Saturday, June 29, 2013

Post-Presentation Stuff (DIY Post #19)

I bought 2 of these fans! :)
Today I bought 2 $25 fans with the $50 we got from Home Depot. They will hopefully help keep us cool in the team room so that we don't die of heat exhaustion in there. Our hope is that it will improve the ventilation. I gave the fans to Connor so that he can set them up in the team room. And our project is officially over! :) This is officially my last DIY post!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Judgment Day (DIY Post #18)

We got 100%!! :)
Today we gave our presentation, and it went surprisingly well. As with everything else, there was one unforeseen problem that arose, but other than that all went well. At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Ziebarth loaded our video on youtube, but it refused to play. So we talked a little bit and improvised as I tried to get the video to work on Mr. Ziebarth's computer. It finally did, and the rest of our presentation went on without any more bumps. Although there was some criticism of our presentation, for the most part it went very well. You can view the youtube video of our presentation pictures here:

During lunch, I went into Mr. Z's classroom to see what our grade was. He gave me the small slip of paper, and it said that we had gotten 100%!! I was so excited, and I told Makenna and Connor right away. Makenna told our coach, and everyone was really happy. I couldn't believe the success of our project! Not only had we helped out the swim team, but we had managed to get a perfect score on our English project as well! It was truly a satisfying day. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prepping for the Presentation (DIY Post #17)

Yesterday Makenna's boyfriend Daniel helped us with the team room. He bought us some more double sided tape for the picture frames (using Adrian's money), and helped us put up the remainder of the picture frames. He also helped us paint the door. We put the couch covers over the sofas, and they look much more presentable. Connor and I also scraped the remainder of the blue paint off of the windows. We also borrowed a vacuum from the janitors, and cleaned up the ground. The end result was surprisingly really good. 
Testimonial video

We finished the team room by the end of 6th period on Wednesday, and a lot of our teammates came into the room shocked. They were stunned by the complete transformation of the team room, and we decided we would record their testimonials for the presentation the next day. The senior boys loved the team room and relaxed on the couches before their senior luau. 

Panoramic view of the completed team room :)
Just earlier, Makenna, Connor and I were all on Google Hangouts so that we could figure out what we were going to do for our presentation. I compiled all of the pictures and videos into iMovie.

We were going to speak while the pictures played in the background. After a bit of fiddling around - deleting some pictures, and figuring out what we actually wanted to say, we are ready for our presentation tomorrow.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Hard Core Work: Day 3 (DIY Post #16)

Picture frames
More picture frames
Picture frames, picture frames, and more picture frames. Our last main task was to get the picture frames up onto the wall. Previously, Makenna had painted all of the frames black, so that they would match the wall color better. We started sticking them up with thick double sided tape, as well as hanging them off of nails to ensure that they would stay on the wall. It was hard, tedious work putting all of that tape on the frames, and then sticking/nailing them to the wall. And by the end of the day, we still hadn't finished putting up all of the pictures, so it looks like we'll have to do some last minute work next week before the presentation.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hard Core Work: Day 2 (DIY Post #15)

Navy Blue Curtains
the beginnings of the
shelf that holds the
projector up
I visited Caltech today! And when I came back to school, Connor & Makenna as well as a few water polo guys were helping get the curtains up. We got the curtains up, and they looked surprisingly good. Then Makenna had to leave, so Connor and I worked on getting the shelf back up. It took an annoyingly long time, and we were working until like 4 because Connor drilled the wrong screws into the wall - they were too small, so when we tested the shelf, it fell off the wall. The second time, luckily was a lot easier. And we finally got the shelf up. Coach Eric (the water polo coach) was laughing at the attempt. While we were working, the coach got a hammer and fixed the nail in the white board that Connor had messed up. The room is starting to look a lot better now, and our hard work is finally paying off.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hard Core Construction: Day 1 (DIY Post #14)

I texted my coach to ask him if we could work on the team room during 6th period this week. Unfortunately, he said we couldn't because we need to spend more time with the team. However, we were allowed to work after 6th because the water polo coach Eric stayed after and supervised us.

