Times Up Kidz

Until recently when we have been using our computers, there have been set time limits that we have had to adhere to. Sometimes I’d lose track of time, or forget how long I’d played, and that always led to bad things because I was quite frequently getting scolded for not following the rules. It was great when we found this time keeping program. Not great as in, “Yippee! Enforced time limits!”, but great because there is no ambiguity in how long I’ve played. No one can get mad at me because the computer does not allow me to play more than the allotted time.

This is the time limit select screen.
Click to see a large version.

The way the program works is quite interesting. Instead of running in the background of a user’s process, like most programs, it runs on the system process, which means it’s running even if you are logged out. You can’t just end the process from the task manager so that makes it hard to circumvent. Also, you can’t just run the program as an admin and change the limits. You have to be logged in to an admin account because the program ties itself into the Windows user account.

The program keeps me informed on how much time I have left with alerts. There are pop up alerts, but when in other full screen programs these don’t show up, so the other alert type, audio, is much more useful, even though it does sound a little condescending with it’s falsely sweet voice. If I could suggest a feature it would be the ability to change the sound files that play at the thirty, fifteen, five, one, and zero minute marks.
I’ve used the program on Windows 7 as well as Windows 8 and it works in both, with one caveat. The pop up alerts only appear in the desktop when using Windows 8, but this could be easily fixed by the programmer using the Windows 8 notification system instead of the legacy taskbar pop ups.

I enjoy the fact that it gives me a pleasant experience and the info I need to moderate my own time.

AP Class and Summer Assignment

Because during the year I participated in the practice SAT and acheive above average scores I was given the option to, in 8th grade (next year), be in an AP class which will count towards college credit. Of course I wanted to do it I thought it would be fun and different. They then said it would be AP US Government and Politics. I think that is a pretty interesting topic. Later when school was over I received an email with instruction on a summer project. The project was to write a series of 5 summaries on current events in US government and politics. We had to use selected sources and could not be more than a page long. Well here is the first one I did.

This article is addressing the topic of Legislative Branch: Congress. The article is from CNN.com, which is a mainstream news source. This news story outlines an updated farm bill to help struggling farmers. However, it did not include food stamp aid. The vote in the Republican-led House was 216 for to 208 against. No Democrat voted for the bill and only 12 Republicans voted against. The debating was fierce and there was yelling and screaming from both sides. A month earlier the Senate approved a different farm bill with the food stamp help. The House decided to carry on with the bill excluding food stamps and voted on that in a future bill. Republicans feel that there aren’t enough cuts on food stamps and Democrats believe the cuts are too severe and food stamp requirements are too harsh.  However some Democrats are worried if food stamp assistance is voted on individually without farmer aid then it surely won’t pass. Republican Leaders were worried the farm legislation wouldn’t go through before next month and they would have disappointed many rural communities. Republican Leaders promised they would work to ensure both programs would be funded. This story shows how the Congress passes bills and resolves disagreements between Democratic and GOP Leaders. It also explains what the farm bill represents and includes.

Debate Topic

During my 6th grade year I was presented with the question what is more important in your life the economy or environment? I thought long and hard about the question and here is what I came up with.

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The environment is more important in my life. Keeping the environment clean and healthy promotes growth of crops and nature Things the grow in the environment can feed us, shelter us and give us air and water that we need.

 

The environment is not only essential for life, but can also give our economy benefits lif food or resources to gather and  sell. For example without the environment the would be no tomatoes and that would impact the economy in ways like less options to sell at grocery stores or restaurants. Just imagine what would happen to pizzerias without tomatoes.

If I had to answer the question of which is more important the environment or the economy, I would definitely choose the environment because the economy depends on the environment. The environment can keep our world healthy at the same time as improving the economy in countless ways, but better yet it can keep the human race alive.

