Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mole Day

Friday October 23rd was one of the best days I have had in a LONG time. I knew it was going to be a good day right from the start because it was MOLE DAY. For those of you who do not know about mole day, it was created as a day to celebrate chemistry. It is not to celebrate the moles found under the ground as some of you may have been thinking up to this point. A mole is a unit of measurement, and is expressed as 6.02X10^23 atoms, molecules, or ions. Moles are pretty confusing at first and when I learned about moles in AP Biology, I didn’t really understand it very much. Then later on in my chemistry class my teacher was explaining to and it made so much more sense. As extra credit for chemistry, I made a mole day t-shirt and tie died it to wear on mole day.

For chemistry we had to make a mole that looked like a specific scientist. This time it was the animal kind of mole because we were using a play on words. I sewed a mole together, and then I had to make him look like my scientist, Sir John Joseph Thomson. Sir John Joseph Thomson won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in physics and chemistry. His major area of study was the structure of an atom. We brought our moles to school and on Friday we got to look at everybody’s and vote which ones we thought were the best. The top three in each class period get extra credit so I really hope people liked mine! After that we got to play mole day games. One game was on the smart board, the object was to locate the elements listed on the periodic table as fast as possible. Another game was to get a “mole” in one while playing a little miniature golf course our teacher set up. All this sounds really like elementary school but it was just a nice break for all the hard work we had done so far in the school year.

Other than that mole day was great because I didn’t have any quizzes or tests in any of my classes which is a very rare event for me. I was supposed to have a quiz in AP U.S. History but our teacher played the old read the directions which said don’t take this quiz. Ever since I was in elementary school teachers have been handing out these quizzes which say at the top, Directions: If you are reading this do not take this quiz. Simply wait a few minutes, then get up and hand a blank quiz in. I always read the directions on quizzes and tests so it is funny to look around the room and watch almost everybody else frantically writing down their answers to the nonexistent quiz. The moral of the story was supposed to be that one must always read directions before taking tests and quizzes. I can still remember the sigh of relief I felt when I realized I didn’t have to take the quiz.

My 1st(maybe 2nd) Spanish Club Meeting

On Thursday I went to my first Spanish club meeting! Well, to be exact it was my 2nd Spanish club meeting if I count the time I went my sophomore year because it was right before the Spain meeting to go to Spain. I don’t really like going to clubs, but it seems like all of my friends are in clubs so I figured I better get more involved. Yes, I know peer pressure isn’t usually good but this is the positive kind.

It was really convenient to go to Spanish club because I have Spanish 6th hour with the teacher who teaches Spanish club so all I had to do was wait a little while after class. One of my friends, AM, decided to join with me so we waited together for about 10 minutes until people started showing up. The Day of the Dead is coming up, which is a Spanish holiday so we colored masks. We had to color a lot of them because Senor K plans on posting them along the hallways. Luckily though, he didn’t make us cut them all out. I will talk more about Day of the Dead once it gets nearer to the holiday but I just want to mention that it is not the Spanish Halloween. It kind of seems like it because it is all scary and spooky like Halloween and also around the same time as Halloween.

After we colored out masks we ate cookies. They were the good kind too, all soft and chewy with a thick layer of frosting on the top. I really wanted to eat the whole box but I figured I needed to save some for the other kids. As we ate our cookies we decided to work on what we were going to make our club t-shirts look like. It’s really funny because it seems like no matter what organization I join the first thing that always comes to everyone’s mind is what our t-shirts are going to look like. I don’t think I have been to a single club meeting or out for a single sport that doesn’t insist on spending days deciding how our t-shirts are going to look. Don’t get me wrong, I love t-shirts, especially when they are specially designed. All I know is that when I graduate from high school I am going to have WAY TOO MANY t-shirts.

District Cross Country Meet

This week was the district cross country meet at Noelridge Park. It was a varsity meet only so I didn’t run. I was going to go watch the meet since it was just up at Noelridge but it was pouring rain after school and I had Spanish club so I decided not to. Later I felt bad that I didn’t go because I knew that my teammates were out there running in the rain and the least I could have done was go out and support them. Unfortunately, they didn’t qualify for state at the meet. I was bummed out when I heard because it’s fun to get to be part of a team that goes to state. We also get to make the state qualifying t-shirts, but that hasn’t happened since my freshman year.

