JV Baseball vs. Fay
JV baseball went out at home yesterday against Fay, our rivals. I probably coaxed people away with my awful announcement, but we saw a few guys, especially towards the end of the game. We started off alright, with a one-two-three inning. But we could really hit either that inning. The second inning, they started to rally. By the bottom of the fourth, we found ourselves down 9-1. You may know that JV baseball has a rule that you don't start a new inning after 5:00. It was 4:30, so we knew it would be tough to put together 8 or 9 runs in two innings. I was in the hole this inning (batting third). At the beginning my dad gave me a new bat that I had gotten for my birthday. I was pretty pumped and decided to use it even though I had never before. We managed to get a runner on third by the time I was up by stealing. I tried to be confident at the plate. Their first pitcher was throwing legit curveballs that the ump called every time, but this was a different pitcher. He had a shaky curveball and threw almost as fast. Also, he was taller and a little more intimidating. I took the first pitch for strike one. Back in Little League, I never swung at the first pitch, mostly because I really almost never swung at all, only if it was perfect. Nowadays, I try to swing at anything close, regardless of the situation. The second pitch was an attempted curveball that never really broke, but nonetheless I stood up to it until the last second. I probably should have taken it to my back for a walk, but nobody likes be hit. The third pitch was probably outside, but the ump had been calling outside strikes so I swung, and missed. So, I was down 1-2 in the count. I was determined to get my first hit of the year, so I dug in to protect the plate. He threw a low strike and I hit right back at him. It bounced pretty high, but that was the last I saw because I was breaking at first. I was three steps away when I saw a low throw come in that the first baseman bobbled. I got to the base by the time he picked it up for what was essentially a sacrifice, because the runner on third scored. This started a rally that kept on going until I found myself in the hole again, when the inning finally ended. The score was 9-8 Fay.
Pete McCauley, first-time pitcher, mowed down the batters to get us to the bottom of the fifth. We now knew this was the last inning. I was on deck. Callan took a walk and represented the tying run on base. It was a new pitcher again. He seemed to have trouble throwing strikes against Callan but had no such trouble on me. The first pitch was a ball, but the second two in a row were strikes. I swung at the second one and missed. The fourth pitch in the at bat was a very high inside ball that looked exactly like a curveball. I was expecting it to break, so I started swinging. It didn't break early enough and ended over the plate but what looked like too high. I had stopped my swing in time but the ump called it a strike and I walked back to the bench.
Then things got crazy. Pete walked and both of them stole their way to second and third this brought up lefty Danny "DK Lounge" Kent, one of our best power hitters. I had the feeling that if anybody was going to bomb one today, it would be him. After two balls he looked at strike one. The bench cheered from the side. He swung at a low ball. The next one was a fast pitch right down the middle, and Danny fouled it off right back at the ump. Danny dug in and squared his legs. The pitcher threw another on down the middle. This time, Danny swung hard and beaned it into center-left field. It was over the center fielder's head and he couldn't make the catch. As Pete rounded third and went home uncontested we stormed Danny at first. We had won 10-9 on Danny's walk-off. It was incredibly exciting. I couldn't ask for a better game to play on my birthday.
As a little kid, I always thought of spring as the best season. And it has a lot of things going for it. Baseball, public school vacation, holidays like Easter and Passover, and generally the start of warm weather. But for me, my birthday was always the primal event of the month. I have been very lucky to have celebrated my birthday in many exotic places due to the public school vacation that is usually going on during my birthday (Disney World twice, France, U.S. Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman), and my birthday has been on Easter twice (when I was three and eight). And, obviously, I have gotten quite a few presents over the years. My most recent birthday was highlighted by a full-size Yogibo, and I have gotten many other things. The one aspect of birthdays that I never really enjoyed was a 'birthday party'. Because of my birthday being over vacation, most people were away, so I always had to wait a week or more. And even after that, it usually didn't happen. My most recent was in fifth grade, where I went to 'Pizza Putt' which was basically an arcade with mini golf. Before that was second grade, and that is the last I specifically remember. Now, you might be thinking that I sound like a bit of a brat after the above sentences, but what really peeved me was the fact that, due to their summer birthdays, my siblings got birthday parties EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Sleepovers, pool parties, pretty much any party that was doable. What I didn't realize as a little kid was that my birthday was actually pretty great, because it was often in the Caribbean or overseas. Now I have realized this. But one thing that still makes the scale uneven: while my siblings tagged along to Disney World and the sandy white beaches of the islands, I never got to participate in their parties. Therefore they were the lucky ones. So I will end with this: Mom, Dad, I hope you feel awful on the inside for your depressed son who didn't get a birthday party every year, and sure as hell better get one this year.
Winter is gone!
All of us can agree that this year has been a crazy one when it comes to weather. Now, it seems as if the snowing and horrible cold are gone until next November. While I do love winter and snow, in Massachusetts it is a little different than in Vermont. First off, in VT if it snowed a foot or more and wasn't above freezing it was worth getting suited up and grabbing a sled as soon as you woke up because you could always call the school and say your driveway was snowed over. Here, you don't hear about snow days till either late the night before or literally that morning, and all the roads are paved so unless you have a very long driveway and decide not to pave it, you have no excuses. Either way, nobody really has a good sledding hill in their backyard. In relativity this might not be true but considering my house in Vermont has a hill almost as big as the hill at Nashawtuc in the back, I am surely spoiled.
