Sunday, November 16, 2014

Alex Turns 14 - A Year In Retrospect

Song:  Under The Bridge

Group:  Red Hot Chili Peppers

I had picked this song because it represents Alex's progress in life...
not through the verses...
but through the music.

The initial steady beat represents Alex's rock steady drive
as expressed in his steady study habits.

When the chorus kicks in...
 the rhythm guitar and drums pick up and drive you steadily forward...
and the bass guitar just starts positively driving and jamming away...
it takes you on a flight through a sky filled with unlimited freedom and hope...
and with each cloud I overfly on this imaginary flight of fancy
representing Alex's continual conquering of challenges...
unimpeded by fear or fatigue...
it just so perfectly fits Alex's 13th year of life...
and brings in the start of Alex's 14th year.

(Alex on his birthday, at his computer, typing away on his latest novel)

Alex is now 14 years old.

I had asked Alex what he wanted to do for his birthday...
and I had asked him if he had any material desires
(he couldn't think of anything that he especially wanted...
so we gave him a rain check for something he may desire in the future).

I told him that we could go to Mammoth Mountain to see the views...
or to Heavenly Valley to see the views from atop the observation platform...
or any other place he desired for a day trip.

He said that he didn't wish to go anywhere...
and that most of all...
he just wished to have a free day all to himself to do what he most desired.

We, of course, said yes.

We asked him what he wished to do for his free day.
He said what he wanted to do most was to just have the whole day
to work on one of his novels.

Alex loves creative writing.

So, all day long on his birthday...
Alex sat happily at his computer
and typed away to his heart's content.

The night before his birthday...
we stopped by a cake specialty shop to get Alex's favorite cakes.

They specialize in highly moist and delicious Bundt cakes and cupcakes here.

Alex picked a variety of flavors to savor for his birthday:

Chocolate Chip

 White Chocolate

Pecan Praline

Red Velvet

Alex will be eating one of these a day...for the next four days.

(My wife had taken these today)

I never tire of the beautiful sunsets we so often get here.

Right from our front or back yard...
we may enjoy the most beautiful natural art on the largest of canvases...on a regular basis...
 and of which so often, fills the entire sky.

We can tell when a particularly beautiful sunset is upon us.

A telling glow of deep amber or brilliant pink positively luminesces 
through our window panes...and lights up the rooms.

As the sun was setting on Alex's special day...
after Alex had a nice peaceful day all to himself to do as he pleased...
we still had dinner to look forward to.

Alex loves Teppanyaki...
so, we tried a new Teppanyaki place (to us)...

We drove to the city center to Harrah's Casino where 'Ichiban' is located.

Alex and I had the filet mignon, lobster, and shrimp platter.

Although we love Teppanyaki...
and the dinner was okay...
our favorite is still 'Ishii 2'.

We plan to go back to 'Ishii 2' in a few weeks
(when I turn 55 yrs. old).

Alex had a nice relaxing birthday.

He is looking forward to next year...
as at  15 1/2...
he may get his learner's permit to drive.

I have decided to start him as early as possible to give him the most experience
he can get while directly under my supervision...
before he gets his license
(we will also put him into specialized professional driving courses).

for a retrospective look at the past year for Alex.

Alex had won the school AMC 8...
and had placed among the top 1% in the nation
(although we expect he will do even better this year with the AMC 10 and 12...
as he won't have to concentrate on Mathcounts anymore).

Alex also participated in the county spelling bee for the second year in a row.

Alex had gone snowshoeing and snow biking for the first time.

Alex had taken first place in the Patriot's Pen Essay Local Contest
(In the previous year, Alex had taken 2nd place in the State).

Alex has amassed over $1,000.00 in prize money through his placements in essay contests
over the past 2 years.

Alex had won the Mathcounts State Championship
(the year was set incorrectly in the pictures)...
and in doing so...
he went to the Mathcount Nationals as part of a four man team.

 Of everything Alex has done so far...
this was probably his proudest moment.

This was his last year of competition in Mathcounts.
He had made the State finals each previous year
(starting in the 6th grade).

This was his first time to not only make the State team going to the Nationals
(top four individuals in the State...and one of the top 224 individuals in the nation...
out of over 100,000 initial participants nation wide)...
he had taken 1st place in the State.

(once again, the year was incorrectly set on the should be 2014)

Alex competed in the Western Nevada Regionals with his Science Project. 

