippo

Once there was a hippo,
he loved to dance and play,
but in his heart, he was sad,
because he was all gray.

You see he desired uniqueness,
to be different from the rest,
so because he looked like all the others
he longed for some zest.

So he dyed his skin bright yellow,
and he loved it to no end,
but then the others followed suit,
because the others liked this trend.

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I think that for his job, my dad has to have a certain number of hours of conferences in order to maintain his medical license. So every now and then, my dad travels to other states to complete the required amount of conference hours. Usually my dad travels to warmer places like Florida or Texas, so that he can go golfing when he doesn’t have to go to a meeting. But I remember from when I was younger that my dad would go to colder places, like Colorado, so that he could go skiing. On at least one of these occasions, my dad took my older sister, Bethany with him, and she would sit and color during the meetings and then go skiing with my dad afterwards (she was about ten at the time).

This happened such a long time ago, that I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember that when she left for Colorado, she left me to baby sit her stuffed animal, Ursula. I was probably, four, five, or six at the time, and I was pretty excited to be entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of this little green teddy bear wearing a sunflower dress. I’m not certain, but I think that when my job as Ursula’s care taker had just started, I stayed with Ursula, and would take her with me everywhere I went. But as the excitement of this new job started to wear off, I think I became less enthusiastic about watching Ursula. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked “baby sitting” her, but I think I became less devoted to taking her with me everywhere I went. That’s probably why I would occasionally misplace her.

I vaguely remember that one time, I forgot the last place I had put Ursula, and I became panicked because I had lost her. Eventually though, I did find her, but I think that the prospect of losing probably my sister’s favorite stuffed animal scared me into being more responsible (at least for a while) with Ursula.

I think that the reason I was so excited about having this “baby sitting” job, was because since I was so young, I never really got the chance to be the “adult” and take care of someone else. So having the opportunity to actually be the one to take care of someone (or in this case, something) else made me feel important and more grown up, and I think that that was probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed the job of baby sitting Ursula, the green teddy bear.

I can see similar qualities in regards towards my older brother Ben, and our new puppy Cooper. Ben is twenty-three years old, but has lived with Down’s Syndrome ever since he was born. We have had Cooper for almost two weeks now, and like me and my experience with baby sitting Ursula, I can see Ben enjoying taking care of our new little puppy. I think he likes to feel like he’s in charge of as many situations as possible, because he’s so used to being looked after, I imagine that its really refreshing for him to be the one responsible for someone else.

*picture from:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yesterday was our second tennis tournament of the year, and overall I am very happy with the results. The Tournament is comprised of four high schools, John, F. Kennedy, Decorah, Ottumwa, and Columbus high school. This is another tournament that we go to every year, and is usually a pretty competitive day of tennis.
With the three singles matches, and the three doubles matches I played yesterday, I played a total of seventy-two games of tennis, and needless to say, my body can sure feel the after effects of such a strenuous day today.
The way school-sponsored tournaments work is all the number one seeds from one school play all the other one seeds from every other school in attendance, same with the two seed, the three seed, and so on. I was playing as the number one player from Kennedy, and had, prior to that day, played each number one seed from all the other schools at the tournament.
I was nervous for this tournament, because though I had played all three of the other girls before, I had only beaten one of them. I had played the girls from Decorah and Ottumwa at the tournament my school had hosted before, and the girl from Columbus the previous year at the same tournament.
My first round match was against the girl from Ottumwa. She was one out of the three that I had already beaten that same year, and the final score of that match was eleven to one (we played a total of twelve games). My second match was against the Columbus girl, and was the match I had been worried the most about.
I was really anxious walking out onto the court. I had lost to this same girl last year, I think the score was somewhere around four seven, and I really didn’t know what to expect from her. The match got off to a good start, and I ended up beating her eleven to one. Winning this match really made me realize that I have improved since last year. My coach has told me that I have improved greatly over the last six months, but I’m not sure I really believed him until I beat the Columbus girl.
My last singles match of the day was to the left-handed Decorah girl whom I lost to in a tiebreaker the previous week. I felt confident going into that match since I had just played really well against the Columbus girl, and because I was going into this match up with a different strategy than I had the previous week. Well, with the help of God, and the fact that I was playing a smarter game than I had the previous week, I was able to win my final match seven to five.
So this weekend has been a pretty good weekend for me in terms of tennis. I feel more confident in myself as a competitor and feel myself leaning more and more towards playing college tennis.