Our main goal for today was to get the whiteboard back up onto the wall, and it was a good thing that we only had one thing on our list because it took forever. As soon as we finished practice, me, Makenna, and Jaden Todd went to work on putting the white board back up. Unfortunately it would take at least another hour for us to complete the seemingly simple task that we had set before us...

As we struggled to drill the holes in the right spot, water polo practice finished, so a bunch of polo players rushed in, eager to criticize/help. After a lot of time and frustration, we had 3 holes in the wall where the white board was precariously hanging from. Coach Eric came in to watch us, and he was highly amused to see us struggle. Finally, after it seemed like it the task would be impossible to do correctly (the whiteboard looked extremely crooked), he suggested that we "cheat." By cheating, he meant hammering the screws into the wall instead of using a power drill. I got 3 hammers out and me, Connor, and Dalton started hammering the screws into the wall. Dalton's and mine turned out perfectly fine, but Connor's was completely crooked.

However, the board is now on the wall, and definitely does not look as crooked as it used to. Tomorrow I'm going to be at Caltech, so I'm not sure how much work will be left when I come back to school, but we're gonna try and get the curtains up.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping (DIY Post #13)

Flooring options @ Home Depot
This weekend Makenna was out of town doing stuff, so she left me and Connor to do the shopping for the curtains and other things we needed to finish the room. So first went to Home Depot to give the assistant store manager Christina the newly procured letter from Mr. Herzfeld's secretary. After looking around at more flooring options and baseboards, we decided on which ones we wanted, and went to give her the letter. After waiting for about 15 minutes, we made she came back with 2 $25 coupons for us to use for our project. Unfortunately, that was nowhere near enough to pay for new flooring, so we had to explore different options.
$25 coupons from Home Depot

Next we went to Big Lots to get some curtains and rods for the windows in the team room. We picked out a dark navy blue for the curtains, and some black rods. However, the customer service at Big Lots wasn't that great, so we were glad to get out of there fast. We purchased the curtain stuff, and then proceeded to head home when I realized that we had forgotten to get 2 curtain rods. Neither of us had more time that day, so we decided to meet again today (Memorial Day) to head to Big Lots again, and get another curtain rod. So we went there, and got it, and then we were done for the weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Race For Approval - Take 2 (DIY Post #12)

the non-profit letter
A little over a week ago, Makenna and I went to see Mr. Herzfeld to ask him for the non-profit letter that Home Depot requires for us to get grants. After about half an hour, we finally got to speak with him, and he said he would do it for us. However, he said that since it's a DIY project, he thought that we should write the letter, and then he would put it on the official letterhead, and sign it. 

So we quickly wrote the letter, with a lot of help from Makenna's grandfather, and sent it to him within two days of our last conversation. However, it had now been a week, and we still didn't have the letter. After both days of STAR testing, we tried to see the principal's secretary, but both the principal and his secretary were never there, until today. 

This morning Makenna and I finally got the chance to talk to the secretary during Mr. Z's class, but she didn't even hear about our email or what we were trying to accomplish. Fortunately she still gave us a standard letter stating that the school is a non-profit organization. But we didn't get the tax exemption number because apparently the school never gives that information out. During lunch I found Mr. Herzfeld, and talked to him about it, and he said he wanted to help us out, but I told him that we already had what we needed, and thanked him for his time. 

Now that we have the letter, we can actually try and get some financial help from the Home Depot employees. This weekend Makenna will be on vacation, so Connor and I will go to Home Depot to try and procure some sponsorships, as well as Big Lots to get some curtains and rods.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Everything Comes With a Price (DIY Post #11)

APs are here! Last week as well as this week were surprisingly really relaxing for me, since I only had to worry about AP testing. I was barely at school due to CIFs for swimming and AP tests last week, but I had loads of time.

This weekend, before the Mother's Day barbecue at my house, Connor and I went to Home Depot to figure out the flooring situation of the team room. We needed to figure out what type of flooring we wanted to get as well as how much it cost. In addition, we also wanted to find out if Home Depot could sponsor us, and at least pay for some of the cost. The staff was really helpful, and one of the employees helped talk us through the ideal flooring for the room. However, it would cost around $300-$350, which was way beyond our minuscule budget.