Secondly, Vermont has top-par ski resorts like an hour away as opposed to here where you have a few puny mountains within an hour and it's surplus four up to VT. I have never been a racing skier, and neither have my siblings, so we never had a strictly scheduled time to arrive at the mountain. My brother and I were in a ski group, but it was fine if we showed up at noon or later. In MA, many people make the trek north on Friday night, ski all of Saturday, and maybe ski till noon on Sunday before driving back down. While I would totally do this (since we've moved our family really only goes to Vermont on long weekends and vacations), I can imagine how exhausting it would be. Plus, I don't immediately notice any time put aside for homework on this schedule.
You might think that I am basically saying that Vermont is a thousand times better then Massachusetts. But really, the war is against snow in April and disgusting piles of frozen slush in parking lots until May. So you have to agree with me: the warm months have arrived, and no one's stopping them.
During the first few books, the reader mostly hears about Odysseus's son Telemachus and his plans of finding his lost father. Pretty much everybody in Ithaca (his homeland where he was king) thinks Odysseus died shortly after leaving to fight in the Trojan War years ago. But his wife Penelope keeps a seed of hope that he will one day return while dealing with a bunch of young men called suitors who seek to marry her in order to gain political power and riches. They are basically living in the royal palace eating Odysseus's livestock and drinking wine all day. I thought this sounded a little ridiculous, but it makes sense that men would want to wed the queen.
When we first hear about Odysseus's whereabouts, he is trapped on a faraway island with the immortal nymph Calypso, who loves him and keeps him in her cave and forces him to sleep with her at night. Unlike pretty much any other mortal, Odysseus can resist her powers of seduction and cries all day begging her to let him go. He has been there for years. The willpower that Odysseus possesses is incredible and the fact that he lasted seven years before she finally decided to let him go.
While he is in perfect health when he is freed, Calypso sends him away on a raft he made himself from trees on the island. She sends him with a good wind backing him up but there is no promise of safety. He does have plenty of food, though.
After days of sailing on the open sea, he finally sights land, which turns out to be the island of Scheria, home to the Phaecians. He is close when Poseidon, who does not like him, wrecks his raft. He only avoids drowning when a sea goddess gives him a scarf that makes him invincible. As he was instructed, when he reaches land he throws it back into the sea.
He walks inland a bit and meets some young girls who are part of the Phaecian royal family. They help lead him to the palace to meet the king. In a classic display of Xenia, Odysseus is graciously welcomed and receives a feast. He enjoys a day of games and contests with the natives.
In the next few books, Odysseus tells the story of his adventures to the Phaecians. It is a little confusing because he starts the story at the very beginning of his long journey. This starting point is when Odysseus and his men raid the Cicones.
Shortly thereafter they sail to an island where everybody eats lotus flowers. The people seem very happy and can't stop asking the Achaean men to try the lotus. Odysseus recognizes at the last moment that once one has tried the lotus they can never leave the island, so he leaves with almost all his crew (a couple fell victim to the flowers).
The next island they stop at is the island of the 'high and mighty cyclopes'. Unfortunately, Odysseus and his crew do not know this and decide to cook some of the sheep roaming around. The cyclops Polyphemus catches them and traps them in his cave. Used to Xenia, the Achaeans try to barter with the monster by offering gifts. He denies. Shortly after stating that he is hungry, the beast devours two men before Odysseus offers him wine that he thought to bring. Polyphemus accepts it and asks what Odysseus's name is. Remembering that he plans to kill the giant and doesn't want to draw attention from Poseidon (all cyclopes' father), he cleverly states that his name is 'nobody'. With that, the monster drinks the wine and falls asleep drunken.
Shortly thereafter Odysseus and his men procure a long stick of which the widdle the end to make it very sharp. As soon as they are done, Odysseus and his men all help lift the stick and stab Polyphemus clean through his eye.
He wakes up screaming and goes to the mouth of the cave to move the giant stone covering it he stands in front of the entrance. All his sheep are in the cave, and because they want to get out, they start running in between the Cyclops's legs. A few of Odysseus's men escape this way, but Polyphemus notices and starts feeling the things that pass through his legs. Odysseus and a few men are still in there, so Odysseus thinks up a clever plan. He grabs a sheep and holds on to the underside of it. As it runs through the monster's legs, he only feels wool. Thus Odysseus escapes.
But not all the men made it. Quite a few died, including a flute player who was playing gentle music throughout the event to try and calm the monster. Odysseus and his men mourn their loss. As they are leaving, the cyclops starts screaming to his father Poseidon that "Nobody blinded me!" Odysseus is marveling at his cunning but his pride gets the best of him and he can't help yelling to the monster as the ship sails away, "Odysseus blinded you, Polyphemus! Odysseus!"
They stop at a nearby island where Odysseus meets the seemingly nice wind god Aoilos. He tells Odysseus he will send a wind that will bring his ship back to Ithaca and gives him a container that he says not to open until he arrives home. Odysseus is ecstatic and tells his men the news. The start off immediately and Odysseus's men are curious about the container. He tells them that it cannot be opened until they reach home. After this exhausted Odysseus settles down to sleep.