*picture from:


We have had our new puppy, whom we decided to name Cooper, for about a week, and have all gotten somewhat used to having a little dog roaming the house.
Cooper now is about eight years old, and is still just as little as could be. Im trying to enjoy having such a little dog around, because I know it won’t last forever, in a couple months he’ll probably be too big to hold!
While he has had several accidents in the house, we think he may have finally be house-broken. We trained him to ring a bell hanging from a door knob when he needs to go outside, and he has successfully used this system on a couple different occasions.
I never realized how unbalanced and weak little puppies could be! Cooper is always sliding all over our tile and wood floors. He is not big enough to make it up or down the stairs, but it’s really funny to watch him try!
Cooper likes to chase our seven-year old toy poodle-bichon mix, Sammy, but Sammy will have nothing to do with Cooper. I find it funny that Sammy is being grouchy and anti-social to a dog that will grow to be several times larger than him!
At this point, our only concern about Cooper is the fact that he keeps gnawing on us. We are not sure if he is biting because he is still teething, or if he is going to grow into an aggressive dog. I really hope that he won’t develop a habit of biting people. While Sammy is incredibly anti-social outside of our family, I absolutely without a doubt trust him around younger kids, because even when he is being bullied by toddlers, I’ve never seen him bite one.
Overall I am really excited about having a puppy around the house! he is really cute, and a lot of fun to watch, I just hope he is an even better dog once he gets bigger!

*picture from:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Physics Rocks!

Recently in my physics class, we were assigned to design our own musical instruments that can play at least five notes in a scale. The assignment was cleverly titles "Physics Rocks!" and we are to build a creative instrument that we should be able to play in front of the class, and write a paper about the physics principles that allow it to create sound. After getting over the initial hilarity of this concept, I realized just how hard this project is going to be. Our instruments are going to be graded on how creative they are, and while this project sounds fun, there’s only so much a high school student can do that hasn’t been done before.
I have tried thinking of unique ways to make sounds, but I keep coming up with simple solutions: drum-like instruments along with xylophones and bells. According to my student teacher, Spock (his name isn’t Spock, but he has a strong resemblance to the leading Vulcan in “Star Trek” the movie), instruments like these most likely won’t receive “A’s” because they are not creative enough.
Here are some pictures of “homemade” instruments I found online.

I think that this "instrument" is supposed to be a guitar-like instrument. I think my instrument may need to be a bit more elaborate.

This "Boxbass" instrument seems to be a bit more elaborate than the previous instrument. I think that the "Boxbass" looks really intresting, and really makes me rethinkg whether I should try making a percussion instrument, or try doing an elaborate stringed instrument like this one.

I was also thinking of trying an instrument like this, where there are mallot-like extensions that when raise, they drop and hit a surface to make a sound.

Looking online has given me some more ideas for this wacky project, and so now I have a little less than two weeks to come up with something brilliant!

Pictures were taken from the following sites respectively.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Yesterday was a really really good day. In addition to playing a good day of tennis, I was also able to hang out with friends that night, and on top of all that, my parents got a new puppy!
Currently we have two dogs, both poodle mixes. Our older dog has been living with us for about seven years, his name is Sammy (Sosa) and he is Bichon-Poodle mix. The newest member of our family is just seven weeks old, and he is a Golden-Doodle, or Golden Retriever/Poodle mix, his name has not been chosen for sure, but we are leaning towards calling him Jake or Cooper.
Jake is such a darling little puppy. He is so little right now, but will grow up to be quite a big dog. Jake has been trying to play with Sammy, but Sammy, being the big grouch that he is, is not taking to his new “brother” well.
I was so surprised to see that my parents had gotten another dog! My parents are NOT dog people whatsoever, but my dad has always sort of liked Golden-Doodles, and when he saw an add in the paper for some puppies, I guess he just couldn’t resist!
I was down in the basement with some friends, watching a movie, when my brother came downstairs and said “Jackie! we need you upstairs, its important!” This sparked my curiosity immediately because my birthday was in January, and I hadn’t done anything prestigious or exemplary lately, but when I went upstairs, I found my family congregated in the living room. When I came closer I saw that there was a little sand-colored ball of fluff laying at the center of attention.
Well as expected, Jake has caused quite a commotion in our house, our daily routines have been revolving around this new little guy, and Im sure will continue to do so!

picture from:

The Vance Fuller Invitational

Yesterday was our first pre-season tennis match-up, and it started our year off with a pretty good start. As I mentioned previously, my high school is the host of the “Vance Fuller Invitational” and is an event which occurs annually. Four schools, including my own, participated in the tournament, which means I had to play three singles matches, and three doubles matches.
I was pretty nervous for the day to start, considering the last tournament I played in occurred over Christmas Break. I played as number one in singles at the tournament, and ended up placing second overall, and my doubles partner, Sheila and I, placed first in the doubles portion of the tournament.
As I was playing, I found myself actually having fun. That probably sounds weird, you’d think that I’d have figured out by now whether or not I enjoyed tennis, but as wacky as it sounds, sometimes I really, really dislike tennis. Playing tennis yesterday didn’t cause me to finally decide whether or not I want to play tennis in college, but it did help me to realize that even though tennis can be incredibly frustrating at times, I still enjoy playing tennis.
Another thing about yesterday that made me really excited was that my coach came out and watched me play. My coach, Joe, came and watched part of my first doubles match. I really like it when he comes and watches me play, and seeing him there yesterday, made it all the more a better day.