I asked him about a potential sponsorship, and he was extremely happy I asked. He said that Home Depot is really big on giving back to the community, and that we should talk to the store manager. Since the store manager wasn't there, we talked to the assistant store manager who gave us some options: 1) we ask for a letter from the principal showing our school's non-profit status so that we could get some $25 coupons from the store or 2) fill out a bunch of paperwork and forms online to get a sponsorship from Home Depot [which would take forever]. We decided to keep our options open, and just try and get the letter from Mr. Herzfeld.

So this week our goal will be to secure the letter from Mr. Herzfeld, and try and get a sponsorship from Home Depot while performing our best on our AP tests.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Time to Paint! (DIY Post #10)

This week we finally set out to finish what we started last week: painting the room. Before we started painting, we had to move out a few things, including a bike (we had no idea whose it was), and there were still a few more holes that Makenna spackled, and I sanded, but that didn't take too much time. I would definitely say that this was the most fun we've had with this project because it wasn't terribly tiring or boring.

It was my first experience painting anything. I had never done anything like this before at my house, so it was really entertaining and exciting for me. The room looked amazing the paint dried, and all of us looked funny because we were in old clothes with paint all over us. My family and some of my church friends came to see the newly painted walls, and they all loved it. Then we closed everything up and went home.

However, about an hour later, while I was at Banzai Bowls, I realized that we had forgotten to turn off the lights, and put the bike back into the room so I called Connor and asked him if he could go back. I told Makenna about it too, and then she realized that she couldn't find the key that locked the gate. A few hours later I found that Connor hadn't been able to make it back to the team room to turn off the lights and put away the bike. Because of this, Makenna and I decided to go back. We were hoping that the gate was still open, because there were people instructing a kids swimming class when we left, but we had no such luck.

The only alternative was for me to jump the fence, to get on deck and do what I had to do. So I did just that. I jumped the fence. It was much more exhilarating as well as a lot easier than I was expecting. I made it over, and turned off the light, then climbed back over. Then, when I was about halfway back to the car, I realized that I had forgotten to put the bike back in. So I ran back, climbed the fence again, put the bike back into the room, and then climbed over the fence for the last time.

About an hour later, Makenna texted me that she had found the key, and the weekend ended in relief.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Unforeseen Challenges (DIY Post #9)

There were so many holes in the wall!
Yesterday we finally started the actual construction work of our project. Our goal was to get everything off the walls, repair the holes in the walls with spackle, sand the holes, and then paint. However, everything did not go according to plan. We found some time-consuming obstacles blocking our way to our ultimate goal: painting the room.

Connor and Makenna arrived at the pool deck about an hour before I did because I had to go to my club swim practice. When I got there, Connor was still trying to take some things off the walls and Makenna had started spackling the walls, but they were nowhere near done with the pre-painting work.  It had taken Connor half an hour just to take off one small bulletin board because of the strange way it was nailed into the wall. They had discovered that not only were the picture frames nailed into the wall, but they were also taped to the wall. So when I got there, I quickly got to work scraping off the paint, and sanding down the spackle while Makenna continued spackling the walls, and Connor worked on the last particularly stubborn screw that held the whiteboard to the wall.

The stubborn whiteboard that didn't want to come off the
wall. You can see the hole we made at the top - the white
stuff is the spackle we used to fill the hole. 
After working on the same nail for awhile, Connor finally stopped, and took a little break. I decided to go up there and give it a try by using the crowbar and brute force. At that point, we didn't care if we made a big hole in the wall - we just wanted to get that whiteboard off the wall. I pushed on that crowbar with all my might, and suddenly, the whiteboard started jiggling. Makenna kept wiggling the whiteboard, and the screw came out a little more. Then, Makenna switched the orientation of the crowbar, and I used all of my strength to use the crowbar as a lever to propel the screw out of the wall. Finally, after much exertion, the screw came out of the wall, and we emerged victorious and triumphant. But there was now a huge hole in the wall that we would have to spackle. We kept working - patching up holes, unscrewing things from the walls, and sanding down the newly patched up holes, but we realized that there would not be enough time to paint.