After sailing for days, one of the crew sights land. After a closer look, it is seen to be Ithaca! They are about to wake Odysseus when one of his crew tells them to wait, so they can open the container. A few protest but it is his second in command, so they cannot sway him. There is a great struggle in opening it, but eventually, they finally get it open. It turns out it literally contains insanely powerful amounts of wind, and as soon as it opens, they spew out at extreme speed. The man who opened it shot sky high an the container starts spinning out of control. It essentially causes a mini hurricane and the ship wrecks, half its crew dead, mere yards off of Ithaca.
After this tantalizing failure, Odysseus has both lost trust in many of his men, and literally lost many of his men. The remainder of his ship and men find land on a seemingly normal island, which Odysseus orders his men to scout the inland. None return so Odysseus is left with only his commander-in-chief.
Life teachings at Fenn
“Certain things in life simply have to be experienced -and never explained."
Nowadays, almost every person is fortunate enough to enjoy a middle school education. I personally have been lucky enough to receive two years of excellent education from the Fenn School, a private boy's school in Concord, MA. As I student there I have not only academically grown but have also made many friends and helped shape the Fenn community. School is not necessarily a place saved only for academic learning, but also can teach you lessons about life. Because really, everyone could use a helping hand here and there, especially when trying to navigate the difficulties of middle school.
When I began my time at Fenn in seventh grade, I had no idea what to expect. I was coming from a coed K-8 public school in rural Vermont where I knew pretty much every single person at the school. Now, I found myself at a school of the same size, but all boys and grades four through nine. Not to mention I was one of only two new kids, and the classes were going to be a lot harder. As you can probably tell, I was a bit nervous!
But immediately after I stepped on the campus, I felt both welcomed and included in the web of young men. Kids there didn't treat me like an outsider, they treated me in the same way that they treated everyone else. This sense of inclusivity is what made me feel comfortable at Fenn and helped ease me in to the roller coaster ride of an education I have had here.
But the real thing that I believe sets Fenn apart from other schools is the way that it helps prepare its students for life after graduation. Lessons are not simply told to you, but implanted through a long line of events. There is no textbook on the market that can teach you in this way.
And that is why middle school should exist, on my opinion. In reality, you probably won't need to remember who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 or how to calculate the angle of the sun striking the earth at 66.5 degrees north on the summer solstice, but in order to get by after school is over, there are certain things you need to know that are best taught in the environment provided by middle schools. By the way, I am not trying to somehow endorse middle school, but sometimes it can be good to be optimistic and see the bright side of this situation.
Do electronic voting machines make the process of voting easier?
Opinion: being someone who has never voted on such a device, I cannot say for myself whether the process of voting is easier on an electronic machine. But I liken it a little to things like the Climate Survey at Fenn versus something similar on paper, and I do think the computerized version is easier to work with.
One con of course is that such a machine might be hacked or in some way infringed which could completely kill any chance of using them again if it was discovered. I'm sure the legit machines are very well protected though.
Lastly, it has to be mentioned that the paper voting does kill trees. Even though this doesn't make it easier or harder to vote it should be considered.
The facts: In the coming elections 70% of voters will be using paper, after a national trial resulted in only six states being "very satisfied" with the electronic machines (two of them in New England). And while 24 states were "generally satisfied" with the machines, nearly half still chose to make the switch to paper when the federal government gave them the choice. The reason this is true is because the past two years elections have been disastrous in certain instances. In a 2004 election in North Carolina, more than 4,400 votes were lost after memory cards filled up. When the election for the state's agricultural commissioner ended with a 2,300 margin, controversy sparked.
Also, three different instances from three different sites were reported where votes for presidential candidate Mitt Romney were recorded instead as votes for Barack Obama.
18 states are using an all-paper approach with a writing utensil. 10 will give voters the choice between paper and electronic, where a voter using the electronic machine will receive a verification slip, and 6 will do the same without the slips.
Sources: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/11/01/why-are-some-states-dumping-their-electronic-voting-machines-and-going-back-to-paper/; https://www.verifiedvoting.org; http://votingmachines.procon.org
Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments! I am not really sure where I lie.
Another night deprived of slumber,
Hours passing without number,
My eyes trace 'round the room. I lay
Dripping sweat and now quite certain
That tonight the final curtain
Drops upon my short life's precious play.
From the darkness, by the closet
Comes a noise, much like a faucet
Makes: a madd'ning drip-drip-dripping sound.
It seems some ill-proportioned beast,
Anticipating me deceased,
Is drooling poison puddles on the ground.
A can of Mace, a forty-five,
Is all I'd need to stay alive,
But no weapon lies within my sight.
Oh my gosh! A shadow's creeping,
Omnious and black, it's seeping
Slowly 'cross a moonlit square of light!
Suddenly a floorboard creak
Announces the bloodsucking freak
Is here to steal my future years away!
A sulf'rous smell now fills the room
Heralding my imm'nent doom!
A fang gleams in the dark and murky gray!
Oh, blood-red eyes and tentacles!
Throbbing, pulsing ventricles!
Mucus-oozing pores and frightful claws!
Worse, in terms of outright scariness,
Are the suckers multifarious
That grab and force you in its mighty jaws!
This disgusting aberration
Of nature needs no motivation
To devour helpless children in their beds.
Relishing despairing moans,
It chews kids up and sucks their bones,
And dissolves inside its mouth their li'l heads!
I know this 'cause I read it not
Two hours ago, and then I got
The heebie-jeebies and these awful shakes.
My parents swore upon their honor
That I was safe, and not a goner.
I guess tomorrow they'll see their sad mistakes.