*picture from

Friday, April 2, 2010

Previous picture taken from the following URL:

Fight for Control

After approximately three weeks of tennis practice, tomorrow is our first tournament. The tournament is a pre-season match up against three other schools. We (my school) hosts this tournament every year, and it is always our first competitive event of the year.
The beginning of this tennis season (or rather, the pre-season practices) has proved to be a particularly frustrating one. Since the end of last season, I have been playing an average about three times a week. My coach assured me that I had made a lot of progress over the year, and I agreed with him, but as the first week of practice started off, it really didn’t seem like I had improved at all. I was hitting just terribly, everything was going deep, I couldn’t get my first serves in, and I was missing shots that I normally wouldn’t have missed. I got so frustrated that I considered quitting (not too seriously, but the thought did cross my mind!) It didn’t help matters much that I couldn’t see my coach all week because he was out of town.
The first week of practice was horrible. I felt like I was playing worse than I did when I was a freshman. The second week was a little better, and this past week, I feel almost as good as I should about how I am playing.
The main problem I had with practices was adjusting to the outdoor atmosphere. Outdoor tennis is a lot different than indoor tennis. When playing outdoors, there are so many more factors to take into consideration when hitting. There’s the wind, which requires that I have better footwork, accuracy, and control of the ball. There’s the sun, which requires that I perhaps use different placement when I toss the ball to serve, because otherwise I can’t see anything but the blinding sun (sunglasses are a big no-no in tennis, and I don’t wear a visor when I play). And then there is rain. Rain is a tricky element to play with, because if the courts aren’t too wet, you play in the rain. Rain can also cause a postponement in the match, and if I am winning the match, a postponement is the last thing I want.
None of the aforementioned factors play a role when I play indoor tennis, which is the only type of tennis I played for the five or six months prior to season (thank you Iowa weather!). I was just getting so frustrated because none of the countless hours I had put into practicing tennis over the last year was apparent in how I was playing.
After chatting with my coach and thinking about things on my own, I feel much more confident in myself, and in how this season will end up playing out.

*Picture from:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Slum Dog Millionaire"

This whole weekend I have been singing along to the song “Jai Ho.” This song is really catchy and upbeat, and I was finally able to see the movie “Slum Dog Millionaire” which features the song “Jai Ho.”
I would like to start off by saying that the storyline behind “Slum Dog Millionaire” is probably one of the cleverest ideas I have ever seen portrayed in a movie. In case you haven’t seen or heard about “Slum Dog Millionaire,” it is about a young man that is just a question away from winning India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” when he is accused of cheating. These accusations against him force the main character to explain how he knew the answers to all the previously asked questions.
As the main character (forgot his name!) shares some of the more influential moments of his life, I saw just how hard life is for those living in third world nations.
I’ve heard the statistics about how many people live in poverty in this country, and how many people go with out food in that country, but to see it portrayed like that in a movie was so much more powerful. I can’t imagine living in any of the conditions portrayed on the movie, and I bet life in third world countries is even worse than what was portrayed on the movie.
While it was a really depressing movie at parts, it was still a really good movie overall. It served as a good reminder of how blessed I am to have all the things I do, and really made me think more about the things I usually take for granted.

Here is a video of a local show choir performing “Jai Ho”

***Video from the following URL:


This week was the first week we had practice for the 2010 girls tennis team, and let me just say that it got off to a bumpy start.
Ever since the end of last season I’ve been playing tennis an average of three times a week. With all that time I committed to getting better at tennis, you would think that I would have improved a lot since last year, and my coach assures me that I have, but this week of practice made me feel like every hour I have practiced since last year was a waste of time.
I’m not sure if its been the transition from playing indoor tennis all year to suddenly playing outside, contending with all of the elements, but it’s just been a really difficult and frustrating week. I got so frustrated with myself that I contemplated quitting tennis, and not playing during the season at all. Now, the idea of quitting tennis is in the back of my mind, but I know I would probably never follow through with something like that. Quitting tennis would mean that I have wasted a good portion of the past nine years of my life.
While my coach assures me that things will get better, this week really made me reconsider whether or not I wanted to pursue with tennis in college. So now, I really don’t know what to do in regards to college searching.