After patching up all of the holes we decided to call it a day and paint next week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Race for Approval (DIY Post #8)

The team room was disgusting
after the swim meet.
After our dual meet against Edison on Tuesday (our varsity girls beat Edison for the first time since 1997), the team room was completely trashed - and served as a push for us to take action, and start construction on it.

Since we bought the paint last weekend, our goal for the next weekend was to paint the team room. However, in order for this to happen, we needed to get the approval of Mrs. Lawler, the aquatics director at our school. I talked to her about the project about a month ago, and she thought that it was an excellent idea, but that we just had to make sure our paint was approved by her.
There was trash everywhere!

Unfortunately we didn't think to contact her after we bought the paint until I remembered Wednesday afternoon. I sent her an email asking what we would need to do to get the paint approved. Through a series of emails, I discovered that we actually needed the approval of the FVHS maintenance guy. However with both Mrs. Lawler's and the maintenance guy's busy schedules, it was unclear whether or not we would be able to get an appointment with both of them together before Saturday.
Because of this, I decided to stop by Mrs. Lawler's room on Friday morning and ask what the name of the maintenance guy was, and where we would be able to find him. We found out his name was Lloyd Chesmore, and we set out to look for him. Since he wasn't where Mrs. Lawler said he would be, we asked our school's activities director - Mr. Fraser where we could find him. He was able to page him on another maintenance guy's walkie-talkie, and we were able to get into contact with him. Mr. Chesmore told us that we didn't need anybody's approval for anything regarding the team room because the swim team paid for them originally. This basically gave us the "all-clear" to do whatever we wanted to the team room this weekend.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Process of Purchasing the Paint (DIY Post #7)

Color-Adding Machine
Since I was in Germany for the last 2 weeks, we didn't get a chance to work on the project until this weekend. So yesterday we decided to meet at Home Depot and purchase the paint as well as any other supplies we would need.

Paint Mixer
None of us had purchased paint before, so we spent the first few minutes looking for Glidden's Pool Party Blue - to no avail. So instead of spending more time looking for the color, I decided to ask one of the employees. She said that we would not have been able to find that color, because they had to make it for us. With that, she asked us what color we wanted, and then what type of sheen we wanted the paint to be. We were completely unprepared for that question because we didn't know there were different types of sheen for the paint. The incredibly helpful lady helped us make our decision, and said she would make it right away. 

As we were waiting for her to get started on making our paint, we quickly found some spackle that we would have to use to repair the numerous holes in the walls in the team room. Then she began making our paint color. Through numerous machines, the employee transformed a can of white paint to our Pool Party Blue color. The process seemed really cool, and it was interesting to see the different steps required to transform the white paint. The whole time the paint was in the machines, the lady chatted with us about her experiences in the paint department, and before we knew it, the paint was ready. 

Our final challenge was to checkout the paint. We scanned our 3 items at the self-checkout area, and after a few attempts (Connor forgot the pin number to his debit card, so I paid in cash), figured out how to pay what was due. We split the cost 3-way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Picking the Paint (DIY Post #6)

the paint section at Home Depot
This morning I went to Applebee's to work a fundraiser for the FVHS swim team. As the hostess I got to talk to welcome all of the families to the restaurant, and thank them for their contributions. Soon after, I went to practice, and then the three of us - Makenna, Connor, and I went to lunch at Souplantation.

some of the many different colors
there were to choose from
After a busy morning, we headed over to Home Depot to pick out the paint color for the walls of our team room. When we got there, we realized that there were a ton of different colors to choose from - different shades, different sheens, and many other aspects of paint that we had never even heard of. We decided on a color called "Pool Party Blue," a product of the Glidden Paint Company. However, we didn't purchase anything because we weren't sure if the paint would be approved by the school.