According to JS, one of my friends that went to the meet but couldn’t run because she has two stress fractures, said that they ran really well. We were only behind the 3rd place team by 4 points. In cross country, unlike marching band, 4 points is very little. It is about the difference of two girls moving up two places in the race. I think our coach was bummed that they came so close, but that they didn’t make it. If you don’t know much about cross country, all you need to know is that at the district race, the top three teams qualify for state. We were the fourth team. Each section of Iowa runs a district meet. The top three teams from each of those races will then go onto the state meet. Kennedy did this my freshman year by getting 3rd at Districts which was really exciting. Even if your team doesn’t qualify, but you do really well individually, you can still go to state, without your team. I believe it is the top 15 runners that automatically go to state. I personally think it would be scary to have to go to the state meet knowing you were the only person from your team running but I also know it would be a great achievement.

Overall, I think our team could have qualified for state. I know people say, could of, would of, should of, all day but I really believe it. Our best runner on the team, KM (irunifly), had a really bad cold and didn’t feel good the day of the race. Another one of our really good runners hurt her ankle and she couldn’t compete. I’m sure other teams had setbacks just as we did though. Either way, I am happy the team did so well and I hope they can qualify next year! We also decided what we are going to do for the senior gifts, but I can’t talk about that until after the banquet on Thursday just in case KM reads this post!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Topics

Okay so I never really did a blog post about what my topics for this year were going to be. The reason being it took me quite a while to decide but I have finally come up with them. My first topic is going to be school activities. Mostly these will be ones I am involved in like pep band, marching band, concert band, cross country, track, or other various clubs. This topic also might include any other school events. So basically this is just a broad topic of "school" if that is allowed. Don't be surprised if I talk about marching band a lot, since that is one of my interests in life. My second topic is going to be Spain. As I have mentioned numerous times before I went to Spain over the summer and I had the time of my life! If I ever get the chance to go to another country again Spain will be on the TOP of my list. When I talk about Spain I will try to include some facts about the country while sharing an experience I had while I was there. My third topic I had chosen is biology. I really like science in general and as of recently I have ordered an issue of a science magazine(I can't remember the name but I will find out when it comes in the mail). Sometimes I read Scientific American articles on the Internet and other such stuff but this is the first time I am actually going to PAY to read the articles which will be nice since I usually don't get the full length article online. Once I get my magazine in the mail I can start this topic since I haven't actually done a post on it yet. I will probably just write about interesting articles I read and scientific mysteries(those are my favorite!).

So although I probably won't talk about each of these topics each week I will definitively talk about them over the course of the year. I hope you find my topics interesting as I do! Hopefully soon I will get to add some visuals to my page.

The End of Marching Band Season

Lately many people have been getting sick with swine flu and other illnesses as winter approaches. Unfortunately, the marching band at Kennedy was hit pretty hard. We were continually missing at least 20 kids from class everyday, which is a good size portion of our entire band. I didn’t think it would matter that much, although I did want the people to get better and get back soon. Unfortunately, our principal and director thought that we had too many people sick and that we needed to cancel the competition we had planned for Saturday. We were going to head to Ankeny and perform in our last competition of the year. I was really excited because I love marching band and I really wanted to end our season on a high note. Our director though, knew most of us who were coming to school were also sick and as much as I know she wanted to go, she knew putting us all on a bus together would only make us sicker. She also thought our show had too many holes and it just wouldn’t be worth it. I found out that our competition was cancelled at the beginning of 6th hour and I was pretty depressed I’m not going to lie. Some kids were really excited but I really look forward to these, especially this competition because it was our last one. I guess I am not a senior, thank goodness, so there is always next year.