In the morning, they'll come in
And say, "What was that awful din
We heard last night? You kept us both from sleep!"
Only then will they surmise
The gruesomeness of my demise
And see that my remains are in a heap.
Dad will look at Mom and say,
"Too bad he had to go that way."
And Mom will look at Dad, and nod assent.
Mom will add, "Still, it's fitting,
That as he was this world quitting,
He should leave another mess before he went."
They may not mind at first, I know.
They will miss me later, though,
And perhaps admit that they were wrong.
As memories of me grow dim,
They'll say, "We were too strict with him.
We should have listened to him all along."
As speedily my end approaches,
I bid a final "buenas noches"
To my best friend here in all the world.
Gently snoring, whiskers seeming
To sniff at smells (he must be dreaming),
He lies snuggled in the blankets, curled.
HEY! WAKE UP, YOU STUPID CRETIN!
YOU GONNA SLEEP WHILE I GET EATEN?!
(Suddenly the monster knows I'm not alone!)
There's an animal in bed with me!
An awful beast he did not see!
The monster never would've come if he had known!
The monster, in his consternation,
And runs and runs and runs and runs away.
Rid of the pest,
I now can rest,
Thanks to my best friend, who saved the day.
I have always been a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes, and I have read the original version which includes vivid and often hilarious drawings. I have always admired Bill Watterson's creative poetry skills. His poems always are intriguing and interesting--this one included. I like this piece also because I will have the opportunity to pour a lot of emotion into the words, something that I enjoy doing.
Helper/ Amulet Essay
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.
The cheap plastic table felt cold under my hands. The black microphone was passed down the line of kids till it found its way to my clammy hands. Trembling, I listened to the question. My mind raced as I shifted in my seat. I decided on a answer and through up the Hail Mary. Seconds later I was almost crying as I walked to the bleachers.
Waiting for me with a spot reserved was my best friend. He gave me a pat on the back and whispered "Nobody knows about pilgrim migration in Hungary" as I sunk in my chair. I was officially eliminated from the 2010 National Geographic Bee, with a fourth place finish at the school level.
Even though it was my first year participating as a fourth grader, I was devastated. After answering every question right in the preliminary rounds, I had botched it. I couldn't watch as the medal was presented to that year's winner.
I surely would've broken down if it hadn't been for Evan. He had helped me study throughout the competition and was there for me at every step. He had made big "Go Erik!" posters to hold up from the bleachers. He was the ultimate supporter.
The best part? He had always been with me at every step. He had always been the ultimate supporter. He was always nice to me even when my temper broke. He never tooted his own horn. I had always admired Evan's humility.
Evan always put others first. Even though he was probably the best player on his soccer team and could've easily scored a lot of goals, he instead lead the team in assists. He skipped a soccer tournament to support me at the 2011 state Geography Bee competition. He never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings, and when he did upon accident he immediately apologized with genuine sympathy.
He also never felt sorry for himself. He had a very bad peanut allergy, to the point where peanut oil in the air could make him erupt in hives. He was very undersized for his age. His teeth grew in at extremely odd angles and he required braces for over three and a half years. But he never complained. He dedicated himself to helping others, and was always happy.
The attitude he carried is something that will always amaze me. When we first met in kindergarten I had no idea he'd become such a close friend to me. I never really thought about what a great guy he was until recently. His friendliness towards me and everybody around him is the reason that I have the least bit of compassionate and humble qualities today.
Anybody will be cheered up by a constantly good-natured and nice friend who confronts them. Having Evan as a best friend meant that I had no truly bad days; with Evan around it was impossible. I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful friend for seven years.
Night. Though the moon was full, it gave off no light due to the thick covering of clouds. Pebbles crunched underfoot as I stumbled blindly through the thick forest. The sounds of rushing water filled the still air around me--I was getting near the stream. Only a quarter mile left of walking alone in the dark, back to the lean-to with my fellow campers who had just done the same thing as me. I had been dreading the experience since I first learned of it, but now that it was nearly finished, I realized that the call to adventure was built into my system, and I could do it.
The "Senior Night Experience" is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Anybody who has participated in it before keeps to themselves about it, so all one can really assume is that it is at night and is an experience.
I had attended Camp Dudley for the past three summers. Going into my Senior year, I felt like I would have my best summer yet. And it didn't disappoint. But near the end of the summer this mysterious night adventure awaited. I was nervous, but I didn't know what to expect. It was a lot different than anyone could've guessed.
We were sent deep into the woods near Stacy Brook at around 7:00. It would get dark soon. Along with our cabin's leadership, we were joined by legendary Navy S.E.A.L and tough guy Marlon Fisher. He gave us a handful of trail mix and gave us the lowdown on what we would be doing. He told us as soon as it was completely dark he would set off into the woods. He had done so many times and knew the way by heart. He would find his way back to the campsite, placing two red LED markers along the way: one on a big, dangerous rock and another on a turn in the path. After fifteen minutes had passed the cabin leaders would send the first camper into the woods. After all of us had gone in moderation, the leaders would follow. He then proceeded to hand us each a small whistle: if we had fallen and hurt ourselves or were dreadfully lost, we were to blow into these. Then he told us the order and set off.