***picture taken from the following address:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a movie about the friendship shared between two eight year old boys. One boy, is the son of a prominent figure in the German army, while the other boy lives a life full of hardships behind the confinement of a barbed wire fence of a Nazi concentration camp.
The German boy, Bruno, is brought up in a good home, and has led a privileged life. After his father is promoted, Bruno and his family are forced to move to the German country side, where his dad will be closer to the concentration camp. While Bruno is not thrilled about having to leave his friends behind, he is excited when he sees some “farmers” outside of is bedroom window. Bruno did not realize until later that these “farmers” were actually people confined within the local concentration camp.
Every now and again, Bruno would notice the columns of smoke leaving the chimneys of the concentration camp, and without knowledge of what it was, would complain about the stench.
In the movie, Bruno’s mother as well as Bruno and his sister, have no idea what is going on inside the concentration camps. I have heard that many Germans didn’t realize what was going on inside the camps until after the war was over, but to actually see that portrayed in a movie was kind of weird for me. It was hard to believe that people could be so clueless as to what was going on right in front of them.
While exploring land beyond Bruno’s house, he comes across a boy in “striped pajamas.” After Bruno makes several trips to and from the barbed wire fence that has become the meeting place of the Jewish boy and Bruno, they form a unique friendship.
One day, Bruno’s friend expresses his distress over the fact that his father went to work somewhere in the camp, but never came back. Bruno volunteers to help the Jewish boy find his father, and so sneeks into the concentration camp. While inside the camp, the boys, as well as many others, are herded into a gas chamber, and killed.
I have seen holocaust movies before, but Im not sure that I’ve ever seen one from the perspective of the Nazi side of the war. I thought the idea behind this movie was really good, and gave good insight into what life was like for a German soldier’s family during the war.

*The previously used picture was taken from the following web adress:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Summer Festivities

As I think about the upcoming tennis season, and this summer I cant help but feel somewhat overwhelmed with everything I’m going to need to deal with, and everything I need to address before school starts up again in the fall. These next few months are going to be very stressful.
Tennis season always makes me stressed out and nervous. I am almost always a competitive person, but sometimes things are just too high strung when it comes to pre-season tennis tournaments, meets, and the annual state tennis tournament. I have been to the state tournament the past two years, once as a spectator, once as a competitor, and something about being surrounded by top notch tennis players like that, always inspires me to play more tennis over the summer, so that I can have a better chance for success the next year.
While I always want to play more tennis over the summer, I always worry that I won’t have enough time to play all the tennis I need to be playing.
I just got a job last spring as a worker for a local ice cream shop. It’s a great part-time high school/summer job, and my boss is great at scheduling around the conflicts that I have. But while all this is true, I always stress about whether or not I’ll be able to play all the tennis I want to, and to do everything else I need to take care of over the summer.
This summer I also have the opportunity to participate in a ninety hour internship. The list of various internships contains hundreds of job opportunities, and the one that most interested me was the physical trainer internship. However, ninety hours seems like a lot of time to give up considering I wouldn’t get paid, and I’m not even sure if I would enjoy something like this. So whether or not I’ll participate in this internship is still to be determined.
My last concern (for now…) is looking at colleges this summer. I don’t want to procrastinate my first college visit for next school year. I want to have a good idea of where I want to go to college at the beginning of my senior year of high school. In order to have an idea of where I want to go though, I need to start looking no later this summer.
With everything that’s been on my mind lately, I think it’s pretty understandable that these next few months could be very stressful.

**The sailboat picture from above can be found at the following adress:

***Just a note, the picture from my previous post was found at:*%26rlz%3D1I7GGLG_en%26tbs%3Disch:1

Balancing Act

This weekend was probably the first time I sat down and researched several colleges at one time. My tennis coach finally got me the list of colleges he thinks I should look at, and so I stayed up looking into the universities he recommended for me.
The list he made out included about six colleges varying from several division three colleges to one division one college.
The list included:
-Coe College
-Carleton College
-DePauw University
-Central College
-Huntington College
-University of South Dakota

I haven’t finished looking at all of the colleges from his list yet, but I have ruled out a couple of them. I don’t want to go to Coe College, (it’s just too close to where I live now) or to Central College (the town is too small, and there aren’t any actual indoor tennis courts). But while I have decided that at least two of these colleges are probably not for me, none of the colleges I have looked at so far have really convinced me that I want to go there. In fact, researching these different schools has made me rethink whether or not I actually want to play tennis in college.
I know that in the past I have probably sounded like a broken record with all the times I have said that I want to play tennis in college, but researching all of these colleges has made me reconsider whether or not college tennis is for me.
Believe it or not I actually hate tennis. Well not really, but sometimes I really feel like I do. Tennis tournaments and meets can be really stressful, and there are so many rivalries, that it can all just be too much to deal with at times. If everyone I ever had to play was always nice and pleasant (whether they were winning or losing) than I probably would decide to play college tennis. But when I get stuck playing someone with a really nasty attitude, it just takes all the fun out of playing the game. And when I think about the attitudes of my opponents, it seems like I shouldn’t let that determine whether I play tennis or not, but for me, its actually a lot bigger of a deal than it probably sounds.
As I think of the approaching high school tennis season, I can’t help but feel a sense of dread. I love playing tennis, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t always like the competitive aspect of the game.
So whether or not I am going to play college tennis is still up in the air, which presents a problem for me in doing my research. Since I don’t know if I should play tennis in college or not, it makes choosing colleges to look at a little more tricky. At this point, what I plan on doing is looking at colleges that fit the other criteria I want to see in my future alma mater, and not rule out any school based on whether or not they have a tennis program.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I forgot to credit the last picture I added to my blog! The picture can be seen elsewhere by clicking the following link.

