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Archive for May, 2012

I feel like every time I try to blog, I get distracted by something or another.  Life is crazy.  I missed about a week and a half for Houston/All States, and also 7 tests.  I still haven’t made all of those up (I’m on my 7th finally).  Yeah, life is just a little bit crazy.  But in exciting news, we have only eight days of school left (plus exams, unfortunately).  days.  I’m in summer mode already, truth be told.  I have my entire summer planned out, and I anticipate that it’ll be one of my best summers (crossing my fingers).

So in my last post, I briefly mentioned scoring an interview with the State Education Board.  I had my interview this week!  In general, it went well.  I walked in with my “professional” wear, sat in the wrong seat, and was laughed at by my interviewers.  That was my start.  If my skin was a little lighter, then the faint rouge of my cheeks would’ve been evident.  Most of all, I was so nervous and serious that the light-natured environment of the interview room almost made me uncomfortable.  I realized that this was my first legit interview.  I hadn’t anticipated that it would be so clichéd, that they would ask where I “see myself in 5 years” (journalism, of course) and how I “work with a team.”  Typical, generic questions—but hopefully my answers were sincere enough.  They asked me quite a bit about my thoughts on various education issues.  Hiring teachers was one of my biggest points, which I brought up maybe a little too much.  But I promise I was more dignified than I ought to have been.  Certain teachers have been a huge problem, unfortunately, and I wasn’t just going to let it slip away.  Other than this, the interviewers joked that my resume was made up because it was so “impressive” (which also made me feel uneasy).  I don’t know why I was nervous, but it was almost like applying for a real job.  In fact, this is kind of a real job.  Anyways, I think it went well, and I’ll find out soon!  Before I forget, the best part was at the end, when they asked me about Translucent Roses.  I guess I had somehow mentioned it in my application, but I think the story of this blog and how it became was the best part of the entire afternoon.  They genuinely loved it, and I was so relaxed talking about it.  Translucent Roses is always there for me.

I had my VYO audition, as well, last weekend, and managed to survive without any major meltdowns.  Lunch/dessert from Chef’s Corner helped that nervousness as well, as food always manages to do.  Okay, if I ever become a food critic, Chef’s Corner will be my first target.  It’s spectacular.  It’s beyond spectacular.  It’s like flying in the sky, that’s how spectacular it is.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a French bakery in Taft’s Corner, with the most delectable desserts in the world.  Go there ASAP.  It’s so worth your time/energy.

On a completely different note, I have discovered from the past few days that I really don’t like little kids.  My parents’ friends from India visited this past week, with their 7 year old devil-of-a-child.  They’re the nicest people ever, and have known me since I was born.  I think they were shocked to see me in my daily life, after seeing me in my days of preschool—-it was a culture shock, almost.  But this kid….this kid was scary, almost.  First of all, he didn’t talk to me the first few hours, which was okay, I guess.  The first thing he told me was that he liked the dogs better than me.  That was still okay—sometimes I even like my dogs better.  Then, he called me fat (pushing it just a bit).  As I was walking by him in the kitchen his last day here,  he slapped my arm and said, “hey, give me some money for toys!”  What is this, a monarchy?  That night, his last night here, their whole family came with mine to our school’s Academic Awards night, where I accepted an award for all my science fair awards.  At the end, he walked up to me, patted me on the head (got on his tip-toes for this), and said, “good girl.”  Walked away.  It made me speechless.  I don’t know if I should laugh or not.  Sometimes little kids almost intimidate me.  I mean, I was never like this.  I was shy—really shy—to the point where I wouldn’t talk no matter what.  But this kid is on the opposite spectrum, clearly.  At one point, I tried to make peace amends by giving him some chocolate.  He accepted it in a dignified manner, only to continue on to say, “now go to bed,” as if he were my mother.  My favorite part of all (this is sarcasm at its finest) was when I was having a discussion with my mom, stressing out about tests/catching up/the usual.  I had about three tests to study for, and a bit of a meltdown.  At the end of my meltdown, I realized the kid was there, and he started slow clapping and saying, “good acting, good acting.”  The nerve.  But it’s so funny, I just can’t control myself.  I thought I was sassy, but this kid beats me on all levels.  I feel like Pablo is the only kid I can really tolerate—but he is blood-related, so that probably explains why.  There’s just something about genetics.

