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.

*Picture from

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.

picture from:


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!

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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: