Georgia Aquarium (Behind the scenes)

Last week in school, we took a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium (the largest aquarium in the world)! We got to see all the behind the scenes places and even got some time to tour the aquarium however we wanted. This is an account of what happened that day.

First, we got to school, dropped off our stuff, loaded the buses and then headed to the aquarium. Once we got to the aquarium, we were lead inside by a guide and through the door in the back of entrance where the ordinary person visiting the aquarium is not allowed. The first thing we saw was the top of the famous Ocean Voyager exhibit which is home to 4 whale sharks and 4 manta rays! We were standing right up next to the edge of the tank and the only thing in between me and the water was a piece of acrylic glass held up by two metal posts. We even got to see some of the sharks getting fed.

This is the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit.

This is the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit.

After that, we learned how the fish got fed in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. The whale sharks get fed by a raft that goes across the water and drops krill behind it. They have trained the whale sharks to follow the raft at a certain time or they don’t get fed. The manta rays are fed by swimming over a blue tarp where they drop the food. The blue tarp is used so that the workers can pull the tarp up and examine the manta rays for health.

After we learned about the feeding, we visited the top of an exhibit where they raise the fish pups. When we entered, there was a big tank of water were they held all of the fish pups. There were little windows surrounding the room were they were growing coral and small fish, like seahorses. In the center of the room, there was a big container that filled up with 60,000 gallons of water and dropped into the tank to simulate a wave very 5 minutes or so.IMG_20140219_111214

The next thing we did after the behind the scenes tour was watch a informational movie about the ocean and what humans do to it, called Deepo’s undersea 3D wondershow, and eat lunch.

After we finished lunch, our teachers let us tour the aquarium ourselves for the last hour. I visited all of the exhibits. I visited the Cold Water Quest exhibit first where they had a bunch of cool animals like beluga whales, penguins, and otters. The next exhibit I saw was the River Scout exhibit. They had alligators, electric eels, and all sorts of river fish. Then I visited the Georgia Explorer exhibit where you could touch stingrays and sharks! After that, I visited the AT&T Dolphin Tales exhibit. They had dolphins that you could see doing tricks and swimming around. After the dolphin exhibit, I visited the Tropical Diver exhibit where you could see jellyfish and cool deep sea fish. The last exhibit I visited was the Sea Monsters Revealed exhibit. It showed all of the scariest, huge animals and fish that you can find in the sea like giant squid, sun fish, and sharks.

The aquarium was really fun and entertaining and I can’t wait to see it again.


rotring-600-pencilI have always loved pencils, pens, erasers, and the like. Most recently I bought a new drafting mechanical pencil from the German brand Rotring. The one I purchased was a Rotring 600 Drafting Pencil. I have only had it for two days  now but IKnurling_closeup already thinks it’s the best pencil I have every used. It is black with a fully metal body and a knurled metal grip. A knurled grip is one with many small metal diamond shapes and is usually used for drafting pencil because it is very good for gripping. The eraser is a little small and cheap but I don’t use the eraser on my pencils, I carry around a little Faber Castell eraser… And those who would use this pencil are not the kind of people who wouldn’t have a nice eraser as well. This particular pencil has 0.5mm lead but there are also versions of the pencil with 0.35mm and 0.7mm, as well. I like 0.5mm the most because it is smaller and better for finer drawing and writing than the 0.7mm but it larger than the 0.3mm and 0.35mm leads so it won’t break as easily. The pencil also features a marker near the end of the pencil which you can turn to show what lead the pencil is using if you own multiple with different lead strengths. The clip on the Rotring 600 looks quite sturdy and I trust that it won’t break easily. My overall SONY DSCview of the pencil is that it is very reliable and well made. I think I will be using this pencil for years to come. This Rotring is part of the 600 series which is the one of the medium price ranged Rotring products. There is also an 800 series Draft Pencil which features a retractable tip but for twice as much I think I’ll be okay.The company was started in 1928 as Tintenkuli Handels GmbH in Hamburg, Germany. Their first product the Tintenkuli was a fountain pen with a narrow tip instead of the traditional flat tips. This type of pen is known as a stylographic pen as was popular in North America at the time but was little known in Europe. The pens had a little red ring around the end of the pen and all their pens and pencils to come also came with this trademark. The name of the company was later changed to Rotring which means red ring in German. (Ahh… so that’t what that little piece of red plastic around the eraser is for!) The company laterrotring 600 in holder introduced the Rotring Rapidograph in 1953, a technical pen which soon became the pen of choice for technical drafters. Rotring’s initial glory soon faded when CAD or computer-aided design became more popular than hand-drawing designs, so they began producing drafting pencils, markers, and pencils. In 1998, Rotring was taken over by Sandford L.P. who owns Papermate, Prismacolor, and Sharpie. But according to my experience with the Rotring 600 the quality didn’t decrease. I am very impressed with this Drafting Pencil, it just feels great to hold and write with. The hexagonal main body and the circular grip blend well. On an end note, I absolutely love this pencil and am very happy with my purchase. I get a tingling inside feeling every time I use it… :D

For The Record…

vinyl-1Many music enthusiasts have either said or heard the words “it sounds better on vinyl.” It has been a long known fact that audiophiles prefer to listen to records as opposed to digital recordings because they sound “warmer” and “more powerful.” Most chalk it up to personal preference, but is there actual evidence that shows vinyl as being a higher quality recording, especially with all the new lossless file formats of today such as FLAC and MP4? As a matter of fact, there is. Recording processes have gotten better, so that new Muse album you listen to will by default sound better than the Rolling Stones debut LP, but simple science shows that playback 20 years ago still beats the digital playback of today.

question487The big advantage vinyl has going for it is authentic analog playback. What does analog mean in terms of audio? If you picture a sound wave, you are picturing analog audio. We’ll get back to this in a minute. Analog’s antithesis is digital. When an analog audio wave is converted into a digital format, the computer has to be able to store the audio as a series of ones and zeros. In order to do this, the wave has to be quantitized – that is, split into a series of specific values. It very closely resembles a Riemann Sum. You can make a digital audio file extremely close to the original wave (and extremely large – uncompressed WAV files can be multiple megabytes) by increasing the bitrate, or precision of the estimate, but you will never be able to get a perfect digital wave. Compare this to an RecordunderMicroscope-viaSynthGearanalog vinyl. Audio gets stored on a record with a series of groves cut into the surface of the material. As the needle of the turntable runs over the groves, the vibrations are detected and converted from physical waves to audio waves. Of course you could say that, with this method, the recording is in reality only a very good copy of the original session. However, the playback is still undeniably analog, and thus the quality is technically infinitely better than a digital representation. But I regress, this does not make the listening experience infinitely better. The human ear can only pick up a certain fidelity of audio, and the higher quality gets, the harder it is to tell a difference between two qualities. You have to have a experienced and learned ear to even tell the difference between a 256 bitrate and 320 bitrate MP3.

So what does this mean for listeners? Vinyls have many cons to outweigh the fact that they sound better. They can be easily damaged. They take up physical space. They cost much more than digital downloads. The hardware required for listening to vinyl is easily ten times more expensive. So as one can see, the improved quality comes with a price (literally). In the end, it really is all up to personal preference. Is the listener willing to deal with the undesirable qualities of vinyl for the small increase in quality? Many audiophiles would affirm, and that’s why vinyl is now only for the most dedicated music enthusiasts.

Mountain Men

CameraZOOM-20140216154044648Up in Northern Georgia there are plenty of great hiking locations. We have been to Amicalola Falls many times before and were looking for something different. Anna Ruby Falls at Unicoi State Park was a cool hiking location we hadCameraZOOM-20140216154052061 been to before but the last time we had gone I was very little and I hadn’t remembered any of it. The car ride wasn’t too bad, only around an hour and a half. At the point when we were almost there we started to get very hungry and dropped by a local Ingles for some yummy sandwich stuff. When we got closer we drove through the nearby town of Helen CameraZOOM-20140216154326621which was very tacky and touristy. We closed in to Unicoi Lake were we set up a little picnic at a table nearby to the water. The food was great, as was the atmosphere. After finishing up our feast we drove up to theCameraZOOM-20140216160229655 Unicoi Falls entrance but turned around due to the cost of entering being very expensive. We drove back to the beach of the lake and started on a trail by the lakeside. The whole event was calm and peaceful and the weather was excellent. CameraZOOM-20140216172306952It was very weird at places because there was icy snow on the ground yet the weather was warm. Reaching the end of the trail we took another heading back. The weather and path was beautiful throughout the entire occasion. When we headed back to Helen we took a short detour to look at the rest of the lakeside area. We finally arrive at Helen and parked so weCameraZOOM-20140216175650259 could walked around a bit. The town was extremely cheesy and was like a sort-of Bavarian styled Disneyland. The “shoppes” we went to were almost all the same and were filled with weird touristy t-shirts. The only thing that was really good from Helen was the funnel cakes… mm. Overall the trip was a great experience which I wouldn’t mind doing again.

Unicoi & Helen

IMG_20140216_153331Walks in the hills are always pretty fun and are good ways to relax on a free day. Going to Unicoi State Park over the long break was one of these fun experiences. I actually got to drive almost three quarters of the way there. It was my first time driving on the freeway so it was very stressful. I made a few mistakes but nothing that damaged the car or anyone inside, so it all turned out okay. When we got close we stopped by an Ingles and bought a bunch of good looking foods such as bread, cheese, and fried chicken. When we got to the park we found a secluded picnic table and ate all of the food we bought.

IMG_20140216_164018We wanted to go see the Anna Ruby Falls but the park was charging three dollars a person to go see it so we turned around. After that we went for a walk on a trail close by to the picnic table that we ate at. We walked for a while and just relaxed in the nature. We actually walked for so long that we went half way around the whole lake there and it started to get dark. We took a shortcut back to our car and drove around some of the park roads just looking at some thing. We then decided to go check out Helen.

IMG_20140216_172707Apparently Helen was supposed to be a happening spot where college students would go to party, but when we got there it was evident that it was either off season or the town was going down the tubes. It was suffering from the same fate as Gattlinburg. Almost all of the shops sold the tackiest, dumbest tourist trap products and the only food places other than the well established restaurants were really cheap fried food places. We did have some good funnel cake, but enough for about a year. It was getting really dark so we headed back to the car and set off back home. It was a really neat trip despite the weird town. The walk in the woods was refreshing.

Gatorade (What is it?)

Last quarter in Health, we learned about nutrition and what is in the foods you eat. After the unit, I had wondered what is Gatorade and when do you need it? I did a little research and wrote a short essay for Health class.



Gatorade was invented by four researchers: Dr. Robert Cade, Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. H. James Free and Dr. Alejandro de Quesada at Florida University. The reason Gatorade was invented was when an assistant coach sat down with a team of physicians to discuss why so many of their players were getting heat deprived. You should probably only drink gatorade when you a playing a high intensity sport for a long time as the carbohydrates in gatorade help replace the glycogen that is lost when playing a hard sport. The G-series is a trio of gatorade drinks meant to take you from pre-game to post-game. There are three parts Prime, Perform, and Recover. The Prime drink is meant to be consumed 15 minutes before your game. It has carbohydrates, vitamin B, and electrolytes to get your body ready. The Perform drink is meant to be consumed during your game. It has carbohydrates to keep you energized while you are playing. The Recover drink is meant to be consumed right after your game. It contains electrolytes and proteins to refuel your body and give your body the amino acids it needs to rebuild.


SAT fights the ACT in one on one combat.

After taking both the SAT and ACT standardized college entry exams I can speak objectively on the subject and compare the two tests; something which many try to do. However, since I took them recently and have the advantage of being an actual high school junior as opposed to a test exam book writer, I feel that I can give a better comparison. I will not give my opinion on how I did, only observations of the exams and the ordeals surrounding them.

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9th Grade Electives and Classes

latinNext year will be my first year in High School, and I have a few choices about which classes and electives I will be taking. Electives are basically classes that are more “special” one might say. World Language and Computer Science class are electives. I have  very few choices about Math, Biology, and Language Arts; it is either honors or not. For my Social Studies credit spot I would have normally taken AP American Government and Politics but I am I taking that this year. I could only take it again I fail this year, which I won’t. That leaves me with a choice… I could take AP Human Geography or another elective spot but I wouldn’t really want that. Finally for my elective choices I want to take two World Language classes because number one, I really think knowing more about languages around the world is very interesting, and number two, I don’t think any of the other electives I would enjoy. I want to take Latin where I would learn about the language that most all of “Western” languages are based off of, and learn about the history of the people that spoke it. My brother really enjoyed that class and I think I would too. Thejpanese second class I want to take is Japanese because ever since I was very little I was fascinated by Japanese language, culture, food, and history. In that class I would learn about the three Japanese writing systems and learn basic vocabulary and grammar. I wanted to take Japanese in seventh grade but I didn’t know the class was. I am very excited for next year and what my classes and subjects will be like.

The Story of the Middle East

Awhile ago in Social Studies, we had a project where we had to write a book about the Middle East. When I got the project, I was thinking it was going to be just like a multi-page essay or something like that, but when I learned we were going to write the pages for a book and then it was going to be turned into a hardcover actual book, I was shocked. The book we had to write about had to have certain topics about the Middle East like water, oil, Persian Gulf War, etc. We also had to choose a certain format like a letter to the editor, top ten list, magazine article, or that sorta thing for each page. Here is what my book looks like (when it’s not in a book).

P.S. The pictures for the book are included in the gallery on the bottom of the article.



Water scarcity is a big problem in the Middle East. There is very little rainfall, there is a dry climate, and it is overused for agriculture . Some countries like Turkey and Iraq are lucky because they have two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, to use for their needs. But other countries like Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Syria have a small river to share or no river at all. Since those countries are working with oil, a spill could pollute the water. Pesticides used in farming leak in the run off and pollute the rivers as well. Not only is the water amount getting smaller every year, but the population is at about 400 million and growing ever so fast, so there will be less water to go around.

There are also some solutions to the problem like conservation, water treatment, or desalination, but most of those are expensive and people don’t like the idea of having used water.


Top Ten Countries in the Middle East with the Highest Population

1. Egypt : 84,605,000

2. Iran : 76,789,000

3. Turkey :76,081,000

4. Iraq : 35,404,000

5. Saudi Arabia : 30,193,000

6. Yemen : 25,252,000

7. Syria : 22,169,000

8.United Arab Emirates : 8,659,000

9. Israel : 8,047,000

10. Jordan : 6,517,000


                                                               Oil and OPEC

Dear Editor,

I have recently noticed that in your latest edition of your Middle East newspaper you failed to mention about oil and OPEC. I have collected some information for you to use in your next edition.

Oil is a common natural resource in the Middle East and is found mostly around the Persian Gulf in countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Iran. The oil found in these countries has made them more developed. Since oil is a resource needed all around the world, they can sell their oil and make money to help improve their health care, education, or infrastructure.

OPEC, or the organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, was made to regulate the amount of oil produced and the price it is sold at. Most of the countries around the Persian Gulf, like the ones mentioned before, are involved in OPEC.


Nicholas Kreitz


                         The Three Religions of the Middle East

                               Written By: Nicholas Kreitz

The Middle East is made up of lots of religions, but there are three main religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Judaism is based on the belief in one god, not many.  God spoke to Abraham and promised him Canaan, the “promised land”, if he told the people to worship only God, whom they call Yahweh. Abraham left this land to his second son, Isaac. Judaism’s holy city is Jerusalem and holy book is the Torah, part of the Old Testament. They pray in synagogues.

Islam is also based on the belief in one god. They call the god of Abraham the name Allah. People who practice Islam are called Muslims, and they believe that Allah chose Muhammad as his prophet. Islam’s holy city is Jerusalem and their holy book is called the Quran. They worships in mosques and they pray five times a day.

Christianity is also based on the belief in one god. Christians believe that Jesus, the son of God, lived on Earth, was crucified and then rose from the dead. Christianity’s holy city is also Jerusalem and their holy book is called the Bible, and includes both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They worship in churches.

These religions have many things in common, like the belief in one god and their holy city, but they also have differences. For example, where they worship, how they worship, the holidays they celebrate, their holy books, and their prophets.


                                     The Arab-Israeli Conflict 

Nick: Hello and welcome to Point-of-View News! Today I will be discussing the Arab-Israeli Conflict with my friends, Charles from Israel and Amir from Jordan. So, Charles, it says you are an expert on Israeli history. Tell me why exactly Israel was established.

Charles:  Well Nick, there were a few reasons Israel was established. One of them is that in the Jewish religion, Abraham promised his land to his son, Isaac, and the Jews thought the land was rightfully theirs, but the Muslims begged to differ. A group of Jews then started the Zionist Movement which was basically a reverse colonization of the Jews and that they should all move back to the “Holy Land”. Then the Holocaust happened and most of the world felt sympathy for the Jews and wanted to give them a homeland. The British had a mandate on the land the Jews wanted after the war. The British had promised this land to the Palestinians living there but still promised it to the Jews, and created the country of Israel.

Nick: Thank you Charles. Now Amir, tell me why this conflict is still going on today.

Amir: Sure thing! The conflict is still going on today because the Palestinians, who lived there before, are Muslims, and in Islam they believe the land belongs to Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, so the land is rightfully theirs. Since the Palestinians and the Jews, who currently live there, have different ideas, the conflict is everlasting.

Nick: Thank you Charles and Amir! That wraps up our special edition of Point-of-View News.


                                             Persian Gulf War

Host: Welcome to Waging War Trivia! Today our contestants will be asked questions about the Persian Gulf War. Okay! Contestant #1, what were three or more reasons that Saddam Hussein gave to start the war?

Contestant #1: Well, Saddam Hussein said that Kuwait was slant drilling into Iraq, Kuwait had passed OPEC production limits, Kuwait was part of Iraq during the mandate, and strangely enough he said he was angry because Kuwait wanted him to pay backed the money he owed.

Host: Correct! Contestant #2, name the two sides involved in this war.

Contestant #2: The two sides to this war were Iraq and a U.S.-led coalition of 29 other countries.

Host: Correct! Contestant #3, give a description of the two stages in this war and how the conflict ended, and for a bonus question, add why the U.S. was involved in this war.

Contestant #3: Well, the two stages were Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In Desert Shield, the U.S. Coalition built uq troops around Iraq to intimidate it. Desert Storm was when the Coalition launched all the air strikes and ground strikes into Iraq. The war ended with Iraq being forced out of Kuwait. For the bonus questions, people say that the U.S. got involved because they did not want their oil trade to cease and they wanted to protect Kuwait’s sovereignty.

Host: All correct. This has been an interesting night for Waging War Trivia, but it has ended in a tie. Until next time, I’m your host, Nick, and have a good night!


                              Operation Enduring Freedom Short Story

Hey kids, let me tell you a story about my days in the Army and Operation Enduring Freedom.

It all started when George Bush was in office. On September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda crashed two hijacked planes into the Twin Towers (left). We had intel that the Taliban, in Afghanistan, were harboring Al-Qaeda and their leader, Osama Bin Laden. Since Al-Qaeda had attacked the U.S. and we wanted to capture their leader, and also remove the Taliban from power, we thought we could hit two birds with one stone and invaded Afghanistan.

