April 26, 2007

My day at school

Well, today certainly was an exciting day at school, and I just so happened to have my camera! Here's the story. . .

My day started in Engineering. Basically, I showed up to class, said "HI!" to my partner, and then we grabbed our catapult and spent the next hour and a half shooting golf balls out at the baseball diamond. Long story short, it was a very good time. Here's our catapult, aka "The Scoop-a-pult"

We found a large brown foam thing that we used as a target, and we put it about 40 meters from our catapult. Try as we might, we COULD NOT get those golf balls to hit the brown thing. As you can see in this picture, they formed a perfect circle all the way around the brown thing, but not once did they hit it. Great accuracy, bad precision I guess.

My next class was band, which went swimmingly. I took a picture of my music, not much to tell after that:

Let's take a break now to talk about my school in general. This is my school:

This is my school's hallway:

Notice something? The squares on the ground match the wall they are closest to, and the lights on the ceiling are always above a square on the floor. Very feng shui, but then again, my school was built in the 70's.

My school has started to try to make me healthy by stocking the vending machines with health food. Not only that, they try to make me feel guilty about eating sugar by putting bags of gummi bears on the bottom row of the vending machine. . . . for $2.00. See!

And, let's see, what else? Oh, Sprague has murals all over the school. Here's a new one last year entitled "English Rocks"

Beautiful, eh? So, after band was lunch and then onto SKonline, which is basically a computer lab where you sit and take a course online that wouldn't fit into your schedule. It's a nice safety net for graduating seniors that need a credit in something, and I just so happened to need a credit in economics, so I'm taking sophomore economics online. w00t MIT! Here's our lab:

After that it was on to my next computer lab, CAD. In CAD I'm currently trying to draw a carousel horse. Not by my own will and volition, but because my teacher wanted to "Challenge me with something that isn't just geometric shapes", so I'm using Inventor to make a carousel horse. It's hard, very hard. You can see on the screen what I've got so far:

And since that was my last class of the day, school was over after that, until "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" FIRE ALARM! Great, with 2 minutes left in the day the fire alarm goes off. I file out of the room, through the woodshop, and out to the back parking lot with everybody else, but am distracting by an interesting scene on the way out. The woodshop teacher is out in the parking lot yelling at 4 kids. Let me preface this by saying that the woods teacher is awesome. He was yelling "Which of you did it?! I want to know now! Who was it? Who saw something? You were all in there when it got pulled!" That's about all I heard before I was forced back away from the building for safety reasons (psh). He yelled at the kids some more before they all went into the woodshop to discuss things. As the door opened for them to enter you could see the cop standing there and a bunch of security. This was good. Time to get out the camera and start filming. Although the video isn't great, because of the distance, you can see that the woods teacher and the cop come out of the woodshop with a kid and then the cop takes the kid away. BUSTED! It was exciting, as you can tell by my friends' reactions on the movie.

After the alarm we went back to class and a friend and I were discussing why somebody would pull a fire alarm with two minutes left in the day. We were also wondering who it was. Now, I'll change the name for anonymity's sake, but this is what soon followed.

[Woods teacher walks in, overhearing our conversation, starts yelling]
"Well it was a sophomore if that tells you anything!"
"Guess who! The biggest idiot in the school, stupid moron! Daniel Staks, biggest frickin' idiot I know. I hate that stupid kid, he's such a moron! What an idiot!"

His rant continued for quite some time, quite hilarious. I love watching teachers explode at students, it makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Alright, well now I have to go off to a robot competition. I'll try to take some pictures, should be interesting. Hope you enjoyed my exciting day, I know I did!

Graduation Gift Requests

So, this entry is half a joke, half serious. I don't expect you to actually purchase these objects for me, but if you feel the obligations to befriend me, suck up to me, or just be nice and get me a present, these are some things you could consider. I'd love you forever, these are my favorite gifts!

Mario Kart RC Car

Mario Keychains

Remote Control R2D2

Super Mario Mushroom Chair

Super Mario Sound Blocks

Plush Emoticons

Thinkgeek Advertising

Thinkgeek.com's new advertisement for their in-work target system.

Does that fridge come with a scope?

Just hope this never happens to you

Man, this would stink!