I leave for Germany tomorrow, and I will be there for the next 10 days, so we won't be able to work on the project until I come back. Once all of us are back in town, we will purchase the paint and begin construction on the room.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pitching the Project (DIY Post #5)

This week we had to work on presenting our project. While most of the groups presented on Friday, my group is going to have to present on Monday because Makenna, Connor and I were in Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday for a swim meet. Since our presentation is only supposed to be 2 minutes long, we are planning on mainly improvising everything with some visuals playing in the background.

Originally our plan was to make a video that included our coaches, and quick interviews of our teammates to tell everyone the current terrible state of the team room. However, we did not have any time in Santa Barbara to record it, so we decided that we would just stand up in front of the class and give our presentation.

I was in charge of making the Google Presentation for the project, and I compiled a few pictures of the team room to put into the presentation. Each of us are going to speak about two slides.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Change of Plans (DIY Post #4)

If we're not going to replace the carpet,
we have to at least clean it.
This week my group decided that it wasn't going to be feasible to completely rip out the carpet of our team room. It would take too much time and resources for us to complete by the end of the school year - especially with all of our busy schedules.

Makenna and I decided that it would be better if we just steam cleaned the carpet so that it would be clean and sanitary. We are planning on doing it sometime in the next month - depending on how much time we will need and how much time we will have. We will need to create a schedule with deadlines so that we know what we have to accomplish by the given dates.

This week marked the beginning of our competition period of swim season, so we will have at least one swim meet per week from now until the second week in May. The varsity girls team crushed the Wilson girls by 20 points, and we claimed our first victory of the season. The next few months will be a busy time for all of us - with swimming, school, and AP tests to deal with, so hopefully we will have enough time to work on our DIY project.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Taking Stats (DIY Post #3)

The stuffing falling out
of the couches.
The gross carpet
Yesterday, my group began laying out a more organized plan of what we were going to try and accomplish. One of the goals that we set out to do was try and figure out how we can redo the flooring of the team room. As we did some research on different flooring, we found that our options were limited, and began to question whether it was even feasible to rip out and replace the current carpet. It became clear that we were going to have to spend at least a couple hundred dollars on just the flooring. Taking that into consideration, we considered our options - fundraising & donations.
More stuffing oozing out of the couches.

More measuring
One dilapidated couch
However, another problem presented itself. We didn't know how many square feet the team room actually was, so Connor and I measured it today during our annual pentathlon. We found that it was about 16.5' by 15.25'. Based on that, we now know that our team room is 251.625 square feet - even bigger than we expected. Now that we have the measurements, we can figure out whether it's financially feasible to redo the carpeting.

I also took time today to document the way the team room currently looks in the form of pictures so that we could show "before" and "after" pictures of the room. It was the first time I had actually gone into the room and closely looked at all of its flaws. The stuffing falling out of the sofas looked really disgusting - even though it was just stuffing.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jumping the Hurdle of Approval (DIY Post #2)

And so the DIY project begins...

Our curtain-less windows
So this week my job was to get the approval of a few different people for permission to do the project. I talked with the athletics director Mrs. Lawler, and she was delighted with the idea - especially after I told her the current state and condition of our team room. She said that I had her permission as long as Coach Nichols was okay with it, and suggested that we make an outline of our plans for the room, and show it to her. The only thing we would need to tell her about is if we decide to repaint the team room - she has to approve of the paint that we use because of school regulations.

Another curtain-less window
The second person I talked to was the girls water polo coach - Kaileigh. She, too, was very happy and supportive of the project. Since she is the coach of one of the 3 teams that share our aquatics team room, I asked her if she wanted anything specific to be done to the room. She only had a few requests: curtains for the windows as well as the removal of the entertainment systems (TV & game systems), or a storage area for them where they wouldn't be seen. One of my water polo friends - Merri Lightbody suggested that we secure the white board to the wall better because it currently flaps around every time someone writes on it.