Tennis in College

This weekend was probably the first time I sat down and researched several colleges at one time. My tennis coach finally got me the list of colleges he thinks I should look at, and so I stayed up looking into the universities he recommended for me.
The list he made out included about six colleges varying from several division three colleges to one division one college.
The list included:
-Coe College
-Carleton College
-DePauw University
-Central College
-Huntington College
-University of South Dakota

I haven’t finished looking at all of the colleges from his list yet, but I have ruled out a couple of them. I don’t want to go to Coe College, (it’s just too close to where I live now) or to Central College (the town is too small, and there aren’t any actual indoor tennis courts). But while I have decided that at least two of these colleges are probably not for me, none of the colleges I have looked at so far have really convinced me that I want to go there. In fact, researching these different schools has made me rethink whether or not I actually want to play tennis in college.
I know that in the past I have probably sounded like a broken record with all the times I have said that I want to play tennis in college, but researching all of these colleges has made me reconsider whether or not college tennis is for me.
Believe it or not I actually hate tennis. Well not really, but sometimes I really feel like I do. Tennis tournaments and meets can be really stressful, and there are so many rivalries, that it can all just be too much to deal with at times. If everyone I ever had to play was always nice and pleasant (whether they were winning or losing) than I probably would decide to play college tennis. But when I get stuck playing someone with a really nasty attitude, it just takes all the fun out of playing the game. And when I think about the attitudes of my opponents, it seems like I shouldn’t let that determine whether I play tennis or not, but for me, its actually a lot bigger of a deal than it probably sounds.
As I think of the approaching high school tennis season, I can’t help but feel a sense of dread. I love playing tennis, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t always like the competitive aspect of the game.
So whether or not I am going to play college tennis is still up in the air, which presents a problem for me in doing my research. Since I don’t know if I should play tennis in college or not, it makes choosing colleges to look at a little more tricky. At this point, what I plan on doing is looking at colleges that fit the other criteria I want to see in my future alma mater, and not rule out any school based on whether or not they have a tennis program.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

University of Dallas at a Second Glance

Last night, when I checked my phone before going to bed, I found that I had one missed call, and one unheard voicemail.
The voicemail was from my older sister, and aside from asking me the typical “how are you doing?” and all that jazz, she invited me to come visit the University of Dallas over Spring break.
I know I said earlier that I probably wont end up going to the University of Dallas, but I couldn’t help but feel a little excited about going to Texas, seeing my sister, and meeting her friends. It made me reconsider going to the University of Dallas, and I would probably consider the university more seriously if they only had a tennis team!

The above picture was taken from the following web address:

Tennis in College

I have run out of colleges that I want to look at. I guess there are a couple more I have yet to look at, but I really don’t want to talk about anymore colleges until I get a list of colleges from my tennis coach, Joe.
I was talking to Joe about how I was thinking of playing college tennis, but that I didn’t really know what colleges to consider, and so he told me that he would research colleges and make me a list of several for me to check out. Well, he has had the list made for almost two weeks, and even though he has had many opportunities (I see him about three-five times a week) he keeps forgetting to bring me the list he made out.
Last night I was at the local tennis club, and reminded him about it, and he told me that he would bring it on Sunday, and if he forgot, than he would do push-ups.
I fully expect that I will have the list on Sunday, because Joe is the type of person that makes students run, do crunches, lunges and push-ups, but he never does any. So for him to say that he’ll do push-ups must mean he’s pretty serious about bringing me my list! Though, I desperately hope he forgets, because I would love to see him do push-ups!
I am really looking forward to finding out what colleges are on his list. He said they are all in the Midwest, which is fine with me, because I think I probably want to stay relatively close to home, as long as its not too close to home.