I was third. My turn came way to fast. As soon as it did, I tried to set a good pace. I sang "You'll Never Walk Alone", one of my favorite hymns, to myself. I hadn't tripped yet when I started feeling plants crunch underfoot: I was off the trail. I immediately stopped still--the dark world swirled in my eyes and I bent down and shut them for a second. I stood up and looked behind me. There, in the distance, I saw a minuscule red light. Relief rushed through me as I carefully made my way through the foliage to the checkpoint. I had majorly overshot the turn.
The rest of the walk up to the rock went perfectly. As soon as I saw the final marker, I knew that I was close. The stream was very loud by then; I could feel the mist in the air. I took the rockier path all the way back to the lean-to where I reconvened--I couldn't believe I had just done it.
Thinks no back on it, I feel like I was needlessly scared. Nonetheless, fear is probably what pushed me to complete the walk so fast. My time was the fifth fastest of the year--and the fastest of anyone in my cabin. Not that I was trying to complete it quickly; I almost wanted it to last longer. It surely lived up to its name as an experience.
Even now that it is over, I am still not completely clear on what went on during the experience--simply because I couldn't see! That's part of what makes it great: sometimes everybody needs to close their eyes and let their fears lead them home.
"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."
"The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today."
Everyone has to do something boring but essential once in a while. For me, doing my applications felt like a torture exercise, and it was extremely difficult to try and be productive and have the least bit of fun. But I knew, in the far reaches of my mind, that if I didn't get them done soon I would be forced to rush to get them done on time. Obviously, there are many different situations where one is faced with must-do activities that feel like a nightmare, but the necessity of doing them is what eventually pushes perseverant people through.
There are many private high schools in the Boston area where I live. As I have now learned, it would be impossible to apply to them all. I am applying to four schools and I thought I had it pretty easy. Boy, I was wrong! Each application is like three nights' worth of homework, so essentially the only time you have to get any real work done is on the weekends. But for some reason my normally pretty consistent work ethic disappears as soon as school ends on Friday, and I normally don't do homework until Sunday night. This procrastination means that all the application work, with the exception of one Saturday which I will be talking about in the following paragraph, has been done on Tuesday afternoons.
The ridiculous thing is that I had been out of school for two weeks. I don't think I thought the least bit about academic things all vacation. I subconsciously knew that I had a little more than a couple weeks to get my applications done, but I never considered doing them. For the final week of the holiday break, my family took a vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. We had a nice little villa on the beach and things couldn't have been better, especially considering that we hadn't been on vacation in more than two years. Our flight was to leave on Sunday in the morning, so we planned to do most of our packing on Saturday. This meant we had nothing planned except hanging out at the beach. After a few hours, I decided to just relax for the rest of the day. It was then that I suddenly remembered the applications. I was filled with a sort of guilt because I knew doing them would be a great idea, but the prospect of sitting on a computer typing out long responses to dumb questions didn't sound appealing. But nonetheless, I made the decision to get some stuff done.
In the end, it was worth it, but I was constantly questioning myself what I was doing working when I could be chilling on a beach under the beautiful blue Mexican sky. But overall, getting this done meant not only less work in the future, but a better ability at stomping my procrastination habits. This instance showed me that perseverance can conquer anything and everything.
Sorry for the cheesy title.
Which is the best month?
It is not like people really argue about what the best month is. If you ask a little kid he will probably say the month that his birthday is in. And obviously there are certain events that don't have a month that they always happen in (i.e. parties, certain holidays, etc.), so one year November might be a great month because you went to three birthday parties and had thanksgiving just like every other year, but one time you might hate November because your dog died, your wallet was stolen, and the gravy at thanksgiving was actually from last year and you got food poisoning. So it's pretty hard to talk about your favorite month without considering personal things that happened in past occurrences of a particular month. It is also difficult to say which month is best without considering one's religious beliefs, as this shakes things up even though December and April both tend to have holidays from many religions. But nonetheless, here are my ideas on the months.
My birthday is in April. When I was younger Easter was always a fun holiday for me, as we would always go Easter egg hunting. Plus most schools have a spring vacation in April. This gives a lot of props to the sunny spring month that definitely make it a contender.
December, of course, is a month that immediately pops up in most people's mind. Almost half the month is taken up by vacation and many religions have holidays in this month somewhere. For me, Christmas continues to be my favorite holiday and is always a time where I get to see relatives who I only see once or twice a year otherwise. On top of that, in places outside the "temperate" zones you start to get snow and the long break is usually filled with sledding and sometimes skiing/snowboarding. It segways I to the new year really well.
You could make an argument for any summer month but out of all of them July stands out to me. Unlike June which most kids end up taking exams in or August where you always try and cram a bunch of things in before going to school again, June is smushed between two summer months and generally has no boring organized things besides maybe a dentist or doctors appointment. For me it is special because not only do my brother, sister, and mother share birthdays in this month, I attend a three-and-a-half week sleep away camp during this time which is always one of the highlights of my year. When you throw the Fourth of July into the mix it starts to make thinks almost unfair.
February may be shorter than all the others, but it still amounts to a good lot! Just as in April you have a vacation that literally takes up almost the entire month. Even if you don't travel anywhere it's a break from school and there is lots of time to do all the nothing you've been wanting to do for so long. Also, being a person who enjoys theater and acting in plays, the final performances of a lot of productions end up taking place in the first week up February before vacation takes over. There have been years where I have literally gone straight from the epic cast party to the airport on my way to some relaxing place with palm trees. My dad also has a birthday in this month, and Valentine's Day takes place on the fourteenth.
