26 December 2009

Road to College: Sophomore Year!

This year was quite a bit more interesting. I started out with a close group of friends, who were in a lot of my classes, a stronger skill set, and a better understanding of how BCA works. Also, I attended Math Team every week. Life was more exciting, even though I still didn't indulge in time-wasting activities.

Perhaps the boringest activity that I did first trimester was Computer Science Club. I signed up for this club again (instead of some other clubs) because I had ``learned'' some C++ and image creation last year. However, the guest lecturer no longer came every week and all the pro people left, so it was just Dr. Nevard, Mrs. Anderson (super incompetent teacher), some froshies who were interested in ``writing computer games,'' and me. As the eldest member of the club, I was appointed president. So every Wednesday I taught them Javascript, but they just weren't interested in learning the basics.

By the time I gave up on lecturing them, second trimester had rolled by, and more computer-oriented people enrolled. However, the incompetent teacher insisted that we do independent training for FBLA and DECA, in which I wasn't involved. Sensing my boredom and urge to improve, Dr. Nevard recommended that I do the USACO. I was intimidated by the word ``olympiad'', so I tried to put it off as much as possible.

In January I decided to stop being incompetent and tried USACO! It turns out that bronze wasn't very difficult, but I made some careless mistakes and got a 556. Nevard was satisfied with the score, but said that a 1000 is within reach. I did better in the next contest (I got a 880) and was promoted! Nevard was happy. However, I was slaughtered in the March contest, not having learned any algorithms or practicing any ad-hoc problems (I had only completed maybe two training problems by that time). I got a 52 from hard-coding the first ten DP cases in the ``River Crossing'' problem. Not wanting to face failure again, I subsequently chickened out of the US Open.

In addition to USACO, I did ACSL. It was trivial compared to USACO, but the most of the theory part was new to me. Regardless, Pavel, Kamran, and I did well enough to qualify for the ACSL All Stars competition. Unfortunately, the school ``did not have the resources'' to fund our field trip so I just improved the entire thing XD My parents volunteered to drive us down to Maryland, where we stayed in this 3-star hotel with free WiFi! Then we competed the next day and did really well for first timers. We finished 4th in our division and Kamran and I got books from the individual event. Then we played Smash 64 on the way home.

Besides computer science, there was math! Even though 2007-2008 wasn't such a great year for the math team, we still had some epic trips. HMMT was the most epic trip of all. Because it snowed so hard that the administration and the bus company canceled the trip and Mr. Holbrook still insisted that we go, half of us took Chinatown buses (Fenghua bus company FTW) and the other half took cars. My car ride was pretty rough. The terrible road conditions slowed us down considerably. The competition itself wasn't very exciting. Mu A barely made sweepstakes (PEA wasn't allowed a second team in sweeps).

NYSML was also an important trip for me. We had lots of time to spare because it was an overnight trip ^_^ So on Friday night, Pavel and Sam decided to teach me bridge! I grasped the basics pretty quickly, but had no clue of any strategies (in essence I was throwing down random cards while still following the rules). Anyway, I kept playing for the hell of it and actually became competent =]

In the non-competition world, things went well. Classes seemed more lively than last year's. In particular, Analytical Calculus (BC+) was amazing. Since the class was held in the tractor trailers, we had unlimited access to the track >:D (will elaborate on that later). Anyway, since Dr. Abe loves chocolate, he made us bring in brownies on our birthdays!! However, brownies are incomplete without milk. So for our first party, we designated Kamran to bring in half a gallon of milk. But because he is Kamran, he forgot. Dr. Abe made him run around the track for punishment, while we jeered from inside the classroom. He took everyone onto the track on another day when we had nothing to do. What a wintastic class...

There was also ``that incident'' that happened late March this year. Because our sysadmins are so incompetent to the level that they drop the root password on the floor without noticing, one of the ``pro'' seniors took advantage of that and wrote a virus that spread via USB. Pavel, Kamran, and I noticed some weird files (a visual basic script, a Seniors '08 image, an executable, and a batch file) on our flash drives weeks before it was fired, and we reported it to the tech teachers. They tried to warn the sysadmins to change the root password, but somehow that didn't get through (idiot sysadmins -.-). So we helplessly watched as time went on as more computers had the virus installed by innocent students' USB drives.

Finally the cracker activated the virus. We were listening to Dr. Abe lecture us when the computers decided to play some Rhapsody. Alarmed by the sound, Dr. Abe walks to the back of the room and turns on the screen. We all see the ``Seniors '08'' image and the computer nerds instantly knew what was going on while everyone was laughing their butts off. Dr. Abe then force shut down the computer and continued teaching.

Now all the technology teachers were super pissed off. The day after the virus went off, some tech teachers found Kamran, Pavel, Sam, and I hanging out in the hallways and decided to question us. We all say that we weren't involved, but they didn't believe us. They even threatened to suspend us O_O Then they proceeded to eke as much information out of us. We told them as much as we could, but they still took our words with a truckload of salt. Frustrated, they went away. Man that was pretty nervewracking >_<

Not long did they find the perpetrator. He was basically banned from school and told ``not to come back.'' So he didn't.

And that was that.

Overall the year was quite nice. My GPA was higher than that of the year before, which my parents were really happy about. My PSAT score was ehhish, but they were ok with that too XD I was also pretty happy that my skillz got better and acquired a new hobby :)


  1. lol i remember tj didn't go to hmmt 2008 because of that snow xD

    oh, and you ought to write about sophomore year summer :O

  2. Man you and Jenny both try so hard to avoid good things (you: USACO, her: TJ) and then fail and love it XD. Why do I *cough*associate*cough* with you people?

  3. i spent all of freshman year avoiding math team too, actually xD