Even though our marching band competition was cancelled we still performed at the Friday night football game against Dubuque Hempstead. We lost the game in the last 50 seconds which was sad but other than that the night was pretty fun. I was still kind of bummed that we weren’t going to Ankeny but I wanted to make our show good since it would be the last time we would perform it for the football crowd. It was also senior night so we got to watch all the seniors walk across the track and hear their college and major of choice. That was nice to hear and it was fun cheering for all the band kids. After that we performed our show for the last time on the football field. I felt that it went really good. At the end of every performance our director usually gives us a little speech on how we did. Afterwards she did give us a speech which also explained why she chose for us not to go to Ankeny. I realized that she really did have our best interests at heart but it was still hard to understand why we weren’t going. She told us we did everything we could with what she had given us and she even got teary eyed at the end. I thought it was a very emotional speech and I was glad she gave it. Earlier in the week she had given us a speech and said that no matter how old we were or where we went with our lives we would always remember being a part of the Kennedy Marching Band as well as all the people we met along the way. I know that she means this because every year at our competitions all the college students who have graduated come back to watch us perform and they really want us to do well. It makes me happy to know that even though I only have one year left after this my friends and I will always be a part of the marching band. Out of all the teachers I have had at Kennedy, my marching band director has taught me the most. I have some of the worst memories when I think of band: grueling long hot days at band camp and boring days sitting in Symphonic Band. But when I look back at the best memories I have of high school so far they all seem to be of marching band with the great people I met in marching band. Sometimes marching band really sucks, but yet I find myself coming back every year because I just can’t quit. I don’t really know why I love it so much, I mean we are just marching around a field playing music. It’s just that feeling I get every time I hear a recording of us playing Carmina Burana, or how I feel as I march off the field at Valley knowing I did my best as the drum line plays the cadence behind us. It’s the feeling that we are all one big family. Once I leave the halls of Kennedy to move on to what some would say are bigger and better things I know I will always remember the family I had at Kennedy and as well as the one class that made me smile every day(at least almost every day).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Last Cross Country Meet of My Junior Year

Today was my last cross country meet of my junior year. I hate to say it but I was happy it was coming to an end. I like to run but it's nice to take a break after running for so many months. Instead of going to practice after school I'll be able to go home or attend club meetings which I couldn't do all of first term. Tomorrow will be the first day of no running for me and I am very excited. Me and some people are getting together and we are going to make mole day t-shirts for chemistry because October 23rd is mole day.

I felt like I ran okay at my meet. I feel like I could have done better but I usually always feel like that. It was very cold out to say the least. When we got there it was raining on and off and the wind chill made it feel like it was snowing outside. Luckily, I was all wrapped up in my warm clothes but I was dreading the moment I would have to take them off to run. I sat around and froze for a while until the freshman and sophomore race began. Then I decided that despite how cold it was, I needed to get up and cheer for them. After that it was time to warm up. It was terrible at first because I was so cold I didn't even want to move. Luckily though, I warmed up pretty quickly. In no time at all we were at the starting line ready to run. I kept my sweats on as long as possible to try and stay warm. A few minutes before the man shot the gun I quickly took all my sweats off. It was very hard to do because it was so cold outside. All I had on to race in my uniform- shorts and a tank top like shirt. We were allowed to wear under amour but it had to be black and of course I manage to only buy bright colors of under amour so that was a problem for me. It didn't end up mattering that much because once I began running I no longer felt very cold. It was definitely the muddiest course I have ever run on. Before my race some of the freshman and sophomore girls told me that they slipped and fell. This worried me a little but I was wearing spikes so I didn’t think it would matter. I had a little more friction running up and down the hills in my spikes but I still had some pretty close calls. By the time I was finished my legs were covered in mud. I didn’t really mind too much, it was actually kind of fun to get all muddy for a change of pace. It was the third time I had run that specific course and it was the most enjoyable of all the times.