Oh, and there's a little bit of frustrated swearing at the end, sorry about that!

Click if you can't view the YouTube video below:

April 24, 2007

Lego Symphony

This is for all the Legos Geeks out there. Oh, and it's also amazing!

April 22, 2007

Bush and Blades

Good morning! I had an exciting night last night and I thought I'd share.

Actually, it was just your typical Saturday night for your average teenager. I went with a group of friends and listened to former first lady Barbara Bush speak at a fundraising reception and then saw Blades of Glory. Average, right?

Let's start from the beginning. 3 days ago in school I got called down to the office and told that I was going to listen to Barbara Bush speak about philanthropy. It was very sudden and really random, but they mentioned free food so I was all over it. Last night rolled around and I put my suit on and drove to the convention center. Sure enough, there were cops on every corner and 3 dark suburbans and a police car parked infront of the convention center. Yay for the secret service!

I checked in and hung out in the reception area, which is where I realized that I was very young compared to all of the adults. I was the only teenager because nobody else from school had shown up yet (I wasn't the only one invited, 25 kids from my school were). Eventually more people showed up and we were let into the main dining room, which was set up spectacularly.

They served us dinner next, and that was so good! Steak that you could cut with a butter knife and salmon that was very very good. Here's our table, 46, eating:

After listening to our Mayor and then Gerry Frank (he owns a great cake shop in town) the keynote speaker spoke, Barbara Bush. She was actually quite funny (even though she didn't write her own speech). Then came the dessert, baked Alaska. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

The dinner concluded, Barbara left, and then all teh Sprague kids hung out for a while. We decided to get our picture taken together, group shot!

After that we decided to catch a movie, and Blades of Glory was the winner. Ray, Fabi, Sarah, and I all went together to see it and met Sarah and Fabi's boyfriends there, so Ray and I decided to be a couple for the night.

Ignore everything you have ever heard about Blades of Glory not being funny. IT WAS HYSTERICAL! I never stopped laughing, it was amazing. Some of the computer effects were a bit obvious, but it was made up for by the sheer funny of it all. I give it two thumbs up.

So that was my night, mingling with high society and meeting former first ladies before going and seeing Will Ferrel ice skate. Great night, lots of fun, just pure straight fun.

April 19, 2007

MIT Matriculation

I got back from CPW at midnight between Sunday and Monday. I got a quick sleep in and then went to school. When I got home I finally sat down and filled out my matriculation paperwork for MIT. Matriculation basically means that I am agreeing to attend MIT officially. I finished up my paperwork and then set it on the counter in a stamped envelope to be mailed on Tuesday. It got mailed on Tuesday morning.

Today is Thursday. I checked the mail and saw this:

Kudos to the USPS! You delivered a letter to Massachusetts and a return letter back in 2 days! Mail in our PO Box is filed in the morning, so it didn't have any travel time on Thursday. So, the way I figure it is that it flew to MIT on Tuesday, was processed Wednesday morning, and then immediately shipped back and traveled to Oregon on Wednesday, arriving Wednesday evening and arriving in my hand on Thursday.

Does anybody else find this amazing?

Blog Entries Will Come!

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. It’s not that I’m not trying, it’s just that somewhow College Writing and Calc have started assigning a ton of hw, right when I left to go to MIT. Since I got home I’ve been uploading pictures, compressing pictures, sorting pictures, and working nonstop to get everything prepped for my blog of CPW. It’ll appear on a different blog, but I’ll link to it from here. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I hate to say this, but don’t expect a lot on this blog until after the 28th. I’m not slacking, I promise, I’m just working really hard on a bunch of things, so this is just going to take longer.

The CPW blog will be epic!

April 16, 2007

OK Facebook, stop screwing with me!

Alright, so remember how facebook deleted my account? If not read the last entry. Well, they fixed it shortly thereafter. Guess what happened again today (Monday)?!?!?!?!?! Until further notice, facebook is really making me angry and I can't participate in post-CPW stuff, sorry! I'll try to get this sorted out, but grrrrrrrrrrrrrr all the same.