Creekside Cabin ’13

For the Independence Day weekend my family and I went to stay in a cabin at Batcave, North Carolina (The city next to Chimney Rock State Park). To start off the trip I woke up around 7 a.m. on Thursday morning which happened to be July 4th. I went through all the normal trip procedures pack clothes, get a pillow, put my stuff I wanted to bring like my widdling knife and book in a bag, and finally pack my toothbrush. The only different thing about this morning is that I had to help my Dad and brothers strap wood logs in buckets on the roof the car. The reason being that we were bring our own firewood to make a campfire at the cabin. We quickly packed up the rest of the food and attempted to fit everything into the car. It was a tight fit and we had to put things like a watermelon and tiki torches in between my brother, Connor, and I. We loaded our cat Spice’s food bowl to the very top, so while we were gone he would have food. Then we took off in the car and began the 4 hour road trip to the cabin. It didn’t seem that long considering we drove 8hours almost every day for 2 weeks for our road trip to Malibu, California last Christmas. When we arrived at the cabin it was raining. It had been for the last couple of week and we didn’t expect it to let up anytime soon. I got my belongings and ran into the house only stopping to glance at a creepy metal sunflower in front of the house. The rain let up for a couple of minutes allowing Connor and I to go searching for a marshmallow stick. My brother was lucky and found a stick by the campsite that someone else must of left there and I had to

Me (back) and my brother Connor (front) playing Yahtzee

go through the forest searching for a stick. Finally I found one broken off of a tree in the storm. The rain was starting to come back so my brother and I headed back to the porch to widdle our marshmallow sticks. The rest of the first day wasn’t that interesting  we brought the logs on top of our car to the campfire site and set them there to dry which didn’t work that well. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the porch, reading, and watching movies like Legally Blonde and Tropic Thunder.

There were three beds in the cabin and that meant that my parents shared one, I had to share one with my brother

Its a little fuzzy, but that is me and my brother Connor in the river.

Connor, and the last lucky person my brother Alexander got his own bed. I’m not complaining that I had to share because that was one of the softest beds I have ever slept in. I woke up at 9:30 that morning and took a quick shower. Lucky for us it wasn’t raining, so my first intention was getting my Dad down to the fireplace to help start the fire. After everyone finally woke up we headed down to the fireplace to start the fire, but the logs were to wet to light. I was a little disappointed, but I knew that my Dad and my brother Connor were going to get some firewood and lighting fluid. While they were at the store I got in the river with my brother Alexander. The current was strong, but I was still really fun. They finally got back from the store with firewood, hay, and lighting fluid. We spread the hay around the campfire site to stop it from getting all muddy, but as we would later find

Some yummy corn roasted over the fire.

out it just was the home to tons of flies. We roasted lots of hotdogs until the storm came back around 5 p.m. to ruin the rest of the day. I was bored, so I taught my mom and brother, Connor, how to play Yahtzee. After a couple of rounds of that we played some Rummy 500 until it was bedtime.

Again I slept like a baby in that bed until I woke up again with more of an urge to roast stuff over the fire, so I got up and asked my parents if we could make a fire, but they said we needed to get smores supplies, so I drove into town with my Dad to the Ingles and got marshmallows, chocolate, and ghram crackers. When we got back to the cabin it was more like the second day we roasted a bunch of marshmallows, hotdogs, bacon, corn, potatoes and had a wonderful and filling meal. After eat all that stuff I went back into the river, this time with my brother Connor. I had lots of fun and finally built up the courage to swim across strong current to the other side. Like yesterday it started to rain but around 7 this time. When we got inside I saw that they had the board game Cranium at the house. I convinced everyone into to playing it and we all

Me making marshmallows by the fire.

had a great time. For dinner we went into town to look for a restaurant, but couldn’t find anything good, so we drove home and had some of the best sandwiches I have ever had. The last thing we did that day was play 5 intense matches of Rummy 500. It was a tie. I enjoyed my last night in this bed before I got up in the morning to drive home.

I really enjoyed this trip and want to come back soon.

