Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flipping the Coin

I talked about going to a tournament last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Well, here's a little story about something that happened there.
It was after one of our games. My team was refereeing the game, and I had to be the down ref. The down ref is the person who stands on one end of the court, looking up at the ref (who is trained and has a license and has hopefully done this many times before) and copying whatever he calls while watching the net and the line under the net to see if anyone crosses it.
So I was the down ref, ready with my whistle and everything. I think I made some of my teammates go deaf because my whistle was really loud. The first two games went really smoothly, other than the fact that one team won one set and the other team won the other, which means that there's a third game to 15 points.
I didn't know this, but apparently for the coin toss for the first serve (because one team serves first for one game, and the other team serves the first ball for the other game) of the third game is overseen by the down ref.
So the captains for the two teams come over, and I have the coin that the ref told me to use. It had a bison on it. Then I had to flip it. Let's just say that my coin tossing experience has been limited. The first time I tried, I totally failed. The coin didn't spin at all, and I was not successful in catching the coin. So it landed on the floor. That's not embarrassing at all. So I had to try again. This time, I got the coin to spin just a little, but then I failed to catch it again, and it started rolling around on the court and I had to go get it. Great.
I got back and the captains were chuckling, and two of my teammates who were sitting at the table behind me were laughing. So I took the coin and flipped it again. I caught it, which was really exciting, but I didn't catch it in one hand so I couldn't do the cool thing where you catch the coin in one hand and slap it on the back of the other hand. But it was good enough.

My mom came back from a trip to Office Depot this afternoon. She said that some guy was trying to pay the cashier with fifty cent coins, and the cashier didn't know where to put them in the cash register, so she bought four of them from him.
She brought them home and my dad saw them and started to teach me how to flip it, because, you know, it obviously wasn't a skill that I possessed. I've been practicing though, and now I can make the "ping" sound that you hear as your nail hits the coin. It goes straight up and spins, and I can catch it in one hand and slap it on the back of the other.
I'm totally prepared for this next coin toss.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tournament, Finals, and Classes

So it's been a while.
Between last Tuesday and today, I have traveled to and back from Columbus, Ohio, taken, like, three tests, written an essay, and taken a final.
Let me elaborate.
This past weekend, I went to a tournament in Columbus, Ohio, where our team lost in the semi-finals of the silver bracket. It was a two day tournament, which means that there are waves. This means that the little kids (12-15 year olds) play from 8 to 11, we play at 11 and end at 2, and then the little kids come back at 2 and play until 5 and we come back and finish up at around 7pm. This is what is supposed to happen. It doesn't necessarily mean it'll happen that way, which it didn't. On Saturday night, we were the last team to leave the gym at 10pm. We had to be at the gym the next morning at 7:30. That kind of sucked, but other than that, the tournament was a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughing, especially because my team is a team full of pranksters.
Our trimester ended today, which, of course, means that teachers have to give us really big assignments. I wrote an essay about King Lear, even though we haven't finished the book yet, and took a quiz today about polynomials (not like we haven't done that a million times before), and of course, I took a chem final. The second trimester is nice because there are no organized finals. We don't have to sit in a classroom for two hours and take a final like we do at the end of the first and third trimesters. But, of course, Dr. Horton had to give us a final which is worth 20% of our trimester grade, and we had 50 minutes to take it. 20% of your grade in 50 minutes! That's crazy. We also have homework that's due on Monday. And, to make it a little worse, Mr. Marx, the other chem teacher who doesn't give second trimester finals, wasn't here today so he cancelled class. Grrrrr.
I also have to start thinking about what classes I'm going to take next year. It's hard to choose because you can only take 3 AP classes. But I think I'm pretty set on AP Language and Composition (English), AP Calculus, and AP Spanish, with normal U.S. history and normal physics. I want to take AP U.S. history, but I can't, which is sad, because I really like AP European History this year. Oh, I get to take physics with freshmen next year because at CAPA, you had to take bio in freshman year, and at WT, you have to take bio in junior year, and physics in freshman year. It's weird to think that I'm going to be a junior next year. Then I have to start looking at colleges and then I'll be a senior and then I'll be applying to colleges and then (hopefully!) I'll get accepted, and then I'll be in COLLEGE!!! AND I'LL BE DRIVING! High school really does go by fast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving Up Stuff

Happy Mardi Gras!!
I'm going to give up something this year for Lent, as I usually do. I've figured that if I write about it, it'll be easier to keep, because it's down in writing and people other than myself know about it. Last year for Lent, I gave up chocolate because I was eating way too much of it. I did the same thing the year before, but I sort of failed both those years because someone told me that Nutella was made out of hazelnuts (which is it) and thus didn't qualify as chocolate. It turns out that Nutella does have chocolate in it, so I gave up chocolate and continued chocolate.
So this year, I'm going to give up candy and Nutella. I think that having that stuff is really a luxury and we really don't need it. Certainly our body doesn't need it. It's nice, and it makes me happy to eat candy sometimes, but there are other ways to make myself happy, and I'll have to figure out what those are. Maybe one of them will be staring at Benedict Cumberbatch's beautiful face. I'm also going to be going to a Wednesday night Bible study with my dad. The reason for Lent is really to give up something that is really valuable for God, and, with the time that you have, you spend it with Him, and that's what I plan to do.
It's certainly going to be a struggle. I'll probably realize how much junk food there is out there in the world. I'll also probably find loopholes (example: Nutella),  which is really just part of human nature. Whenever we're placed in a difficult situation, we try to get out of it or find a way to manipulate the problem to get what we want. I don't want to do that this year! I WILL NOT EAT NUTELLA!!!
It's interesting, because I wrote about my new years' resolutions (of which I already broke one, I know), and now I'm writing about Lent. I wonder a lot about what I'm going to learn in these next 40 days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Which I Discuss the Pope's Resignation