All my thoughts in this post are sort of unrelated.  Last weekend was a four-day weekend for us, when I had my sophomore advisory.  Saturday night, I went out to dinner/movie with some of my friends, and we had a blast.  At dinner, we pretended it was one of my friend’s birthday (hers was in April), and we couldn’t restrain ourselves from laughing hysterically, all while trying to be controlled.  We watched What to Expect When You’re Expecting in the theatre, a predictably stupid chick flick, yet incredibly hilarious.  Plus, we were on a bit of a sugar high from coffee/ice cream/candy.  There were swarms of teenage girls around us rolling their eyes at our obnoxious laughing/comments…..to the point where I was certain we would be kicked out of the theatre.  We were insane/embarrassing, but it was so fun….and that’s coming from me!

Okay, there are so many songs I’ve been listening to.  Unfortunately, they’re all very similar/my type…..but fortunately, they’re all very like me :).  But this video that I’m posting is a piano piece that is just to die for.  I love classical, and nobody can stop me.

And that’s all I have for this post.  A lot of stuff has happened, but I can never remember what I want to mention in my blog posts.  Maybe little things here and there will pop up!

Late addition: I was on Twitter, as usual, and I found a feed for a summer bucket list.  I’m making my own now, while using some of theirs.  Here it goes (I’ll probably add more later):

  • Finish the Hunger Games series
  • Not procrastinate on my summer homework
  • Dance in the rain
  • Sleep under the stars
  • Catch lightning bugs
  • Meet new people
  • Write a novel (I’m laughing because I know this won’t happen, yet I say this every summer)
  • Do a photo shoot
  • Go to a baseball game (I only do this for the good food, I won’t lie)
  • Maintain a clean and organized room
  • Learn a new skill
  • Start going on runs (I’m laughing again, because AGAIN, this is highly improbably/unlikely….but it doesn’t hurt to try)
  • More TBD 🙂

~B

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Hi there!

I haven’t blogged in over a week—like actually blogged—so this might be a long post.  The past few weeks have been hectic, for obvious reasons.  I spent last weekend at the All-State Music Festival!  13 hour days, 10 hour rehearsals, 3 days.  It was so worth it.  Basically it was a VYO/Reveille (VYO summer week) reunion with old friends, a fest of music lovers all around.  If I were to place myself in one “group” or “type”, I would definitely fit into the orchestra group.  We click well.  It didn’t really matter that I was almost last chair…..but I played with some amazing musicians, which was great!  Our conductor was a world-renowned cellist from UMich, no big deal or anything.  He played some Bach for us, and me+cello+Bach=in heaven.  But sometimes even orchestra geeks don’t understand my love for classical music (except for the über geeks).  There’s just a certain je ne sais quoi about it.

More music—my VYO audition is…tomorrow.  I’m freaking out.  This is my dream.  When I first started playing in an orchestra in 7th grade, I hated my violin.  Like hated it.  When I was 8 or 9 or so, I hated it so much I would throw the case down the stairs “accidentally,” hoping it would, by chance, break.  By 7th grade, my violin and I had formed some minor bond.  I still hated the thing—the way it would squeak and hurt my shoulder.  More than that, I hated waking up at 10 am every Saturday for orchestra rehearsal.  I was a….hostile….kid, to say the least :).  Anyways, I started loving the violin the beginning of freshman year, can you believe it?  We had a conductor in Sinfonia (2nd level of the VYOA) named Ronald Braunstein.  Unfortunately, he left the VYOA due to certain controversies, but he was one of the best musicians I’ve met.  Playing under his direction was unlike anything in the world.  He was soon replaced by Jeff Domoto, who still leads Sinfonia and VYO, and is the perfect balance of an educator and a musician.  This past year, I was in Philharmonia, the level between Sinfonia and VYO.  Even though I always hated my violin, my dream was to be in VYO—to play in Carnegie Hall and travel the world with my violin.  Now that I love my violin, this dream is more of a must.  I have never, ever put so much pressure on myself for anything like this before, and that’s saying a lot.

I’ve had the past two days off, and I had my sophomore advisory today!  Basically, sophomore advisory is where you talk about your academics, show all your work, and have a roundtable discussion with your parents, a teacher, a community member, and a friend.  AKA, it’s a brag-fest and a praising-fest.  But I invited my calculus teacher to mine, who’s literally the most intimidating teacher ever.  I’m not scared of teachers, but I’m scared of him.  At the same time, he’s my favorite and most respected teacher.  It was so interesting to hear what he said.  And of course, my dad gave me the most constructive feedback.  “Focus on a lot of things, but stop overworking yourself, etc etc.”  Classic dad.

Okay, so I just heard back from the State Education Board, and they liked my application so much, that they called me in for an interview!  My first legit interview—I’m so pumped.  Then again, I have to go the State House, and that’s intimidating.  Wish me luck!