Bat Cave 2013

Yesterday we got back from one of the coolest trips I’ve been on. It was to a creek-side cabin in Bat Cave, NC. First we got up in the morning at around 8, then we started packing our clothes and personal belongings. Then at around 10 we went outside and brought some logs and sticks, which we had got from fallen tree branches, and put them in two buckets which Daddy strapped to the top of the car. Once we were done we loaded the car. It was so full we had to have things like a watermelon, some eggs, tiki torches, and pillows in our laps or next to us. It had rained the whole time but when we got there it subsided. When we finally got there Nicholas recognized, we had gone last year, this creepy sunflower face next to the gateway to the door. The first thing Nicholas and I did was grab our pocket knifes and head out back, past the campfire site and into the forest. We were looking for cool hiking/fire poking sticks. I say to perfect long stick leaning in the water against a tree. I think some one put it there. And then I help Nicholas find one in the brush. We whittled these branches so no bark or discoloring was showing. Later we unloaded the car and the logs from the car rack. After that I went with Daddy to buy some lighter fluid and some corn for the campfire. When we got back Alexander and Nicholas were in the river wading around. After we brought down the stuff I joined them. We had so much fun climbing the rocks in the river and floating down. That was some of the most fun I had through the whole trip. Equally or more fun then that was the fire where we cooked hot-dogs, bacon, corn, potatoes, onions, toast, and last but not least, s’mores. The next night was basically the same but after more rain made us go in we played Cranium. It was real fun. We then went to town! But there was nothing good to eat so we drove back and had some sandwiches and played Rummy 500. The next morning we packed up and left. The whole trip was really fun and would love to go back next year.

Creekside Cottage

Another trip to Creekside Cottage! When we left home it already started raining. When we got there, it was crazy. The river was about twice as high as it normally was. The raining unfortunately stopped us from making a fire immediately. We sat on the porch watching the raining. It was pretty chill and it was good to do that after spending a few hours in the car. After awhile the rain finally subsided and we all got to unloading the wood from the the car that we brought along with us. We couldn’t get a fire started because everything was too wet. The day was spent chilling inside and watching TV because it was way too wet outside.

The second day my dad went to get some light fluid and some dry logs so we could start a fire. I spent time with my brothers playing around in the river, which had subsided since the previous day. It was cold and fast but I had fun. We actually got a fire going that day and we cooked probably too many hotdogs and wursts. It was very delicious and even though my stomach hurt afterwords I felt satisfied.

The third day was more of the second day. We cooked a fire and this time I didn’t get in the water. That day we cooked vegetables. Corn and potatoes in the fire, wrapped in foil. I didn’t have any corn but it was rumored to be really good. I had more hotdogs because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. The stomach ache was even sort of worth it this time. Even though, the best part of this trip was the not having to worry about anything. Sitting around and looking at the forest across the river was how I spent most of my time, and I liked all of it.

Kerbal Space Program

Lately I have been play a game called Kerbal Space Program or KSP. The gist of the game is to create, launch, and perform successful space missions. In creating a rocket, shuttle, or space-plane  you get a list of tons of different ship parts each with mass, weight in vacuum, drag, fuel consumption, lifting strength, etc. You can then assemble then into the ship of your choosing, taking into account its centers of mass, lift, thrust, how much fuel it contains, and how fast it can accelerate. Another addition is rocket stages which can be decoupled (ejected) once that stage is unnecessary. There is a lot more complexity to it that is pretty close to the things rocket engineers look for in rockets. After you have created your ship you can launch it on the launch pad. The first thing you want to do for any mission, it be docking to a space station or land on the moon and returning (hopefully), you must achieve orbit around the Earth-like planet you start on, Kerbin. At first I became very frustrated in taking orbit but finally I succeeded. It took a lot of patience and practice. After I got orbit with a satellite rocket I put my first probe in orbit. My next (current) task is to  safely put a three man crew on the Mun (in-game moon) and back to Kerbin, alive. I’m having trouble designing my rocket to cut down on mass. So far I have lander with three nuclear powered engine, a central liquid fueled rocket, and six asparagus staged side boosters to help it break through the atmosphere. I have already sent a mission to the Mun but failed to successfully land only the lander The two Kerbals in the lander hit the ground, breaking the fall for the command pod were Bob Kerman was maneuvering the vessel. As the engine scraped against the lunar surface exploding and launching Bob’s pod across the ground sliding at 20 meters a second. When the pod slowed he went for the first Kerbal EVA. Luckily he got out before the pod caught fire and in turn exploded. He sent out a distress signal back to Kerbin, hoping one day we will send out a rescue party which I plan to do.