The big story in the news today is that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of this month. Since this is an event that hasn't happened since Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415, I thought that I would give my thoughts on the matter.
I think that it's good of Benedict to resign. I really just think that being Pope is a big job with a lot of responsibility for a 70-something year old man. His doctor had told him that he couldn't travel that much anymore, and his health is deteriorating. I personally think it was good of him to realize the reality of his situation and decide to resign.
All of the Popes, except of corse for Gregory XII, died in office. We studied a lot about Popes in history especially at the beginning of the year, and the Papacy always affects history. Popes kind of had big egos, and a lot of people bribed and did non-Pope-like things in order to become Pope and went against the teachings of the Bible during their time in office (with the selling of indulgences). Giovanni de Medici, otherwise known as Pope Leo X, because he was a Medici in Italy during the Medieval period, became a Cardinal at age 15, with the help of bribery. When he was elected Pope (also through bribery, I might point out), he held a party at which he painted a toddler with gold leaf and made him dance all night. Now, if you've seen Goldfinger, you know that when you paint someone with gold leaf, you will suffocate their pores and they will die. Guess what happened to the toddler? Yup, he died, which is incredibly sad. I might say here that Pope Leo X was the one who excommunicated Martin Luther (twice). In history, especially during the Medieval times, Popes wanted to hold on to their power. The Great Schism happened because these guys were way too egotistical to realize that they were being stubborn, and it took an intelligent Pope to realize that all of this political turmoil could stop if he just resigned. That pope was Pope Gregory XII. Good for him. I'm glad that Benedict isn't holding on to the position just because it holds a lot of power.
The big issue is what he's going to do next. I don't think the position of Pope comes with a retirement plan or anything. We were talking about this in history today, and basically what the College of Cardinals is going to be looking at to decide what is going to happen to Benedict is a really really old document from the fifteenth century. Things that were relevant in 1415 when Gregory XII resigned probably aren't going to be relevant today, because things happen, and the world changes. That's just part of life. But it's interesting, because for the next couple of weeks, we're going to be living a lot of what was going on back then, because the only thing that these Cardinals have to compare this situation to was written a long time ago.
There's a lot of hope now that a Cardinal from Latin America, Asia, or Africa will become the next Pope. That this Pope is going to be more liberal than that last ones, and that this new Pope will be "young," considering that basically all of the Cardinals are over 50 years old.
It's going to be interesting. I wasn't paying attention the last time this happened, because I was eight years old. It'll be exciting when we see that white smoke coming out of St. Peter's Basilica.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Today was the annual Winchester Thurston blood drive. I wasn't able to give blood (which made me angry) because you have to be 16 in order to donate, and I am young by a week.
It was kind of a big deal at school today, because they cleared out this big room where the whole high school can fit into (called the Willis Room) and put all of the supplies and stuff in there. They left the doors open, which I can imagine would be nice for the people giving blood, because it's kind of nerve-racking, but the people who were afraid of blood and needles were freaking out because they could look in and see everything.
I personally don't see why you shouldn't give blood. Of corse, there are instances when you can't because you're underweight or underage, but other than that, I think it's something we all should do. The thought that the blood you give will go to something worthwhile is a nice thought, and the only thing you're really losing is a small amount of your time. The blood drive people wouldn't let the people who donated blood go to class for one period after they donated blood. That's not a particularly bad thing either.
There were some rumors about people who either passed out or were close to passing out. Dr. Andy told us that he passed out the first time he gave blood, and I guess it's normal to be lightheaded afterwards. The school nurse was passing out WT blood drive t-shirts to anyone who attempted to give blood, which I thought was nice of her.
I definitely would like to donate blood next year. My friend Summer donated blood and she said that she asked them what blood type she was. Apparently they send you an e-mail with that kind of info on it, so next year, I get to find out what my blood type is. This has been an ongoing debate/joke in our family for a while now. In Japan, there's this cultural thing that you can find out your personality based on your blood type. This isn't exactly scientific, but it's fun. My mother is blood type A, which is known for being very OCD, good team players, and oversensitive. My dad is blood type O, which apparently results in curious people that are extremely stubborn. I'm pretty much all of these things. Whenever I do something that my mother always nags me about, like cleaning the inside of a sink after I wash the dishes, I joke that I could be blood type A. My mother is absolutely convinced that I'm O. We'll find out next year.