Woo!  This wasn’t that long of a post.  I haven’t been listening to anything new recently, except for Regina Spektor, who’s rather bizarre.  I need some new musical exposure in my life.  In other news, I’m watching Harry Potter right now.  I love it, of course.  (Prisoner of Azkaban is the best for its lack of Voldy and extra thrill).  Usually I’m a chick-flick, sappy type of movie lover….but HP just gives me that rush.  That’s the extent of my rebellious side…

Until next time…

-B

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Happy 16th, Ila

A very late, yet sincere happy 16th to Ila Pollard, who still hasn’t left our hearts today.  May 6th is her birthday, and a day we—I—scour the newspapers for pictures & poems & memories.  She would have been 16—-16, the age that we officially declare ourselves “grown up”, the age for Sweet 16’s and extra pampering and unconditional love.  But we know that the latter is always there with Ila.

Happy Birthday Ila.

~With love.


  Ila’s handprint drawing from her first communion.  Thanks to Sarah Bouvier for this picture 🙂

I also found this obituary from January 20th of this year, the death anniversary of both Ila and her grandmother.  Below, I’ve quoted what her father wrote.

“Minutes, hours, and days have turned into years. Seven, to be exact; seven long years filled with tears, wondering and wishing for you to be here.
Two things cannot change; one being that cold winter day and the other is the hearts that were broken that very same day.
Look down with love as we look up and within doing the same.”

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I-SWEEEP

Howdy from Texas!  People, contrary to popular belief, don’t actually say that here (at least in Houston) unless they’re trying to radiate their Texanness.  They also don’t necessarily walk around in cowboy boots with a straw in their mouth.  [I have such bad generalizations of people].  They do, however have those rugged Southern accents.  Accents in Kentucky or Louisiana are so sweet and mellifluous, while Texan accents really hit you.  It’s funny because I’ve travelled so much, yet barely in the US, so my general perception of the country is a bit skewed.  This is my first time so far southwest, so it’s kind of like an unknown world for me.

Houston is an interesting city.  4th largest in the country, every 5th person is foreign born.  I’m sure in this statistic, they account for the massive amount of illegal immigrants from various countries.  Some parts of Houston remind me of Dubai, others of Florida, and some even of India.  But even if Texas isn’t that far from home, this is the most cultural immersion I’ve ever had.  Over 70 different countries are represented at I-SWEEEP.  For example, the other day, I had breakfast with people from Azerbaijan, lunch with Macedonians, coffee with South Africans, and went swimming with Americans. Every minute, I notice new countries, like Tunisia or Belarus.  And what’s even more amazing is that we all have something in common—we’re geeks.  Okay, on a larger scale, what we have in common is one, the love we share to make a change; two, unique cultures; and three, science.  Even more than all this, when we talk to each other about the minuscule details of our lives, we realize we aren’t so different.  If you compare 200-meter relay times between a South African and a New Yorker, sure, the South African will naturally be faster, but what’s important is that it’s something they have in common.  At one point in the fair, the Macedonians (whose booths were around mine) burst into song and dance, and except for the language, it looked like something I would probably do.

I truly do think that the greatest part of I-SWEEEP isn’t the world-changing science (which itself is incredible on all levels), but the world connections.  It opens your eyes.  Before this trip, I had briefly heard of Macedonia from forced studying for GeoBees, imagining it to be an insignificant country in the middle of nowhere.  But who would’ve thought that in Macedonia, some of the world’s most brilliant people have emerged, ones who are going to Cambridge, Harvard, and MIT on invitation.  Who would’ve realized that there, they wear skinny jeans and t-shirts like us.  It’s such an odd feeling to realize all this, the way we’re so connected.  You can just go up to someone and ask where they’re from, prompting a conversation comparing countries.  Then there are us Americans, who argue over the best state (Vermont wins for Ben & Jerry’s, skiing, and maple syrup) and how, compared to everyone, our country is so run-of-the-mill.  Of course, I have India to talk about—but then again, no place is home other than Vermont.    While we would have these conversations, all the foreign kids would constantly talk about how they felt like they were in an American movie, how our conversations simulated those movies impeccably.  It’s funny because when the French visited, they said the same thing!  I guess Hollywood is legit.

The opening ceremony here was amazing.  Although the fair is only five years running, the intricacy and authenticity is mind-blowing.  Several respected speakers delivered speeches (including a three-time Harvard grad), while various countries displayed their ethnic dance.  Unfortunately, the opening ceremony was literally five minutes after I arrived, so the tension kept me from enjoying it as much I would’ve liked to.  Classic me.