Once I was done I did a cool down with my teammates. It was nice to know that I was done for the season and that I would be able to just relax for a while and sleep in on the weekends. Unfortunately, on Saturday I won’t get to sleep in because I have to take the PSAT but hopefully on the weekends after that I will get to. After the cool down I cheered for the varsity girls and when they were done we immediately headed on the bus to go back to CR. We were so excited to get on the bus because it was so cold outside and we had been freezing for far too long. On the way back we ate subway which was really good and just relaxed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

IC Cross Country Meet Number 2

On Thursday night I had my second to last cross country meet of the season. I enjoy cross country, but I am definitely ready for the season to come to an end. It is always nice just to relax once the season is over and just come home after school instead of having to run. Granted, I will only be able to take a week or two off before I need to start running again for track season but those two weeks off will be very nice. Our coach says we are going to have a 400 club with t-shirts for the people that put in 400 miles between cross country and track season and I definitely would like to be part of that. The meet on Thursday night was in IC. It is a really nice track and I know it very well so I was pumped to run despite the cold conditions. We kept our sweats on up until about a minute before our race was to start. We then stripped down solely to our uniforms, which are shorts and a tank top. Some of the other teams were wearing under amour under their uniforms but our coach said we shouldn’t do that so I listened. It ended up being good advice because once the gun went off I didn’t even think about the cold air. It was very cold out but I just focused on running and before I knew it I actually felt a little warm. The race went very well and I got one of my better times for the season.

After the race, I ate a huge muffin. It was double chocolate chip and it was so good. Everybody on the team received a muffin when they were done running as a snack. After that I went on to cheer for the varsity girls with my teammates and the other fresh/soph runners who had run earlier. Our team did pretty well as a whole and our coach was happy. Once we got back to school, I had to attempt to make it to the Kingston game I had to march in. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I was with two other girls who also do cross country and marching band. They had to go into the band room to retrieve their instruments (I already had mine) but unfortunately the doors were locked to the band room. We spent about 15 minutes trying to find someone to unlock the doors when I finally came across a man. I asked him kindly if he was a janitor, simply because we had been running into a lot of construction workers. He looked at me very funny and I explained the situation about why we needed to get into the band room. As I was doing this I realized he was clearly not a janitor. He agreed to open the doors for us and we thanked him, but I think he was still a little offended that I had at once thought he was a janitor. All the rushing ended up being for nothing because we made it there in plenty of time for half time.


This Saturday was one of the biggest days of the season for the marching band. We headed to West Des Moines Valley for Valley fest which is a really big marching band competition with a lot of good bands. There were even bands from South Dakota and Minnesota. Coincidently one of them was Irondale, who we traveled up north to compete with earlier in the year. This is usually the biggest out of all the competitions for us, but this year we traveled up to Irondale which we don’t usually do. Irondale was probably just as big and competitive as this competition if not more.

Earlier in the day, on Saturday, we had the state competition at Kingston. This is always more of a warm up for the competition later on in the day. Usually this is a pretty enjoyable competition, and don’t get me wrong, it was, minus the fact that it was absolutely freezing outside. Earlier in the day we had a practice and it was actually snowing outside! It was still a fun competition but I could have done without the cold weather. We didn’t stay for the awards because we had to get onto our next competition. We later found out we got a Division 1 scoring here, which is really good. After this we ate lunch and packed up for Valley. I was super excited for the competition, even though it was freezing. The bus ride to Valley usually takes forever but this time it seemed really short. It was probably because it was the most fun I had ever had on a bus ride. I don’t know if it is because I am an upperclassmen now or what, but bus rides seem to just get more and more fun over the years.

When we got to Valley we had to get our game faces on because the bus ride there had been rather rowdy. It was kind of disappointing because usually when we get there we all run around, play games, and eat dinner in the grass but this time it was so cold we didn’t even want to get off the bus. Unfortunately though, we had too, so we hesitantly got off the bus and changed into our uniforms. We then walked to our warm up area to prepare. Another disappointing factor of the night was that usually before our show we have about 10 minutes were we get together with our sections and the seniors give inspirational speeches about how our season is coming to an end and we all need to do our best because this is one of our last competitions and its big. This part of the night was left out for some reason, despite my enthusiasm for it. I guess I always have next year though, when me and the other seniors will get to be the motivational speakers. After our warm up we performed. I thought our performance was pretty good and according to our director we only tore once. Ideally we wouldn’t have torn at all but once is better than twice. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that great in the scoring and we were beat by Washington and Jefferson, our biggest rivals. We usually beat Jefferson but I guess they really stepped their game up. We haven’t gotten a chance to listen to any of the judge’s tapes yet which we will probably do on Tuesday. That will bring more insight into where we really need to work at for next weekend when we go to Ankeny.