The input that I received from them will contribute to the end product, and hopefully we will be able to satisfy the needs of all of the coaches and swimmers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DIY Project Intro

The middle room in the shed is our team room.
From now on, this blog will be dedicated to my group's new assignment for the semester: the DIY (do it yourself) project. Mr. Z instructed us to "make something." Makenna DuBois, a fellow swimmer, had the brilliant idea of redoing the school's team room. This idea was exceptional because not only would we be completing our project, but we would make an impact on our school. Over the course of the next few months, we are going to remodel our swim/water polo team room on the pool deck.

Currently the team room is a disgustingly dirty shed, with nails sticking out and stuffing oozing out of the furniture. I never go in there because I have always thought that it was extremely gross and unsanitary. We are going to remedy this, and transform the entire room into a place where the team can relax and enjoy its comforts. Some of our main goals include replacing the filthy towels we use to cover the windows with actual curtains. We are also planning on putting in a better TV and mounting a projector for the coaches' uses.

To start off the process, we have to talk to a few people, to get permission to make the drastic changes, and to make sure that our project is feasible. We have already talked to swim's head coach Mike Nichols, and have his approval for the undertaking. My job is to talk to Mrs. Lawler, the activities director, and make sure we have her approval for the project as well.

I will try to post in this blog weekly to update the status of our project.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lightning Assault

Title Screen
Three years ago my mom's cousin Timothy Chua began programming an iPhone app. The end product finally reached the App Store in early December 2012, and is now available for 99 cents.

Last year, Timo finally finished enough of the game so that he could let people beta test it, and I was part of the beta team. It was really cool being able to play a game that no one else in the world had played, and that my feedback would actually be taken into consideration to make it better. After years of hard work, the Lightning Assault was finally released in the App Store, and I was able to enjoy the final product on my brand new iPhone 5.

Weapons Room
Launch Pad
Lightning Assault is an intense, dogfight game. You pilot your own aircraft, armed with five different types of upgradable weapons and shoot down all of the UFOs and mother ships in order to pass each level. The graphics are amazing in this game, and for every five levels that you advance, you move to a different location on the world map - giving you an entirely new aerial view.

World Map
Although normally I don't play these types of "dogfight" games, this one really caught my attention - not only because my close relative made it, but because it was actually pretty interesting, and a game that kept me hooked. As I advanced in the leaderboards on Game Center, I became more and more determined to rise in the ranks, and now I'm #4 in the world.

I would highly recommend people to check this game out, and see what it's like. I decided against downloading many games onto my phone, and this was one of the few games that I felt was worth putting onto my phone. Here's the link to download the app on iTunes:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Art of Not Studying

Finals are coming! Finals are coming! The more I see people studying, the more I feel like finals are like the redcoats, coming to attack us and that studying is like arming for battle. For many people, finals week is like the Revolutionary War. People are completely consumed in studying/cramming for finals. I don't see the sense in studying so much in such a short amount of time. Why put the strain of a whole semester's worth of material onto your brain the day before the test? It will cause an information overload that will make your brain explode like a hydrogen bomb.

I hate studying. So I just don't study. I focus on other things like swimming, playing the piano, and getting enough sleep. However, since I want to avoid studying at all costs, there are three important things that I do proactively, on a day-to-day basis, that allow me to not have to study: stay awake in class, do my homework, and get enough sleep.

Staying awake in class and paying attention allows me to absorb all of the information given to me throughout the school day. It goes into my brain and is stored there semi-permanently, especially because of all the repetitions and reinforcements we get in class. Doing my homework positively supplements everything I did in class, and often permanently engraves the material I learned that day into my long-term memory. In my life, I feel as if it has been statistically proven that getting an extra two hours of sleep rather than getting an extra two hours of studying has been way more beneficial to my grades. Sleep is the key to success, as mentioned in my previous post: A Science to Sleeping. Without enough sleep, your body does not perform at its optimal conditions - so make sure you get enough sleep before finals. For me, a good night's sleep is much more important than pulling an all-nighter of studying.

For those of you who don't have exceptionally gifted memories and don't absorb information like sponges, I suggest you review a little bit each night so that you don't have to relearn everything the night before the finals. Learning a little bit each day will help you in the long run. And you will find that eliminating studying from your life is pretty amazing.