Above picture taken from the following address:

Moving On

I remember, when I was younger, I used to believe that I could stop, or at least slow time simply by sitting down and pressing my feet against the floor or air, like the breaks on the car. Well, surprisingly enough, it didn’t actually work. Despite my desperation for time to slow, it didn’t, nor did it come to a stop. It went on, and I with it.
Sometimes I wish I could start life over from when I was about five years old, knowing then what I do now. I know what I would do differently. But if I were to do things differently, I wonder how I would be different from who I am today. I think I would be a more appreciative person, because if I were to redo most of my life knowing what I know now, I would make myself savor the moment. I would appreciate life and living on God’s green earth more. I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to grow up.
“The hardest part about growing up is letting go with what you have been accustomed to and moving on with something that you haven't experienced yet.”
This quote describes my apprehensions about growing up perfectly. Sometimes I feel so down on life merely because I feel like it’s almost over, when in reality it’s only just beginning. And maybe that’s what I find the most terrifying, the fact that after high school, my life really begins, and beginning something means not necessarily knowing where you’re going, or what will happen to your life. They say that ignorance is bliss, but right now, it feels more like torture.
I don’t want to come to terms with reality because it feels like if I do that, I’m accepting that life does go on. I don’t want to accept it, I wish I had the power to put my foot on the brakes of time, and slow down this rollercoaster ride we call life. Because for seventeen years I’ve been living my life in the fast lane, and now, I see that I may have been a little too eager to grow up.
I consider my future and all the different changes that are going to consume my life in the next year or two, and I try and think of something to hold onto, something that I can hold onto forever, as a reminder of who I was, and how I came to be who I am. There is nothing I can do to stop the inevitable. I have to move on.

I could not find an author of the quote mentioned previously, but I copied it from the following web address, (

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Food 911" with Tyler Florence

I made dinner for my family last Monday, and in doing so, I decided that culinary arts are probably not something I want to pursue with.
I made a rosemary and mushroom steak with Pinot Noir wine sauce dinner that I used to make when I enjoyed cooking more. I think my interests have definitely changed since the sixth grade (when I first became interested in culinary arts) though, because I found cooking dinner very tedious and something I probably wouldn’t want to do everyday for a living.
It’s interesting to think about though, because I remember when I used to love watching “Thirty Minute Meals with Rachael Ray,” and now, if I happened to be channel surfing, I wouldn’t give the show a second look. It just seems weird to me how drastically some of my interests have changed since the sixth grade. Now that I think about it, I can’t believe how long it has been since I was in sixth grade! When I think about that year, it seems like it was only two or so years ago that I was a newbie in middle school, but really it’s been about five years! They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but I think it’s also accurate to say that time flies when you’re growing up.

Making dinner used to be something I looked forward to doing. Last week when I made dinner however, I remember regretting that I had told my mom I would make dinner. Here is the web address to the recipe I used in making the steak dinner. It’s a recipe I have used before, and it is by Tyler Florence.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spaghetti Bridge

Growing up, there have always been several “stereotypical” school projects that I would hear about from others as well as from the T.V. One such project was the classic spaghetti noodle bridge.
About a month ago, I, as well as the rest of my class, was assigned to construct a bridge out of nothing but spaghetti and glue. The bridge had certain height, width, weight and span requirements, and the finished product was expected to hold 1000 kg for ten minutes.
It was one of those projects where the idea behind the assignment seems fun, (who doesn’t want to make a bridge out of noodles?) but once the project is started, it is not fun at all.
My group and I (four people) worked many hours on trying to make a decent noodle bridge that would get us a decent grade, but all we accomplished was meeting all the project requirements except being able to hold the 1000 kg weight for ten minutes. Which surprisingly only docked five points off our overall grade. We ended up with a B for the project, a grade we were all very pleased with!
Our bridge ended up looking very elementary, and overall the experience was very embarrassing (some of my classmates had very, very good bridges!) I am so glad this project is behind me, and I hope I will never have to construct anything like that out of noodles and glue again! (Though if I ever did have to make another noodle bridge, I would have a better idea of how to go about doing so!)

Here’s a picture I found of a really good bridge. Ours turned out looking nothing like this one! The site I found the picture on can be followed through the following URL:


I have never planned on attending one of the local colleges in Cedar Rapids. None of them have ever really appealed to me. The University of Iowa sounds like a pretty good school, and I love the Hawkeyes, but I don’t think I would ever want to go to a university with such a big population! And I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m not sure I would be able to bring myself to go to Iowa State University partially because I’ve grown up with a disdain for the Cyclones. None of the smaller local colleges have appealed much to me either.
I have never really had anything against the University of Northern Iowa, and have never looked into attending this University. I am going to research more about UNI because it’s close to home, not a huge college, but at the same time is not a ridiculously small college.
I found the UNI’s website to be very unique and helpful. You can view their site by following this link:
I have friends that are at UNI right now, and I’m sure some of my friends will attend UNI next year after graduation. UNI has a tennis team, but unless I play a ton over the next year and I half, I probably wouldn’t make the team. What I like about UNI is that it is fairly close to where I live now, about an hours drive. I am going to keep UNI in mind when I apply for colleges, and when I go on college visits next summer.