Now, kids, let’s get this straight — the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are pretty different people. The Taliban is a group of people that believe in harsh Sharia Law. They want to stay in Afghanistan so they can stay in power. The Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is a world-wide terrorist group, led by Osama Bin-Laden, that has killed many Americans.

Now you know about Operation Enduring Freedom. See you kids later this week!


                                              Operation Iraqi Freedom

Welcome back kids! Ready for another story? This one is about Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After the Persian Gulf War, Iraq was still an autocracy and was ruled by Saddam Hussein. The country was very stable, but only because everyone was scared of Saddam Hussein because he would kill his own people. The war was fought to remove Saddam Hussein from power and look for weapons of mass destruction. The reasons we invaded were that Saddam Hussein was gassing his own people, flying in the “no-fly” zones that were there to protect the Kurds and Shiites, and the U.S. had suspected that Iraq was making and selling selling weapons of mass destruction to Al-Qaeda.

The war started in March of 2003 and ended in 2009. After the war was fought and the U.S. Coalition won, they killed Saddam Hussein and tried to set up a more democratic government there.

That’s all for this week, kids!  See you later!


                                            Government Game Show

Host: Welcome to Name-That-Term! Today our topic is Government in the Middle East. Without further ado, let’s begin. What country is this? I am a country with one central government that holds power, but people are allowed to vote and have lots of personal and political freedoms.

Contestant #1: That country is Israel, and its government terms are Unitary and Democratic.

Host: Correct! What country is this? I am a country with one central government, and one person that holds all the power that goes by the title of King.

Contestant #2: That country is Saudi Arabia which is an absolute monarchy, but its government terms are Unitary, Autocratic.

Host: Correct! Okay, Contestant #3, you got the show. What country has a government based on religion, and says that people have the right to vote?

Contestant #3: That would be Iran. They are a Theocracy and Republic, or so they say.

Host: Correct! That ends our episode of Name-That-Term. See you next week!


                                              Economy Game Show

Host: Welcome back to Name-That-Term. Our topic today is economy. Let the games begin. Contestant #1, what economy am I? The government decides what to produce, how to produce, and for whom to produce. My economy also produces a product very efficiently to sell for other products.

Contestant #1: Those terms have got to be a Command Economy and Specialization!

Host: Correct! Contestant #2, what economy am I? Individual persons decide what to product, how to produce, and for whom to produce. My economy is also well rounded and self supporting.

Contestant #2: Those terms are Market Economy and Diversification.

Host: Correct! Alright Contestant #3, you get an easy one. Both government and individual persons decide what to produce, how to produce, and for whom to produce.

Contestant #3: Well, that’s a Mixed Economy!

Host: Absolutely correct! that brings an end to this episode of Name-That-Term. Until next time, I’m your host, Nick. Good night!







GHP State

Having completed the county level interviews and getting past that selection process, I was to go to Luella High school in the middle of nowhere, Georgia, in order to complete the state level interview. This is the interview that decides whether or not I am material for the GHP program. I got up very early in the morning to go to the event. My dad and I arrived at the school with 20 minutes to my “time.” Luella is a high school that is quite south of Alpharetta and past the airport. My first guess would be that they chose this school for the state interviews because they wanted to hold in them in middle of the state so that everyone who was chosen as a finalist could get to the interviews in the same amount of time. However, after looking at the location, which wasn’t even halfway to Macon from Atlanta, this seemed not to be the case. There were quite a lot of students there from certain clumps of the state, considering there were 6 students there competing for Latin from Fulton county alone. However, I discovered that the time as a very loose thing. We first entered a lobby where we were given instructions and directed to head to the cafeteria where the parents and students who had not gone yet were waiting. You were to wait for your interview time. However, my time had already been called when I got there so instead I headed straight down the hall and found the desk and lady who was administering the Latin interview selections. Continue reading