We kick-started Friday morning with a public visit, where over 3,000 people came to look at our projects.  There were young kids who had a school assignment to talk to a variety of people, but it was evident that they were uninterested most of the time.  That’s completely understandable, because the type of science here is extremely complex, which makes it difficult to explain on simple terms.  I didn’t understand most of them myself, to be honest.  There was this one girl, however, who kept on returning to my project, because she enjoyed the fact that I had used Petri dishes, which, in science, is a pretty usual thing.  She had used them in a recent project she completed, and as I explained my use for them, she began to jump around with excitement at the familiar terminology.  But it worked!  It made her interested about my topic, and that’s what science is essentially about….connections.  In a sense, all of our projects at the fair are connected in some way or another.

Although I opted for the mundane title “The Effects of Flow Rates on Purification of Water using Bio-Sand Filters” over “Let’s Clean Water!!!!!!!”, my project hopefully was not mundane.  In a general summary, I used sand filters to test how flow rates (speed of water through a filter) affect filtration of water (faster flow rates are better, if you’re interested!).  Although my project is relatively simple and a minute detail of purification, I think what interested judges, and myself, is that sand filters are not as known today, but are becoming more popular.  More than that, I worked to perfect one aspect out of many for clean water, which is one step ahead of where we were before.

I found another kid in the fair who also used biosand filters, which is almost an unknown  concept.  His methods varied so much, but seeing his project helped me understand mine better, and vice versa.  Across from me, a guy from Florida genetically engineered rice.  Near me, a girl went to schools in Africa and did tests to find the best learning environment.  There was one group from Arizona who set up secret cameras in forests after a forest fire to see the wildlife action in relation to the fire.  The projects were life-changing, and that’s an understatement.  I was surrounded by kids who will actually change the world, or actually have already.

But besides changing the world and all, they’re normal kids.  Ysou would typically expect social-outcast geeks to be at something like an international science fair, but that’s far from the truth.  We had a social event, which was basically an event of forced interactions and awkwardness.  It’s so much more natural to meet someone as you find something in common unintentionally, rather than forcefully going up to them and making a connection.  A group of people and I ditched early to head to the pool, which was on the 24th floor of the beautiful Hilton of Americas.  Next to the pool was the skyline, where you could see the entire city from the rooftop.  For an hour or so, my fear of heights barely phased me.  Rather, I was captivated.  This was the night of the super moon, which wasn’t as evident in Houston.  But lying on the chaise and looking at the clouds float by was good enough, as the city lights radiated the sky.  It was so lively, on a level different from New York (which is too lively sometimes).  There was this gentle balance of peace and life.

Yesterday was the awards ceremony, the part we all were looking forward to.  I imagined that I would go away with nothing, but I was happy with the experience, and I say this sincerely.  The fact that I made it to the fair was big enough for me, and the fact that I met such incredible people made the entire experience.  As they read off awards and familiar faces stepped onto the stage, I couldn’t help but feel honored to know them.  In the middle of the ceremony, a Congresswoman from Yale spoke.  But as she began to speak, I almost felt as if I was watching a commencement address.  She was genuine in the way she spoke, making the cliché of speeches like this worth listening to.  She said that the fact that we were here, 400 best projects from 2500 entries, took us steps ahead to changing the world.  She said that it’s not about the awards or recognition, while those are phenomenal, but about the change.  And my favorite line of hers—-she told us that awards challenge our heads, while the change we choose to make is from our hearts.  Wow.  I think it’s a dream of mine to be a commencement speaker one day, to be able to deliver a speech that will change someone’s life.  Bucket list new edition.

As the Honorable Mentions for my category, environment, rolled in, I began to grip my armrest.  I realized that maybe I could’ve gotten one.  As it passed and Vermont wasn’t called, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.  When Bronze was being announced, I crossed my fingers, but didn’t have much hope.  They, however, announced my name in the middle (butchering it of course), and all I could do was smile.  The kids around me were my friends, ones who had innovative projects, and I was actually being compared to them.  When the gold medalists came around (14 people in each category), project after project were people from booths around me, people I spent 7.5 hours on judging day with, laughing and talking.  As they announced the grand winners, I couldn’t help but feel emotional myself ( have a problem with my emotions….).  The winners in environment were the girls from New York who were next to my booth, one of whom is attending Yale in the fall.  As they were laughing and smiling up there, I realized that if I were up there, I would be crying my eyes out.  In fact, some of the gold medalists were crying heavily.  Winner of an international science fair.  It’s huge.