April 11, 2007

Important Facebook Update

So here's the scoop. I was logged onto facebook late last night when I noticed that they'd restructured everything, which was cool. I logged out and went to bed. This morning at 3 AM I woke up and logged back in, or at least tried to. It said that as a new user I would have to confirm my e-mail address, so I did, which was when I realized that Facebook had completely wiped my account.

The following things are no longer in my profile:

  • Pictures
  • Notes
  • Groups
  • Wall posts
  • About Me stuff
  • My network
  • My profile picture
  • Friends
  • Anything else I haven't listed

I've sent an e-mail to Facebook tech support and haven't heard back yet. Sooooooo, if you try to do something to me in Facebook, just know that I'm not your friend anymore, not in a network, and have a blank profile.

This sucks.

April 10, 2007

A Whole Host of Goodies Before I Leave for Boston

I'm leaving tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 4 am) for Boston for MIT's Campus Preview Weekend (CPW). As such, I'd like to fill my blog with exciting goodies for you before I depart. Enjoy!

"Chariots of Fire" Music Video

Here's the official music video for Chariots of Fire. Notice that it's performed entirely by one person. He plays one instrument, records it, and then records himself on another instrument while listening to the previous recording. He plays all the parts, and the video does a nice job of showing him playing all the different instruments.

"Overture to Candide" Berlin Philharmonic Performance

Anybody who has played Overture to Candide can appreciate how amazingly fun it is, and anybody who hasn't can just check out the following video to get a feel. This is the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra's rendition, and it's flawless. My favorite part is at 3:20 when all the flutes and oboes totally get into it and then the camera pans out right when it all explodes. Totally amazing!

R2D2 Remote Control Action Figure

ThinkGeek.com has done it again, this time featuring a small remote controlled R2D2 action figure with a lightsaber controller.


Perfect Attendance Irony

You'll remember that I said I was going to be gone for CPW. That means I won't be at school this Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. That being said, let me share with you one of the essays I wrote to get into MIT.

No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think that additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond on separate sheets.

The year was 1995. My dad drug me into the living room and practically strapped me down to watch TV. I had no idea what was going on but my dad kept saying "You are about to see history -- just watch, you'll thank me later." I went on to watch, at the time quite unwillingly, some guy named Cal Ripken play a baseball game. Yay. Woo-hoo. "Does he have to hit a home run? Does he have to get on base? Does he have to get struck out? What does he have to do?" I remember asking. My dad's reply? "He just has to play." That didn't quite do it for me, but I shut up when I saw the fireworks and the ticker tape, because that was cool.

In the next several days I began to understand. Cal Ripken was so devoted to what he did that he played 14 seasons, 2,131 games, of baseball without missing a single game. Cal Ripken became my hero. "Ok," I said to myself, "if he can do it so can I!" So it began, my dad's five little words spurring me on "He just has to play."

School would be my baseball, and I would not miss a day, no matter what. It began in kindergarten and has continued ever since. Not one skip, not one injury has held me back. Four very angry orthodontic receptionists, some very stubborn moments, and enduring high school bubonic plagues, (some of which I may have started, on accident of course, since I couldn't miss school!) are all obstacles overcome and feats accomplished in my quest. I e-mailed Cal Ripken, telling him my story, asking if he'd be willing to write a letter to the admissions committee over at MIT. He responded that although he was absolutely amazed by my feat and admitted to having a less than stellar academic attendance record himself, he was unable to write the recommendation.

Reactions to my streak vary from "Freak" to "Wh- you mean- huh?!? Since kinderg- Wow." People ask me why I do it, which elicits even more entertaining reactions. I do it because it can be done. Because dedication isn't always recorded by short term
achievements. Because anybody can get a 150 on the AMC and a 15 on the AIME if they study long enough. Anybody can take 15 AP tests and get 5's on all of them, it just takes a little studying, that's it. What I set out to do shaped my entire academic career, 12 going on 13 years of work. That's dedication, and whenever it gets hard or I wonder why I do it, I just think back to those five words: "He just has to play." Dedication, endurance, and having something to believe in.

Dedication only leads to more success and I plan to keep the streak alive through college. Some people have difficulties dealing with the challenges of higher education, I plan to use those challenges to propel myself upward.

Inspiration leads to dedication, strive for excellence.