Learning Japanese

So I wanted to learn a skill over the summer, and I decided to try and learn Japanese, or as it is more commonly known, moonrunes. First I tried placing an English-Japanese dictionary in the middle of a chalk pentagram and burning inscents while chanting rhythmic hymns, begging the spirits to grant me with this incomprehensible knowledge. But that didn’t work so now I have to actually learn it the old-fashioned way: memorization.

Click to see it larger.

The first step was learning the Hiragana and Katakana scripts. These are the phonetic scripts used to write words that don’t have Kanji. There are 42 essential characters in both scripts, which means there are 84 characters you need to know to read Japanese without Kanji. There are only 42 essential phonetic sounds in Japanese though, so there are two characters for each sound; one is from hiragana and the other is from katakana.

Heh, this is on my mouspad.

So what are Kanji? Kanji are Chinese pictograms that are used to replace a word. They save space and can be used to show word breaks in writing. But why use Chinese characters in Japanese? Many aspects of Japanese culture are borrowed from China, and this includes the Hanzi writing system. Pronounced Kanji in Japanese, these characters are the same in meaning and only different in pronunciation, so in learning Japanese, you can learn a significant part of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Although many find the writing system to be the hardest part, I’m pretty good at memorizing symbols so I need to focus on the grammar and the speaking. Japanese grammar is very contextual, meaning instead of saying, “Are you doing okay?” I could just say, “Okay?” and the sentence would still be valid. Likewise, instead of saying, “I am going to the store,” I could say, “Going to store,” and the ‘I’ would be implied. Thus, this makes Japanese a little hard to get used to from English, especially when translating a long sentence such as, “When I came home from school, my sister was sitting on the couch.” (“When come home from school, my sister sitting on couch,” literally.)

I just started a few weeks ago, so obviously I am not close to being just a tiny bit fluent, but I can say a few phrases, and I can write a few words, so I’ll see how much I know after a few years.

Cruising Latin America

One of my biggest papers I had to write in the year was one about Latin America. There were seven options of where to do it you could have a cruise on the coast, a cruise through the Amazon rainforest, a trek through the Andes, etc. I choose a cruise on the  coast and learned i had to have 6 stops. 2 in South America, 2 in Central America, and 2 in  Mexico. This is the Paper I wrote.

Day 1

I am going on a cruise in Latin America. My destinations will be Havana, Cuba, Kingston, Jamaica, Panama City, Panama, San Jose, Costa Rica, Cancun, Mexico, and last but not least, Chichen Itza, Mexico. I have just arrived at my first stop in Havana, Cuba. I had to convert some of my money into Cuban Pesos. That is the currency they use here. My guide speaks both Spanish and English in case we needed to talk to the local people. My guide explained to me that long ago the Spanish came and colonized Cuba. He also told me that a major export of Cuba is sugar and a major import is petroleum. He recommended we go to the Zoologico Nacional (National Zoo) in Havana. I saw a variety of extraordinary animals from flamingos to rhinos. We got to ride a train around the zoo and get a close up view of all the dangerous animals. I also collected sand from the Havana beaches for a souvenir. I’m back on the boat and my next destination is Kingston, Jamaica.