I spent last night with everyone I had met, hanging out by the skyline and exchanging names for Facebook.  Of course, we went around congratulating everyone, because everyone deserved it.  And a bronze for me is good enough (plus $200).  This is actually making me excited for next year, because I’m convinced to do another project.  I have so many ideas to start this summer, and I think I’m finally beginning to appreciate science.

Oh my, I’m so sorry for that long post.  Internet was iffy, as well as time, so I just kind of blurted everything out.  This was, as you can see, an incredible experience.  And even though I may never go into science, journalism is broad.  Anything helps journalists.  One day, I could be working for a science journal or be reporting live from these international science fairs.  Who knows, I could even be reporting about one of my friends from the fair and their science accomplishments.  Who knows where life takes you.  One day, I might work with these people or see them in the industry.

For now, I have one more fair (Stockholm Junior), and possibly two, if I win that one and go to Stockholm (unlikely).  But for now, I’ll be back in Vermont in a few hours!  I’ll miss the warm weather greatly.

[Time to start studying for my AP, which is Wednesday.  Help.]

-B

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Happy May!

This is going to be a short-ish post, because I’m kind of in a rush, but felt like blogging.  How typical.  I started following a feed on Twitter called Blogger Problems, and every single one is relatable.  “So many post ideas, so little time”, “Every time I talk about my life, people always say ‘I know I read your blog'”, “I just have a lot of feelings”, and my favorite: “Warning.  Anything you do could end up in my blog.”  It’s like we bloggers (not Tumblr-ers…) have a secret code or something.

As an aspiring journalist, I got my first official article published!  It’s not super impressive, but I went through the whole process of coming up with a story, interviewing, writing, editing, etc.  It’s a start, really.  There are two other articles that I’ve written for the Other Paper, so if you’re a South Burlington resident, keep an eye out!

I recently just admitted an application to the State Board of Education for a student position that they’re offering.  The position is a two-year position, one non-voting and one voting year.  For my application, I had to write out my extracurriculars/clubs/awards, have recommendations, and write an essay.  My essay was about academics vs. sports, and I tried to keep it as non-offensive as possible.  Basically I argued that there should be a balance between the two, rather than the obsessiveness of sports all the time.  There have been weeks when I’ve missed every class of biology for tennis, which is ridiculous.  Now, I don’t necessarily like biology, but it’s difficult to catch up on!  Hopefully my arguments in the essay were valid and reasonable.  I’m a fan of sports, definitely, but I’m also academic-obsessed.

Other than these aspects, I had to write a brief bio.  Not only did I mention Translucent Roses, but I ended my bio with “I appreciate food.”  I meant it in the most scholarly way possible.  I mean, I appreciate food, which is an art, in my opinion.  It’s like saying I appreciate Van Gogh or Da Vinci or Pollock, isn’t it?

I find out in June whether or not I get the position, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

As I’ve been saying a lot, I’m going to the I-SWEEEP Olympiad in Houston TOMORROW!  Truth be told, I was not excited for this at all.  But now that I think about it, I’m pumped.  I get to meet thousands of kids from around the country and the world, stay in a beautiful place, and spend my time in warm weather.  Plus I get to dress up and talk (when I present).  I would say that sounds pretty good.  So, I guess I technically am travelling, only a few days after break.  I’ll try to blog, but with my AP exam coming up and presenting at the fair, I’ll be busy.  (Though, this usually never gets in the way of me blogging…..blog=procrastination).

I also just found out the other day that I’ve been chosen to go to another science fair in Boston in June, called the Stockholm Water Prize.  The winner of this science fair actually gets to go to Sweden.  Last year, the US winner who went to Sweden won at Sweden.  Yeah, impressive.  My hope is to at least place nationally, but I don’t know if I can pull off winning.  Who knew that one project would take me to so many places?

I don’t have a song to post, because I’ve just been listening to loads of Carla Bruni.  Sometimes I wish I could go hideout somewhere in France, in a small vineyard, and speak French all day long.  I would buy baguettes in the early morning and cook rich dishes like Julia Child.  What a dream.  Maybe I’ll add this to my bucket list!  Speaking of my bucket list, I’ve come up with a few more things, but I feel like they’re kind of ridiculous.  I mean, most of the stuff on their is too far for me to ever reach, but a girl can dream!  My newest one is “save a life” (don’t laugh), but hopefully I’ll never have to be put in a situation like that…

Now that I’m done rambling, I should probably go finish packing and start my official break (only not really, because it’s quite stressful).

~B

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