Are we seeing the irony? Perfect attendance got me into MIT but MIT destroyed my perfect attendance. Tomorrow will be the first day in 13 years that I've missed a day of school for something other than a required school field trip. 13 years of perfect attendance is over tomorrow, and it's sad.

"Yellow Submarine" Lego Music Video

'nuff said.

Thank God They've Finally Done It!!!

This is earth shattering news ladies and gentlemen. They have finally developed the perfect recipe for a bacon sandwich. Using scientific testing and large panels of taste testers scientists have developed not only the perfect recipe but also an equation that leads to the perfect sandwich. Here is the article and the recipe:

SCIENTISTS believe they have come up with a formula to create the perfect bacon buttie.

The two most important aspects are crispiness and crunchiness, according to a new study.

It revealed the crunching sound while eating rashers should ideally measure 0.5 decibels.

They should also break when 0.4 Newtons of force is applied through chewing, the researchers said.

Butties were tested using a high-tech computer that measures food texture, while panels of 50 volunteers judged the butties for taste, texture and flavour.

Four scientists at Leeds University spent more than 1,000 hours testing 700 variations of the traditional bacon buttie.

Variants included: different types and cuts of bacon (smoked, unsmoked, streaky, thick cut); cooking techniques (frying, grilling, oven cooking or microwaving); types of oil (sunflower, olive, vegetable); and a range of cooking times at different temperatures.

Dr Graham Clayton, who led the research team, said: "We often think that it's the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive.

"But our research proves that texture and sound is just, if not more, important."

British households spend more than £1bn on bacon every year and it remains the UK's most frequently eaten meat.

The Formula
N = C + {fb(cm) . fb(tc)} + fb(Ts) + fc . ta

N = force in Newtons required to break the cooked bacon.
fb = function of the bacon type.
fc = function of the condiment/filling effect.
Ts = serving temperature.
tc = cooking time.
ta = time or duration of application of condiment/filling.
cm = cooking method.
C = Newtons required to break uncooked bacon.

April 08, 2007

Easter and Speech Team

Let's start with Easter. I have a fun little Easter story for ya. 19 years ago my dad proposed to my mom, and he proposed on Easter. "I wanted to propose on a holiday so we'd always remember when I proposed!" My mom's response? "Um, honey, you do know that Easter changes every year, right?"


Ok, that being said, let's talk about speech team.

This last Saturday, 4/7/07, was speech team districts. I went in two events, expository speaking (8 minutes memorized, visuals, informative) and impromptu (Pick one of three topics, 30 second prep, 5 minute speech). Impromptu was kind of a cool deal because since I'd already gotten 1st or 2nd at two other tournaments all I had to do was compete and I automatically qualified for state. Expos (pronounced éx-pause) was a different story. There were 6 people at districts competing for 2 spots to state. A bunch of things happened at districts, some good, and some bad. We'll start with the bad so I can finish off with the good news. Here's the bad news. I've won three tournaments with my expos, which normally would automatically qualify me for state (just like impromptu), but due to some unfortunate circumstances, only one of those tournaments counted towards my state qualifying. Therefore, I had to qualify at districts. There were two rounds with two judges each. Each judge gives you a rank from 1st place to 6th place, and the two people with the lowest combined scores goes to state.

My first expos round went beautifully. I delivered my speech the best I had. Several of my teammates thought I'd gotten the two 1's from the first round. The second round was similar, the judges were really engaged in my speech and I performed it with no mistakes and very smoothly. I thought I was fine, I just needed to wait for awards. Awards came, and they anounced expos. I got third place. . . out of six. . . and didn't qualify for state, and I was MAD. I'd never come in third, ever, not even in a round, for the entire season. Then, after I'd delivered my best speech in state qualifiers, I got third place. Here are my ballots:

Ballot 1
Ballot 2
Ballot 3
Ballot 4

You'll notice that there was nothing negative mentioned, yet I kept getting third place! It's frustrating, I at least wanted a reason as to why I got third, but I got nothing but compliments. Here's what they say:
  • Humorous opening/interesting topic
  • Good hand gestures
  • Clear points w/ transitions
  • simple and effective use of visuals
  • Nice jacket
  • Nice speaking style
  • Good visual aids
  • Good gestures
  • Super Clever!
  • Very cool! This is the first time I have understood binary.
  • Intro engages audience
  • You do a great job breaking down a complex topic into understandable pieces
  • Great visual aids
  • Good use of humor
  • Pace and enunciation - excellent
If it was so good, why didn't I qualify?! I WANT REASONS! Overall, very unhappy. I still get to go to state in Impromptu, but that wasn't the event I was aiming for, so I'm still upset. LAME!