Thursday Night Football Game

Sadly enough there was no football game on Friday night at Kingston. There was one on Thursday night but those are never as good because there is always the stress of having to go home to a pile of homework. I played with marching band at the Thursday night game and it wasn’t actually too bad. It’s kind of nice to watch the football games when we actually win. I can’t even remember who we played but I know we beat them. I was a little late getting to the game because I had a cross country meet in IC beforehand so I missed pregame. For pregame the marching band just goes out and plays the Star-Spangled Banner followed by the Fight Song so I didn’t miss much there. It was a pretty cold night but nothing compared to the temperatures that it would be over the weekend. Finally halftime came and we marched our show. Football games are basically just good times for us to run through our shows and practice for our competitions. We put everything we had on the field so our director would know where we were at and what needed to be worked on and cleaned up for the upcoming competition. When we were done our directors gave us feedback on how our performance went and what we needed to work on for the next show. They thought it was overall pretty good, but that we needed to work on little things, like having more confidence in everything you do on the field. I thought it went pretty good despite the cold temperature. When it gets really cold out, it makes it more difficult to play because not only do are your fingers and mouth frozen but the instruments get really out of tune. Occasionally keys will also stick or freeze which is not good either. After our show I was pretty much dreading pep band. I had a ton of homework to get done and on top of that I was really cold. Due to this, I was extremely excited when our director told us we could go home for the night and just forget about pep band. She didn’t want any of us to get sick because the following Saturday we had a big competition at Valley and it would not have been good if half of our band was out sick. So all in all, it ended up being a good night.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bull Fighting in Spain Part Two

Recently Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the Olympics in 2016. The four original candidates included: Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro. Chicago was eliminated first and followed by Tokyo. Then it was between Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. My first chose was obviously Chicago simply because it is practically down the street from where we live. My second chose was Madrid because I absolutely love the country of Spain and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to go back to Spain. Unfortunately, Rio de Janeiro came out victorious, probably because South America has never hosted the Olympics before. I was disappointed when I found out but I guess it won’t be the last Olympics so the United States and Spain still have another shot.

Earlier in my blog writing I talked briefly about my experience with bull fighting in Spain. Even though I thought it was cruel, it is still nonetheless a crucial part of their culture that must be learned about. The first bull fight ever recorded in Spain was during the crowning of King Alfonso VIII. It has become so popular in the country since then, that every year over one million people go to watch bull fights. To start a bull fight, one bull is let into the ring where it is met by an assistant of the matador (the chief bull fighter). The assistant will wave a brightly colored cap in front of the bull to make it charge. This helps the matador determine what type of a bull it is going to be, because many bulls have different personalities. If the bull is determined to be unaggressive during this section they will remove him from the ring and attempt a new bull. Nonaggressive bulls will not put up a good fight and the crowd will not be happy with this. One more thing I need to mention before I move any further is that before the bull enters the bull fighting ring, he has never seen a human walking on two feet. These bulls are raised far out from civilization and are trained by a man riding on a horse to be highly aggressive. When they are young, they are tested to see if they have the potential to be aggressive bulls, if not, they are killed right then and there. The fact that this is the first time a bull has ever seen a human walking on two feet and for that matter a crowd of humans puts him out of his element.

After this a picador on a horse will go and stick a spear into the neck of the bull. This is where the crucial muscles for a bull are, making him very angry. Next the matador, which is the most skilled bull fighter, will come onto the arena. This is the most anticipated part of the show because the bull fighter will show his strength and courage. He will run around the bull making him angry while placing several spears in the bulls back. The more dangerous the stunt the matador performs, the more the crowd will cheer. This is very dangerous because one wrong move and the bull fighter could be impaled with the horns of the bull. In Spain, Matadors are celebrities, the more accomplished they become and the higher up in the rankings of celebrity status they go. After the matador has shown his courage, he will prepare to kill the bull by fatally stabbing it through the heart. This is a difficult task to complete because often times the matador will hit bone and if the matador is successful on the first try he is usually awarded. At this point, the crowd begins to feel sorry for the bull and wants it to die as quickly as possible. If the crowd is pleased with the bull fight, they will waive their handkerchiefs in the air. The president of the bull fighting ring, present at every bull fight, will determine whether the bull fighter will receive one ear, two ears, the tail, or the hoof of the bull. Most often times the bull fighter will receive nothing because these awards are very difficult to receive. At the bull fight I went to there were a total of 6 bulls killed and although the bull fighters were good, none of them received any part of the bulls.