Rabies Survivor

I was looking through an issue of Scientific American magazine when I came across an article about rabies. The article was called “A Cure for Rabies?” and was about a teenager who survived an encounter with the deadly virus. I found this article very interesting, and it has made me think again about becoming a lab technician, or pursuing a similar occupation.
I read this article right out of the magazine, but the beginning of the article can be read at the following web address:

Jeanna Giese was an un-immunized fifteen-year-old when a bat bit, and infected her with rabies. Now she is the first known person to survive rabies without the immunization. Rabies is a RNA virus, and is usually located in the brain and nerves. The immune system is unable to detect the presence of a rabies microbe when first contracted because it doesn’t enter the blood stream, or the lymph nodes. If caught early enough, death from rabies can be prevented, but since the symptoms don’t start until after the treatment would do no good, lives that could be saved aren’t.
While the results of Jeanna’s tests were being analyzed, Infectious Disease Consultant, Rodney E. Willoughby, Jr., started doing some research in the event that her tests for rabies came back positive. Willoughby Jr. learned that the brains of victims who have died from rabies have virtually no visible problems, and when a victim dies after spending weeks with having intensive care, traces of the virus cannot be found. This means that a human’s immune system is capable of ridding the body of the rabies virus over time, but the body just doesn’t have precisely that; time. Apparently, this virus is able to gain control of the brain and cause it to kill the body without damaging itself. If the brain could be “stopped” for long enough for the immune system to get caught up with the disease, death may not be inevitable. After Jeanna’s tests came back positive, she was induced into a coma for a week, and during the duration of her coma, her blood and spinal fluid was tested to determine whether or not she was creating antibodies. Awaking from her coma, Jeanna was completely paralyzed, but steadily regained control of her body.
The treatment Jeanna underwent came to be known as the Milwaukee Project, and has been unsuccessfully attempted six times, so the question of whether or not there is a cure for rabies still remains.
The results of this experiment have made an impact on the world. The procedure has been tried without success in Germany, Thailand, the United States and India, though not all of the attempts followed the hypothesis used when curing Jeanna. Some experts are opposed to this therapy because it appears as though Jeanna’s survival goes against studies that have shown that brain cells are killed by the rabies virus. But the results of these studies may not be accurate because a different strain of rabies could have been used then the strain that is found in nature.
I found this magazine article to be very fascinating. I just think it’s so interesting that by putting Jeanna into a coma, her body was able to fight of the rabies virus. This is the type of science news that makes me want to major in science in college. I just don’t know if being a doctor or lab technician is something I’d be good at.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The youtube video I wanted to have displayed on my last post wouldn't embed, so here is the link to the webpage to the same video.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

If you came home from school one day to find your twenty-two year old brother watching Barnie, you might think it was a little weird. Well, at my house, that wouldn’t be considered weird at all. My brother, Ben, is twenty-two years old and has Down syndrome. I’m not writing this post to describe what it’s like to live with someone with a mental disability, or to fantasize about what life would be like had my brother been born without this disorder, because I love my brother just the way he is. What I want to write about is the fact that movies I’ve forgotten about, or haven’t even seen, are brought to the surface by my brother and his taste in movies.
When I find my brother watching a cartoon movie that was popular when I was a kid, I can’t help but stop and watch it with him. With all the different movies he picks out to watch, in a sense, I relive part of my childhood. Movies that I haven’t seen in years, or new release movies that I wouldn’t other wise see are brought to my attention by him. It's kind of weird to think about how I'm seventeen years old, but still get a kick out of watching movies that are meant for audiences much younger than I am. One such movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Granted, Alvin and the Chipmunks is one of those movies that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, but was just another one of those movies I saw by accident, because of my brother.
I came home one night and caught the end of this movie with my brother, and I liked it so much I watched it again the next night. Alvin and the Chipmunks is perhaps one of the cutest movies I have ever seen! I loved most of the movie and can’t wait to see the sequel—I mean Squekal.

