Archive for the ‘Math Team’ Category

The COD has spoken

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

The yearly ICTM Regional Math Competition is upon us again; at the large and very labyrinthine College of Dupage (COD) as usual.

Andy had no surprises for us. We all know about his laptop and DC/AC power inverter and wireless access point and internet capability in IL-53’s left lane. I got to pick the tunes this time. I usually don’t since my trusty but scruffy HP nc6000 has had battery sensor troubles; my battery voltage graph is a titration curve; it goes from “full” to 0% in a matter of minutes and the projected remaining charge times range from 3 minutes to 41 hours. The OS is just as misinformed as I am, so setting the thing to shut down when battery level is dangerously low is ineffectual. The old girl is getting on in years. I might be replacing her after graduation. Until then, I can just use the bus power from the ciggie lighter. My music is largely a scant couple of gigabytes of Top 40 from the last nine years. It received no complaints from bus riders, save that one song from Cannibal! The Musical.

Every math meet, I lament the loss (or “graduation”) of last year’s seniors, known to Cassidy as “the freaks”. Greta, Sam, Keith, Dan, Kushal. They took me to Champagne with them last year in the Junior-Senior 8-person team. Same goes for Scholastic Bowl. Damn those freaks for leaving.

This day was a damn big deal for all of us. Today’s tests decide if we’re going to Champagne or not. So I was at an emergency math team practice yesterday for two hours. I learned summation notation and standard deviation.

We arrived and had ten minutes to run to the individual tests. I had to drop off all my stuff and only then did I realize that I had worn my Scholastic Bowl shirt. Whoops.

There’s individual, oralist, 2-person freshman/sophomore, 2-person junior/senior, 8-person freshman/sophomore, 8-person junior/senior, calculator team. That’s about it.

I started the individual competition with high hopes. The first page was straightforward except for the last one. I knew how to do ’em, that is. I wasn’t able to do the last half though. I didn’t see a standard deviation or a sum. but I did see a “root mean square”. All I remember about it is when I looked at it in the Precalculus book and thinking it was hard and not learning it. Apparently it’s just, wait for it, the square root of the average of the squares. And there was a bunch of other stuff I messed up just purely for lack of logic. I ended up getting only four or so right with the cutoff at eleven. D’oi. Similarly with the 8-person. We were two problems short of qualification; one if Walthers’ appeal went through.

The years before, I did only individual and 8-person. But today, they put me on calculator team. It’s basically like the 8-person, except with all grade levels represented and the problems almost never have whole numbers. I answered 2 of the twenty, I think. I can see why this test is so hard. It is so easy to mess up parentheses. We got eleven problems right. We qualified for state because the minimum is ten. Meredith also qualified individually. So it’s only the six of us this year.

PS The second half of this post was composed in a Southern accent due to me watching Forrest Gump while writing it.

DJs of the Ice Cream Van

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Sleep deprivation sucks. Only 5 hours of sleep a night since Sunday night. Monday night belonged to Venegoni, and Tuesday night was just weird. I woke up at 4:20 AM soaked in sweat during an apparently terrifying dream. In it, I watched Fox’s Saturday night primetime line-up and therefore became a racist. I was unable to fall back to sleep.

This is how my sleep loss manifests. I’m nice and peppy from breakfast through the first half of Physics. I’m able to do basic math but not synthesize formulas or new ideas. Then at exactly 8:00, I begin to lose interest in pretty much everything. My working memory, better known as RAM, decreases exponentially the more sleep I lose. By third period, I’m fighting unconsciousness off with a stick. Venegoni doesn’t help. PE perks me up again. I’m alert but mellow 5th period. Lunch is completely non productive. Chem is torture if there’s a lecture. Which is why I’m essentially two days behind in Chem. All the concept stuff flies right past me. It doesn’t help that it’s at the end of the day.

Luckily for me, there was a lab Wednesday and I just recorded data. Any activity that has me walking around gives me enough glucose to maintain reasonable alertness. After school, I was moving around so I wasn’t falling-down-sleepy like I would have been in a desk. I’m tempted to ask Venegoni if I can walk around the room for the duration of his lectures.

Fast forward to the individual competition. I had to make an undignified run back to our homeroom to dump a cell phone. The sprint must have got my heart rate up because it stayed up for the rest of the half hour. It was maybe 110 bpm the whole time that I was stuck in the desk so I didn’t drop off at all. Now back to normal time.

After school Wednesday, we had two hours til pizza arrived. We had a Font-making Party. Starting with some papers with lots of boxes on them. We fill in all the characters, they’re scanned and the images turned into a Truetype font. Some of the boxes are for characters that never get used like the Yen symbol ¥ and the British pound £. So instead I put the integral symbol ∫. I need that a lot more than the pound. (I only need to add sub and super scripts to include limits. It’s gonna be awesome!)

So on to the math meet. Of course, Schmitz and I had our laptops, Ethernet cable, no less than 3 wireless routers, a Power Squid and enough power adapters to power them all (save one router). We are quickly becoming known as the “DJs of the Ice Cream Van”. With a simple cassette tape to audio jack adapter, we blare techno, Billy Joel, whatever, through the van’s speakers. Just a short jaunt down to Prospect included two Fall Out Boy songs (which divided the bus between Fall Out Boy fans and vehement FOB haters, also known as girls and boys respectively).

Arrival at Prospect had us setting up a little LAN and finding the room’s audio jack. Soon, Bowling for Soup was playing from the ceiling speakers.

We discussed the concept of the “photo-hostile”, those who desperately avoid having their pictures taken. I’m not one of those people, though I probably should be. Whenever someone takes a picture of me, my face lights up like a glazed ham. That is, when the flash is on, the oil on my face reflects it and I resemble a tin foil mannequin. Fun and self-confidence boosting stuff. That’s why I hate the flash.

For the seniors, this was our last district math meet. The subject was Trigonometric identities. Of my three attempted problems, I got two worth 4 points each and missed one worth 6 points. (My poor algebra led me to get 27 where I should have gotten √6.) Oh well, that was dumb. Especially since we were only two points away from first place. *grumble*