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.


Anonymous said...

You talked about binary? Maybe the judges are mathophobes.

LabFossil said...

Zapped iPod? Not uncommon at all. An MIT guy should know that! (grin). It's an electrical device with a microprocessor. It doesn't take much energy to flip a bit to the opposite state, and a static discharge has a LOT of energy by comparison. The bit that got flipped happened to be in the video circuitry. It's fortunate that it was just a soft failure, and not a damage-inducing event.

Have you done that experiment with a Van de Graaff generator, where a long chain of people holding hands get a bigger zap than just one? Each person acts as a capacitor, and each person is connected in parallel so the effect adds up. Sounds like the same sort of thing happened here.

Anonymous said...