If Halloween was a day later November would probably be at the top of my list. Besides having Thanksgiving which gives you not only a ton of delicious food and fun with relatives from a zillion miles away but also gives almost a week-long break from school. For me it is when the basketball season starts and the football season ends. This way a get a little bit of my two favorite sports rolled into one. But that first day of November slightly kills the vibe as you'll be sure to spend it with a sick stomach and too much time in the restroom.
The last month I will talk about is June. I know I already talked about exams but the end up the school year also brings good things. Class trips and end-of-the-year events, graduation parties and moving parties (so bittersweet regardless of who is.moving, because if you like them the party is epic but the fact that they're moving stinks; if you hate them then the party feels weird but the fact that they are moving is Hallelujah with a capital H) and the fact that summer is so close you can almost taste the mint chip ice cream dripping on your cargo shorts, they all make June a fun-filled, if a bit weary began, month.
I won't state my personal favorite as I am somewhat undecided, but I hope the ones I talked about where relevant and you agreed. Maybe you are completely committed to a month I didn't talk about at all and I am sure you have completely just reasons. But re-read my big fat paragraph at the start. I can't exactly speak for everybody.
The Three-Ingredient Personality Test!
This should come out to be a very interesting blog entry. Here's the deal: You get to build a pizza (maybe it's gluten free) with three ingredients. There is a choice of nine, and they each have a number. After you have chosen, look below and find the numbers that you chose. This should flawlessly tell what kind of person you are (maybe)!
By the way, none of the personality traits that I may define you by are mean in any way. And just to make sure, I have to say that if I define you as a "tenacious" person and you are actually very calm and not tenacious, forgive me, I'm not perfect.
Choose three of the following:
2. Bell Peppers
Find your numbers:
You're a mainstream kind of guy who likes to go with the flow. You know why something is so popular, so why take a chance with something unfamiliar and weird?
2. Bell Peppers
You appreciate having simple but consistent and satisfying texture to the way you do things on a daily basis. You are willing to deal with a little bitterness in order to get satisfactory results. And when complex variety does happen to pop up, your usual routine only adds to the mix!
You realize that the subtle and sometimes unnoticed things in life are important and things are quite different without them. Sometimes you like lots of little things, other times there are so many big events going on that you can only deal with a few of them.
Why settle for something average when you can go to the next level for only a very small sacrifice? You live uptempo and never miss an opportunity to improve your game. But remember to limit your luxury.
You understand that fads are fads for a reason: They won't be popular forever, but while they are, get 'em while you can! You also know that something that makes you feel good is worth a small sacrifice of practicality or legitimacy.
As far as you're concerned, there is no right or wrong situation for something that is great. Go right ahead and wear your favorite basketball jersey to the soccer game. Some may say they don't mix, but hey: since when do those people make the rules?
You like the idea and afterthought of events much more than the event itself. You're willing to sacrifice an hour something boring to do if it will add to your legacy and boost your morale and status both prior and afterwards.
You are a very resilient person who is willing to work hard and make mistakes to come out with satisfaction and joy at the end. You know that the difficulty it takes to conquer a task is outweighed by the pride gained by completing it.
Whoa, wait up. Slow down the action and take in something that is familiar, friendly, and still just the same as you remembered. You are excellent at this. You live by this.
Thanks for taking the quiz, and I hope you got conclusive results!
Itinerary for Wednesday and Thursday:
Wednesday: We drive to Vermont. As soon as we settle down we get started on our yearly pecan pie. It has to set in the fridge overnight. We sleep early because we are tired.
Thursday (Thanksgiving): We probably head over to my grandparents' at around eleven AM. It is always awkward at first; seeing cousins and aunts and uncles for the first time in a year. But in a bit the adults are off chatting and the kids begin playing around. We play hide and seek or some tag game inside. Sometimes all the kids are already there, but usually it is twenty minutes or so before the entire crew arrives. The big meal generally happens early. We never buy stuff from the store; every family brings a homemade part of the meal. We eat for an hour or so and then sit down to watch one of the football games (generally the Lions since my uncle is a diehard Packers fan). Once the food has settled in our stomachs we head outside. We play tackle football (usually something like 8 on 8, though there's really only three or four "big" kids on each team and the rest is little kids who kind of just run around) in the snow. Usually adults will come out and be the QBs (usually my uncle Kurt, my uncle Karl, my uncle Pete, or my Dad). We play until it gets dark. Then we go inside for a break and grab some popcorn or whatever is sitting in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Then we make an adult give us a flashlight and play flashlight tag or manhunt. Most of the little kids stay inside for this, so it's more intense. My grandparents' property is basically like a farm so there's barns and a bunch of trees and bushes. It is an ideal environment for hide and seek type games. And plus it's really dark so it's almost scary. We play until the adults make us come in or someone slips on ice and hurts themselves (generally both). We then come in and sneak some ice cream or more pie if there's any left. With renewed energy we play "Hippo" (adult-friendly Bloody Murderer) and constantly get yelled at by aunts and uncles with sleeping children upstairs. Eventually the game falls apart and we screw around while the parents talk endlessly. Sometimes we'll watch a movie or more TV. We end up leaving at around eleven PM or later depending on how long the parents want to talk. But there is no sorrow for we always come back for dinner the next night!