Now, for the happy/more exciting parts of districts.

The Wall Talkers
We were all settled in to the commons area when another speech team arrived. 30 seconds later I looked up and glanced down a hallway. Now, it's not uncommon to see a person or two talking to a wall at speech tournaments because that's how a lot of people practice. For some reason, this particular scene struck me as entertaining. All down the hallway were people talking to walls. I quick whipped out the camera phone so that I could share the scene with yall. Here it is:

See! Wall talkers!

Ok, this wasn't fun, but it was interesting and slightly crazy. Here's the story, I had my iPod nano hooked up to some speakers so that we could all listen. The song we were listening to was about to end, so I reached over to change it. Right as my finger was about a millimeter away from the iPod, somebody tapped me on the shoulder and shocked me. It was a big shock, apparently big enough to shock my right shoulder, travel through my body and exit out of my left finger. . . into my iPod. The speakers made a huge crackling noise and the iPod just stopped playing music. The next thing I notice is the screen. This is what the screen looked like before the shock:

This is what it looked like after the shock:

Notice that the screen a) is lighter b) has developed a split personality. On the left was the song it was playing before it was zapped. On the right was the main menu, which you could still scroll through, but was utterly useless because you couldn't see the writing on the left!

Nobody could believe what had happened, we were all stunned. Everybody was laughing, even me, only my laugh was a bit more concerned because I thought my iPod was toast. Who would have ever thought that a simple shock from somebody's finger could travel from one arm, through my body, and out my other arm into my iPod, screwing it up that badly?! It's almost impossible! Luckily, after I reset it (held Menu and the center button) it returned to normal. Crisis neutralized.

Fácil Button
We've all seen the commercials with the Staples "Easy Button", yes? Well, in one of the classrooms where people were giving speeches was one such button, sitting on a desk, except it was a little bit different. It was in spanish! It was a Fácil Button! I didn't get a picture of it, but I did find a picture of it online. This is exactly what it looked like:

Isn't that awesome?! We were all very fascinated by it.

Chariots of Fire
Ok, last story from speech team. We were listening to my iPod and people discovered that I had "Chariots of Fire" on it, so we played it. Now, no matter what it is, if it's in slow motion and there's Chariots of Fire music playing, it automatically becomes really cool. Sooooooo, we of course, started doing stuff in slow motion. Truman grabbed a piece of pizza and ate it in slow motion, shaking his fist in slow motion in the air in celebration of his Italian delicacy. Then he started combing his hair in slow motion while other people were cheering and hugging in slo-mo. All in all, very fun, and recommended. Just, you know, get a group of friends together and do stuff in slow motion with Chariots of Fire in the background.

MIT has blogs that the admissions staff write in, in order to give prospective students a better feel for what MIT is like. The people that write these blogs are the people that choose who gets in. That being said, I'd like to refer you to the following entry:


Yes, the staff dreams about me. Hm.

April 06, 2007

We've Got a Catapult in the Works

So our engineering project is to design and build catapult. This is our catapult in the works. Nothing is screwed or secured, but this is the rough shape. Surgical tubing will be stretched between the towers and the swing arm will be pulled back against the tubing. Our little pulley thing will be used to pull down the swing-arm. I don't feel like typing a whole lot more, just because I'm lazy and I hurt one of my fingers, sorry. Enjoy the picture!

April 04, 2007

Frustrating Boat Store Visit

Alright, so here's the story. Today after school Dylan and I went shopping for materials to build our massive catapult. Our first stop was Lowes which is where we picked up the lumber. The next stop was Ace Hardware where we got the surgical tubing. The last stop was a boat store. I personally was kind of excited because I'd never been to a boat store.