IC Cross Country Meet

At the same time that other school activities seem to be wrapping up, cross country is as well. Even though it is getting to the end for most activities the amount of stress, effort, and time that is put into these events is only increasing. As our marching band director says, we can see the finish line, and in a race when you see the finish line instead of stopping, you push harder than you ever have before. I run cross country and I only have 2 meets left. On one hand I was sad that marching band was coming to an end, but I am not really disappointed that cross country is coming to an end because I don’t find it as fun. I don’t remember exactly where our last two meets are but I know that one of them is in IC, which I am partially excited for because I know the course really well. When I go into a race knowing a course it is much less stressful and more enjoyable because the worry about getting lost or coming across an unexpected hill isn’t there, you know everything you possibly can about the course.

This past week we had a cross country meet at IC and it went pretty well. I don’t know how we placed but I did knock some time off my running so I was happy. Since it seems to be a good course, hopefully when I run there again this season I will be able to knock some more time off of my run. Even though I only have 2 meets left, the varsity girls have at least 3 meets left. Next week is a regular meet and the meet after that is the divisional meet, which the whole team runs in also. That race will be the end of my season, but the varsity girls will run at districts the next week. If they are able to place in the top 3 at districts, which we of course are all hoping for, then they will get to run in the state meet. My freshmen year our team did really good and managed to get 3rd place which qualified them for the big state meet. Unfortunately, last year we didn’t qualify but hopefully that won’t happen again. Part of our chances of qualifying will be determined when we find out what teams we run against at districts. This being said, I think we have really good chances of qualifying for state due to our strong varsity team this year.

Kingston Five Seasons Marching Band Competition

It’s hard to believe that already it is midterm. One minute it is the first day of my junior year and the next minute I’m halfway through the first term of my junior year. They always say it goes by fast but those nights I’m cramming for tests or just trying to finish a lab report it seems that my high school career is never ending. I was recently looking at my schedule for marching band and realized that after this weekend we only had 3 competitions left! Sadly, I soon realized that the fun of marching band couldn’t last forever. Granted, I still have next year but that is far off.

This weekend we had a competition at Kingston stadium. It was hosted by the CR Community School District which means that we were scored but didn’t get a placing, in other words we were exhibition. Nevertheless, we were still excited for our performance. It wouldn’t be the most important performance, but it still did carry some weight because we performed right after the Jefferson Band and right before the Washington Band. These are two of our biggest competitors not only in marching band but in just about every other sport. Unfortunately, some people in band don’t take it as serious simply because we aren’t being judged but most of us knew we needed to do well. We don’t know our scoring until Monday when we get back to school but I think we did okay.

Before we competed at the competition we had to march out onto the field with the little middle school students. Every year before this competition starts Jefferson, Washington, and Kennedy march onto the field with middle school students from the CR Community School District and we play the Star Spangled Banner, America, and another fun song that the band directors select. It is usually pretty funny because the middle school students have never done any kind of marching in their lives and some of them find it difficult to simply walk on the field when directed, put their horns up when directed and play their music correctly when directed. This exercise is simple for us because we are used to practically running around the field in step while playing music a lot more difficult. We usually rehearse it a few times before the actual performance, just to make sure that everyone will stay together as we play it. Of course, it proceeded to rain as we were practicing and even harder later when we were performing it. It had been pretty cold out all day but the rain was just icing on top of the cake. It was worse for the middle school students though because we were suited in our full uniforms and they just had t-shirts and jeans. Luckily the rain didn’t stop the rest of the competition from going off without a hitch.