Day 2

I have just arrived at my second stop — Kingston, Jamaica. Again I had to convert my money into Jamaican dollars. Lucky for me they speak English here, so my guide doesn’t need to translate. My guide told me that Spain had colonized Jamaica at first, but then the British came and conquered them. On my guide’s tour he explained that a major import of the country was machinery, but the major export was alumina. He brought us to the Bob Marley museum, which was the musician’s house before he passed away. It displayed all of his personal treasures. I even got to see the wall with a bullet hole in it from the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. At the souvenir shop I got a “Bob”-ble head Marley. If I ever visit Jamaica again I will definitely come back to the museum, but now it’s off to Panama City, Panama!

Day 3

Hooray! I have just docked at Panama City, Panama and I can’t wait to see the Panama Canal. My guide lent me some Panamanian Balboa, so I could buy some food. While we were eating at a restaurant my guide explained to me that like the others this country was also colonized by Spain and they brought along their language (Spanish) and religion. He also said that the major import of this country was machinery and a major export was bananas. After we ate he brought me to the Panama Canal. It was an awe inspiring sight with the two oceans coming so close together. As weird as it may seem it was kind of fun watching the cargo ships raising and lowering in different sections of the canal. I bought a small model of the Panama Canal with a cruise ship in it at the souvenir shop. Panama City was a lot of fun, but I can’t wait to see San Jose, Costa Rica!

Day 4

After a long night on the cruise ship I woke up to the sight of the beautiful beaches in San Jose. I was informed that I needed to use Costa Rican colones as currency. My guide/translator went through his usual routine of telling me that this country was also colonized by the Spanish, and therefore this country also spoke Spanish. He also said that its major export was coffee and its major import is raw materials. My guide said that we should go to the Manuel Antonio Beach. According to him it is the most popular beach in San Jose. When I got there I saw the most angelic beach with white sand and gentle waves just perfect for swimming. After hours of having a great time at the beach I got sunburned like a piece of burnt toast. I went and got a postcard from the beach souvenir shop. But after that I couldn’t wait to get back to my room and lay down.

Day 5

My burn is finally healed and I am ready for my next adventure in Cancun, Mexico. I got up early so I could eat breakfast and get outside earlier. I met my guide at breakfast and he caught me up with all the latest information. We were in Mexico and I already knew that they spoke Spanish here and it was colonized by Spain. But I didn’t know that they used a Mexican Peso or that a major import was machinery and one major export was crude oil. I asked him if he knew any exciting places to go and he recommended we go to the Interactive Aquarium in Cancun. When we got there we paid the entrance fees and bought a Shark Tank ticket. They put us in a cage and lowered us into the tank with all the sharks in it. I came up nose to nose with one of the sharks and almost fainted. I bought a model shark to remind me of when I went to the interactive aquarium. After all that I got tired and went back to my room on the cruise ship.

Day 6

This was the last day of the cruise, so when I got up and went to the breakfast I wanted to eat real fast, so I could spend as much time off the boat during the day. My guide started to tell me about imports and exports, but I reminded him that we were still in Mexico and he told me yesterday. He told me we were in Chichen Itza now and we should visit the famous Temple of Kukulkan. When we got to the temple I admired the pyramid while my guide explained to me that it was built by the Mayan civilization some time between the 9th and 12th centuries. He also said that during the Spring and Autumn equinoxes the temple casts a shadow of a feathered serpent on the side of the pyramid. I got a little model of the temple at the souvenir shop. That was my last day of the cruise and I thought back of the places I went to in Havana, Cuba, Kingston, Jamaica, Panama City, Panama, San Jose, Costa Rica, Cancun, Mexico, and Chichen Itza, Mexico. I not only had an extraordinary time on this cruise, but I also learned a lot about the countries I visited.

Works Cited

“Central Intelligence Agency.” CIA. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

“Manuel Antonio Beach.” Destination 360. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

“Plan the Perfect Trip.” Trip Advisor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

“PlanetWare Travel Guide.” Planet Ware. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.