We were looking for some type of ratched or gear that would allow us to pull the catapult's arm down without having to push it down. We were thinking along the lines of a ratched with a crank so we could just spin a crank and have it reel in a cord, pulling down the catapult arm. We knew boats had these, so we went to the boat store. We wandered around for a little bit before we saw a guy that worked there. When I approached him I realized that I very well could die of lung cancer then and there because he was saturated with the smell of cigarette smoke. I, no joke, almost coughed just because of the smell. We described what we wanted and he then, with customer service obviously at the forefront of his mind, replied "I'll sell you the crank for the hull of your boat." Well, we didn't have a boat, so we described what we were going to use it for and he glared at us and walked over to the crank, which was too big. I asked "Do you have smaller cranks?" to which he said, quite curtly and in a What are you, stupid? tone "No, this is as small as you'd ever want one."

Ok, this guy was a moron. So, I tried a different approach. "Ok," I said, "How about pulleys? I'm looking for something that's like a pulley. Something you can pull the rope through but it can only go one direction, it gets caught or stopped when it tries to slip back the other direction. Do you have anything like that?" As I'm asking he's just frowning at me and shaking his head, giving me cancer. "No, I have no idea what you're talking about."

I had seen a nifty little gizmo earlier that I thought might work, but I wanted to make sure it was what I thought what it was. Here's what it looked like:

I wanted to make sure it was what I thought it was, so after telling me that there was no such thing as a one-way pulley, I asked "Could you please describe what a product does for me?" He glared and said "What?" I walked over to this gizmo and asked "What does this do?" to which he replied, no joke:

"Oh, this! It's like a pulley, see the roller? You pull the rope through and then it catches in these ridges so that it can't slip back through."

I almost lunged at him, it was one of the most boneheaded things I'd ever seen. I wanted to scream "DO YOU REALIZE THAT YOU JUST REPEATED WORD FOR WORD WHAT I ASKED? YOU SAID THAT IT DIDN'T EXIST!!!!" I just said "Oh, that'll work."

So then I check the price tag and almost died. How much do you think it is? Keep in mind, it's two inches long. It's not big at all, and quite lightweight. I was thinking $5.00 at the most. The actual retail value? $15.60, for a piece of metal with a roller on it. RIDICULOUS! But we needed it, which was the sad part, so we ended up buying it, but not before complaining loudly and getting the price knocked down to $15.00 even. It was crazy, I couldn't believe it.

So, now, I hate boat stores.

How does this happen?!

Alright, here's a little contest for you. In 50 words or less, in the comments of course, remark on this picture. Here's my observation:

How drunk do you have to be to not stop when you hit the garage door, the red car, or the ceiling? The only thing that stopped this truck is the fact that his wheels aren't on the ground anymore, otherwise he'd still be moving forward! Oh, and he's missing a tail light.

April 02, 2007


So what do you do if you're at a horse race and have access to the track right by the finish line?

What do you do if you do if you know they take pictures of the finish line after each race and publish each photo?

What do you do if you missed the first race?

On March 24th in Australia a man stood by the finish line of 5 consecutive horse races knowing full well that he was going to be photographed at the end of each race. He did one part of the YMCA dance for each picture, resulting in the complete sequence of the song by the end of the fifth photo.

Click here for the official photo (1.04 mb PDF)

This guy is my hero!






April 01, 2007


This is how sad my life is. I've spent the last 6 years trying to figure out how I could possibly get broadband speed internet. We've tried DSL, Cable, Sattelite, and even fringe special types of fast internet, but all of them were either too expensive or not accesible. It's just not possible to get fast internet at my house, and it sucks.

Today, when I logged onto Google I noticed something called TiSP (note, that link will only work for one day), which is basically in-home broadband internet. I'm no fool, so I knew this was a prank (just check out the date) but I was intrigued by their joke, so I read about it. Apparently they "developed" a system whereas you flush a fiberoptic cable down your toilet and it is eventually caught by technicians and plugged into a server. You are then plugged into the world of fast internet.

It's actually a pretty novel idea, but as you can probably guess, a little unfeasible. For a bit I was quite depressed. If this was possible then I'd be able to get broadband! Then I thought about it for a little and realized that I was doomed to slow internet forever. I have a septic field, meaning that my toilet flushes straight into my field, meaning I CAN'T EVEN GET FAKE BROADBAND SPEED INTERNET! I hate life.