Everyone has been the underdog at one point. Northwestern's football team was definitely the underdog last night against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After Notre Dame went up by eleven points late in the game, Northwestern rallied to tie the game and force overtime, where they managed to score a field goal for the win.
The Northwestern Wildcats entered the game expected to lose by 17 points. There has been a rivalry between them and Notre Dame that began almost a hundred years ago in 1917. Though Northwestern has had decent teams in the past, since the turn of the century they have not been contenders for the title. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has made a name for itself as one of the elite college football teams and was the runner-up in the BCS Bowl in 2012.
You can probably tell that Notre Dame entered this game expecting an easy win. They had a 7-2 record, which placed them at #18 nationally. They were still in the running for a spot in the newly devised College Football Playoff. Northwestern, on the other hand, was 4-6 and had recently lost to Michigan in a blowout, who Notre Dame beat 31-0 earlier in the season. At this point they were playing for pride. And their pride definitely showed:
It is always quite a thrill to see an upset win. This game has been one of the biggest upsets of the year so far. Ad because of the nature of the college game, losing more than two games usually puts you out of contention, especially if you lose to a lowly ranked squad like Northwestern. This is why it is always worth watching what looks like an easy game: games like this are asking for a Cinderella story.
This book has been quite interesting so far. There's this guy named Guy, who's last name is Montag. He's a firefighter, but instead of putting out fires, he sets them! His main objective is to burn books (don't quite know his reasoning here). His society doesn't read or really spend any time alone in the quiet. They're always watching big-screen TVs and listening to their "Seashell Radio". They don't really talk to each other unless absolutely necessary, and they drive at excessive speeds through their somewhat futuristic world. The book so far basically talks about Guy's love for see books "fluttering into the red-black sky, their asking raining down to the earth". So the summary so far is that America went pyro and everybody is lazy as heck.
“Now, auntie, that ain't any harm," pleaded Mary; "it's only Tom's giddy way—he is always in such a rush that he never thinks of anything.”
Excerpt From: Twain, Mark. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
Being a kid is usually a lot of fun. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, young Tom Sawyer definitely takes advantage of his youth. From trading small treasures and trinkets to his escapades with young Becky Thatcher, Mark Twain's chronicle of a boy's youth in the nineteenth century encompasses not only a rich description of a boy's life two hundred years ago but also many concepts and events that happen in Tom's age group today. The gay qualities of youthful Tom shine brightly in many places. One such place is in Chapter 16, when Tom and his island-mates Joe Harper and Huck Finn are feeling depressed and homesick. Tom brightens the mood when he reminds them of the plan to visit their own funeral:
He reminded them of the imposing secret, and raised a ray of cheer. While it lasted, he got them interested in a new device. This was to knock off being pirates, for a while, and be Indians for a change. They were attracted by this idea; so it was not long before they were stripped, and striped from head to heel with black mud, like so many zebras—all of them chiefs, of course—and then they went tearing through the woods to attack an English settlement.
Excerpt From: Twain, Mark. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
I have the privilege of being a kid around the same age as Tom Sawyer. Obviously, times have changed with all the technology and other advancements, but in many ways, Tom and I share a lot in common. We are both adolescent boys always trying to have fun while staying on top of our lives and trying to figure out how to live in the world around us. In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, one of the biggest themes is Tom's transition through boyhood to adolescence. Though he may not realize that his days of goofing and playing war are winding down, he still enjoys every moment of what he does like every other youth should.
Sorry for my little pun in the title. Didn't you ever play with those little colorful trains with the faces and really skinny wheels? No? Well, okay. Brio is a very new place in the Chestnut Hill Square area, near Del Frisco's. It opened up last year on April 27th, a very important day in this nation's history (my birthday). I was curious about it's "Tuscan" style and it was definitely interesting. It's menu was very concise and had almost to many options packed into just one big page (the other side was the wine and cocktail list). They had a large selection of lighter items with less calories, so if you are on some sort of diet this place will suffice. After hard thought, I ended up ordering the Chicken Milanese over the Cavatappi Carbonara. Both looked great. My Mom's salad came out in literally about a minute, and she enjoyed it. My lemonade was quite good and I know it was homemade. I was pumped when I saw my meal. It was a big hunk of pan-seared breaded chicken pounded thin, with pomodoro (tomato) sauce and penne noodles. Best of all? A healthy helping of fresh mozzarella cheese melted on top, and when it came there was a dude with a cheese shaver who shredded a bunch of pecorino romano on top. It was really, really good. My sister basically ordered the kid's version of it, and my Dad ordered some veal piccata thing that looked pretty great. I ended up being pretty stuffed, but we asked to see a dessert menu anyway. The guy came out with this monstrous platter of all the desserts and gave us a description of each. Later I saw some people from a different table trying multiple desserts! They had one that was three items, and you could order all of them together or just one. It was some sort of bread pudding, creme brûlée, and cheesecake. They also had six mini "dolchinos" that were in tall, skinny cups. There was key lime, double chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, pumpkin spice cookie, tiramisu, and chocolate caramel cake. The last item was a chocolate lava cake with gelato. This interested me the most and I got it. We also ordered the chocolate peanut butter, pumpkin spice cookie, and the cheesecake. Mine was great but it was so rich and warm I couldn't finish it. I tried the peanut butter chocolate dolchino and it was great. My Mom offered to late with a bite of cheesecake; I was completely full.