Alex was inducted to the National Junior Honor Society.

Alex at the University of California Berekely math competition 
for high schoolers.

Alex was part of a 6 member team representing the Davidson Academy
at the UC Berkeley math competition for high school mathletes
(Alex is a Davidson Academy Young Scholar).

Alex with his teammates in preparation for the Mathcounts Nationals
(we flew to Las Vegas for a practice session).

Alex took the ACT (College entrance exam test)...
and as an 8th grader...
not only did he get a perfect score in Math...
in the overall score...
he got in the top 1% of all University bound High School Seniors...
in the nation.

Alex with his Nevada State Team upon their arrival in Orlando, Florida
for the Mathcounts National Competition.

Alex at the Mathcounts Nationals award ceremony and dinner in Orlando, Florida.

Team Nevada had won the most improved team in the nation award.
They also got to spend time at Epcot center during their 4 days there.

Alex became part of Northern Nevada's Math Team
going to the ARML Nationals after scoring high enough 
in the ARML local competition
(a high school national and world competition).

This was Alex's second year at the ARML nationals.

Their team had placed 9th in the nation in their division.

Alex graduated the 8th grade...
and he had given a short speech at the graduation ceremony. 

Alex also received this card from the 12th grade graduating class
in recognition for his tutoring of them in their Trigonometry class
(Alex was an official math tutor for the high school students 
all during his 8th grade year...
and he got credit towards public service
for his Junior Honor Society requirements).

In the Summer before he started High School...
Alex was accepted as a student at the University of Nevada Reno.

His first class as a University student was 'Probabilities and Statistics'
(when one of the University's recruiters had seen Alex's ACT scores...
he immediately accepted him into the University).

Alex received a letter of Congressional Recognition 
from a Nevada State Congressman for his #3rd district placement
in the Patriot's Pen Essay contest
(he had placed 1st place in the local division).

Alex learned the basics of all the major sports.

Alex had flown his first kite.

Alex had completed his first barbecue as the chef.

Alex with his University Math Professor at the conclusion of his class...
just after he had taken his final exam in Probabilities and Statistics.

Alex on his final day of his first semester at University.

He had gotten an 'A' in his Probabilities and Statistics class.

Alex's first hike on the Mt. Rose trail.

Alex's first time swimming in Lake Tahoe.

Alex's first time live firing a firearm.

I had bought Alex his first rifle for getting an 'A' in his first class as a University student
(Marlin 795 semi auto .22).

The first time we had reached the apex of the hill on our night walks with backpacks.

Alex starting his second semester (Fall) as a University student.
He is presently taking Linear Algebra...and he is so far...
getting an 'A' in this course as well.

Alex started his online High School and he got his first full sized computer (Apple iMac)...
and study station...all just for him.

This is Alex's place of study...
and a refuge of peace and concentration.

This is his home base from where he trains his mind...
in preparation for his future.

This is the most important place in our household.

Alex participated in NNV Math Club's first mathematical public exhibition...
and he won the count down round contest.

Alex was invited to his old middle school to give a 50 minute 
Mathcounts presentation to his old Mathcounts math coach's present class
(at Coral Academy of Science).

Next weekend...
we will be driving approximately 8 hours to Harvey Mudd College
for the annual Harvey Mudd College / CalTech University High School Math Competition.

Alex is part of a 6 member math team competing there
(mostly the same members with whom Alex had competed in the 2014 UC Berkeley
High School math contest earlier this year).

We will be staying there for a couple of nights before driving the scenic route home.

Alex is excited to be participating in this event, as each one of the major three
annual high school math competitions builds his skills for the next competition
(Harvey Mudd / CalTech University - Stanford University - UC Berkeley)...
and for even higher math level competitions to come...
but most of all...
each serves as a stepping stone toward his future goals.

I am living each day in anticipatory excitement at what lies ahead 
in Alex's 14th year of living life to the fullest...
and for his glorious life which lies directly before him
as he steadily walks his way to ever happier years beyond.


  1. It was a remarkable year for Alex, with so many accomplishments and new experiences. I can see why you forward to each new day with Alex. He is certainly making the most of his life.

  2. Alex is loving his schedule. He has so little wasted time, now that he has direct control over his studies. He may zoom through easy classes and spend more time on the tougher ones. He is no longer bored at school. Alex loves everything he does as a result of this freedom.


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