Embedding disabled by request

Class Schedule

This week was the start of the agonizingly stressful process of signing up for classes for another year of school. I hate signing up for classes, and signing up for next year’s classes is proving to be particularly tricky. The past three years, which class to sign up for has been pretty obvious. This year however, I am finding a particularly hard time trying to decide what class to take for each subject area.
Senior year. I can either choose to take regular classes, and take it easy my last year of high school, or I can push myself to take harder classes. This is proving to be a fairly difficult decision to make, because on the one hand, I would like to take things easy next year, and not have to stress out about homework and AP exams, but on the other hand, I think I might feel really lazy taking classes that aren’t very challenging. The only thing I relish about signing up for classes this year is the fact that next year I wont have to sign up for anymore high school courses!
Another problem I am having with choosing which courses I should sign up for is the fact that I have no idea what I want to major in, and what type of career I want to pursue. If I had a better idea of what I want to mo later in life, choosing courses would be a lot easier, because I would simply sign up for courses that correlate with what I want to major in. But because I am very undecided in what I want to do later in my life, I am having a much harder time trying to decide what classes to take next year!
It also doesn’t help my decision making process much that my high school has tons of courses to choose from. I have so many options for classes next year, that choosing each individual course for each individual subject area is a nightmare for indecisive people like me.
Check it out at this web address, this link has a list of all the classes offered at my high school.

College of the Ozarks

I have a friend who is currently going through the college application process. Her first choice in college is the College of the Ozarks, and she is currently waiting (anxiously I might add) for an acceptance letter. I don’t want to choose a college to apply for just because I know someone that is already planning on attending, but since I really don’t have many other colleges on my mind at the moment, I have decided to take a more detailed look into the College of the Ozarks.
The information I used in writing this post came from the following web address:

The College of the Ozarks is a Christian college that could be viewed as very different from other colleges and universities. Rather than paying for their tuition, students who attend College of the Ozarks full time work for it. This is probably one of the reasons the College of the Ozarks is also called “Hard Work U.”
The idea behind “Hard Work U” is that students will work about fifteen hours a week at an assigned job to help pay for their education. This job not only helps students in need of financial assistance, but also helps develop working skills that may help prepare students for jobs after graduation.
Another positive aspect of the College of the Ozarks is that it is on many different lists proclaiming some of the nation’s top colleges. The student to faculty ratio is 13:1 which is also something I can appreciate about a college, because I really like being in smaller classes.
Although the College of the Ozarks has many positive aspects about it, it also has a couple characteristics that I don’t really care for.
Like so many of the colleges I have considered attending, the College of the Ozarks does not have a tennis team, and while I am not for sure whether or not I want to play college tennis, I don’t want to commit myself to a college that doesn’t have a tennis team, just in case I decide I want to play in college. Another aspect of the college that I’m not sure if I would like is the fact that if I went to the College of the Ozarks, I would have to get a job. As a freshman in college, it would be nice to have extra cash supplied by a part time job, but I also don’t want to have to worry about being too busy my first year of college, and I’m not sure if having a job would be too much for me to take on.
The College of the Ozarks seems like it is a really good college, and I am disappointed that it doesn’t meet all of my standards, because I think it is a really good college, but just doesn’t quite have everything that I am looking for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Growing Up

The following video is the novelty song Happiness Inc. did in 2004, when my sister played piano for the show choir.

When I watch videos of performances given by Happiness Inc. from years prior to 2010, it’s hard to believe that I am now a part of this performing arts group. Sometimes when I am watching older shows given by Happiness Inc. on “you tube” I can hardly believe that I am in a show choir that performs at the level that it does, and has such a prestigious history.
When my older sister was a freshman in high school she played piano for Happiness Inc. I was in the fourth grade at the time, and going to some of the show choir performances to support my sister, I never dreamed that one day I would be performing on stage for hundreds of people as a member of one of the top show choirs in the nation. It was never really something that interested me. So when I think about how close I was to not trying out for show choir, it’s kind of scary thinking that I almost missed out on something that has brought me so much excitement.
I’m not sure if my sister impacted me anyway to audition for show choir, but the feeling I get when I think about how my sister and I were in the same group (performing different roles) is one I can relate to my everyday life.
I have three brothers and sisters. My oldest brother is twenty-two, but was born with Down syndrome, so mentally he is about seven years old. My older sister is three years older than me, so its my memories of the decisions she had to make while growing up that keep coming to mind when I am faced with making the same decisions she had to make.
I remember my sister working on various high school projects, getting ready for prom, and trying to determine what college to go to. I never fully realized that one day I would be put in her shoes, preparing for some of the same things, and having to make some of the same decisions she had to make. It’s a lot easier to sit by and watch someone else make life-impacting decisions (when you have no say in the matter) than it is to actually be the one making the decisions. That’s what I’m finding out now. Soon, I will have to make all of these major decisions, and I really don’t like having to make decisions that will have a major impact on my life.
I have really been loving my junior year of high school so far. I’ve made some awesome new friends, and have been able to be apart of something that makes me really happy-show choir. When I think about how next year is my senior year of high school, I can’t help but think that I’ve wasted part of my life, or at least let it slip by too quickly. I like the way things are right now, and I don’t want them to end. I can’t stand the thought of moving on, and starting as a freshman in college. I just don’t want to come to terms with reality. I don’t want to grow up.