Brio was a great experience and I must mention that the decor inside was quite well done. They have fifty-eight locations nationwide, but the Chestnut Hill one is the only in Massachusetts. The next closest is in Hartford, Connecticut. They have a complete list at their website. This place was kind of like a step up from Olive Garden. It deserves a pretty good rating for sure.
Brio Tuscan Grille
200 Boylston Street
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Web: brioitalian.com/chestnut_hill_square.html The platter of desserts Rik's Picks rating: ******** (8)
Not Your Average Joe's is in Acton, Arlington, Beverly, Burlington, Dartmouth, Hyannis, Medford, Methuen, Needham, Newburyport, Norwell, Randolph, Seekonk, Watertown, and Westborough in MA as well as a location in Maryland, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island and a couple in Virginia and Pennsylvania. That's twenty-two locations. This place is definitely not average. I went to the Needham location, right around the corner from Gari. We walked in and I immediately noticed that there was takeout (just mentioning this-you can order online or call). We ordered two-dollar bottomless raspberry lime "rickeys" which were totally worth it. They had a full list of non-alcoholic mocktails, which looked quite cool. I ordered a special off the Oktoberfest menu, called pumpkin mole (pronounced moe-lay-not made from moles) chicken. After we ordered I ended up calling back our server to order the Carribean buffalo tenders for an appetizer. Very, very good choice. They were mango-y and spicy and not at all vinagary (I hate that). My only problem with them is that my family was hogging them down so fast that I "only" got two of the five tenders. Then our entrees came. My meal was delicious. My parents also got Mexican; they ordered tacos. My sister's steak tips looked good also. We couldn't order dessert, but I caught a glance of the menu and a tantalizingly named "Peanut butter thing" which I definitely want to come back and try.
In my last entry I included a picture of those great mascarporeos. I decided that instead I will put a link to a recipe in this entry, for the tenders. As for the rating? I think I've made it pretty obvious that I love this place. It ties for the high score.
Not Your Average Joe's Needham
109 Chapel Street
Needham, MA 02492
Rik's Picks rating: ********* (9)
Tenders Recipe: http://www.notyouraveragejoes.com/recipes/buffalo-tenders/
P.S: If you attend one of the restaurants I review, please leave a short review yourself in the comments box. This helps a lot.
Sorry for the delay; lots of new stuff in the classwork section but I haven't had time for food review. Hopefully I can consistently post from now on!
Alta Strada is a little Gem in Wellesley HIlls, right in my neck of the woods. I have previously been there and last night I got to experience this place again. I will say one downside of this place is that its often loud because of the open-air layout, nevertheless delicious. For an appetizer, we ordered crunchy veal meatballs. These are really good sounding in the first place and are even better than they sound. Pan fried, crisp, and served with spicy tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese, they're the perfect way to start your meal. Also, they give you bread that comes with this awesome olive oil. It has an indescribable flavor, though it is not very complicated. For my entree, after intense debate, I chose pappardelle bolognese over cheese ravioli in red sauce. Both dishes were very simple (my brother ordered the ravioli) yet delicious. I managed to finish. Next came dessert. First of all, they have something called mascarporeos (below).These are literally one of he most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life. You get a bowl of light-as-a-cloud mascarpone cream which is like whipped cream but lighter and a hundred times better. On the side you get these delicious rich chocolate shortbread cookies, which you use to scoop the mascarpone. I have never really been a fan of shortbread cookies but these ones were just perfect. The item as a whole is ten-star Rik's Picks rating. The stuff is amazing. We also ordered a chocolate tart which was super strong and some sorbet and gelato which included the suprisingly good flavor of grape. They homemake these ice creams and the falvors change daily. This was a great experience.
I have said enough for what I think about this place. It gets the highest rating yet. I will mention that there is another location at the Foxwoods Resort-Casino in Connecticut.
Alta Strada Wellesley
92 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
Rik's Picks rating:********* (9)
This is my first review of a restaurant that I went to lunch at. Del Frisco's is on a great strip of stores in Chestnut Hill and I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed. I ordered an Arnold Palmer which was made the right way (lemonade in first so the iced tea is separated and you can self-mix). I then ordered a double-patty cheeseburger with lettuce. It came with a personal mini squeeze bottle of ketchup (I didn't use it, but still, it's cool) and a big thing of fries. These were the highlight of the meal. Just the right crispness, and salt in big chunks sprinkled liberally on top so some fries were super salty while others were barely salted. I had to resist the urge to eat them all and leave my burger half-finished. When I asked our server what the secret was, he looked at me and said, "Idaho potatoes?" It was quite funny. We also started with an order of the pimento cheese fritters, delicious little cheese balls with not-super spicy pepper chunks...really good. My burger was also solid though I would have hoped for cheddar as opposed to artificially orange American cheese. The menu had a large selection of salads in two sizes and also had a good appetizer section, dubbed "Things to fight over". They had about ten or so sandwiches and a couple meat and fish items. I do also have to say the decor of the place was stunning, and it's view was great as you could not see the parking lot from two stories up.
This place was really a classic American type of place, with international vibes here and there. There were lots of high quality restaurants a minute's walk away and Del Frisco's was kind of hidden down an alley, but it turned out to be a great find. And those fries were the best I've ever had. Real good food, a solid Rik's Picks rating in store.
Del Frisco's Grille
33 Boylston Street Suite 3370
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Rik's Picks rating: ******* (7)