Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Alex's Lesson In Disappointment



Song:  Before The Last Leaf Falls

Artist:  David Lanz




The County Spelling Bee at the University of Nevada - Reno campus.

Alex had taken first place for his grade in his school...
and so he was representing his school at the County level.




The initial stage of the spelling bee.
This year there were far fewer contestants.
This was the 75 word written portion.



The boy in the middle got first place and will advance to the State Finals.
The girl to his right got second...
and the girl sitting to her right had gotten third.

This was the oral test.
There were only 6 contestants from the 8th grade.

The big disappointment Alex had felt was because he was the first one to be asked 
a word...and it was an easy word...however, it was a dual meaning word.

Alex should have asked for the definition to distinguish between the two.

Instead, Alex, not thinking...immediately spelled out the word "sleight".
He was thinking of sleight as in sleight of hand... 
without considering the other possible meaning.

Although Alex had spelled it correctly....the word was the other meaning "slight"...
and so Alex was out of the running.

Alex was further disappointed because after listening to the words of all of the other 
contestants...he felt he could have won.

However, the asking for the word in a sentence or the asking for the definition
is part of the contest.  Alex had failed to ask for either...
he just immediately launched into the spelling of the word.

Alex had tears running down his cheeks and he had felt so bad for 
not thinking to ask for the definition.

We went out for lunch right afterwards...
and he was still feeling low...
but I pulled out a sports metaphor from my daddy hat.

I had explained that the more often a batter goes to the plate...
the more often he will strike out.
However, it also means that he will get on base more often...
and that he will more often have home runs.

The important thing is to go to the plate in life...
and if you must go down...
you go down swinging.

This made him feel better...
and we ate...
and we dropped him back off at school.


Alex has two other contests in the next two weeks...
both of them are in his strong area...
Math.

Although I think he will try extra hard in the next two contests
because he will feel he has to make up for his failure at the Spelling Bee...
he really has nothing to make up...
he had gone to the plate and had struck out swinging.

I know Alex feels especially bad because this was one of the very few failures 
at anything he has tried in life...
but as we had explained to him...
coping with disappointment in life is one of the very necessary life skills
in which he must master.

I told him that I was glad that he had felt so disappointed
because it meant that he had put his heart into it
(far better than apathy).

However, we told him that he must learn to not show it...
and even better, to use it as a lesson learned...
(to not make hasty decisions...but to take his time and carefully consider first)
and to use his failures as fuel for his future studies and competitions
so he may study even more fervently...
and so he may feel his future victories even more intensely.


I also told Alex that it was also my fault.
I had been practicing his words with him at home...
and I had neglected to have him ask me for clarification
on dual meaning words.  I had instead, immediately given the meaning
after I had said the word.

I should have realized that I had inadvertently handicapped him from the beginning.

I had forgotten how the Spelling Bee worked on the oral portion...
and I had incorrectly assumed that they would automatically give
each word in a sentence as they do on the written portion.

I know more than most that the way you train...is the way you perform.

I must be very diligent in the future in knowing the rules of the contest fully...
and well ahead of time, so I may train Alex more correctly.

Although Alex had initially felt very disappointed...
by the time he got back to his school...he felt much better.
I think he is now even more hungry for future competitions.

Alex is looking forward to going back to the plate.

BATTER UP!  :)













Friday, January 24, 2014

Alex's New Tutor



Song:  Rock Meets Rachmaninoff

Group:  The Piano Guys



Alex's first day of advanced math tutoring.

Alex's mother has Alex take previous years' math competition tests...
she will then give the tutor the results in advance of his next lessons...
the tutor will then teach his next lesson by explaining the concepts 
of the problems he had gotten wrong.


He was very patient with Alex.


Alex enjoys learning...
and I think we had made the right choice in this teacher.

What I especially like about Dr. William Bertrand
is that he had spent his life in the world applying his knowledge.

His specialty is Physics...
and in Physics...there is a lot of applied math.



I had spoken with Dr. Bertram today.

We have him booked for twice a week sessions with Alex.

I am sure we will later be using his services when Alex takes Chemistry and Physics...
and especially when Alex needs to write up research papers on a higher level.

Dr. Bertram is also presently tutoring some students
from the Davidson Academy in Physics.

To have been on the academic staff at M.I.T. 
tells me of his potential as a teacher.

To have seen his thoughtful teaching style in person...
gives me great hope in his ability to pass on his knowledge to Alex.

As I was watching Dr. Bertram teach Alex during his first session...
the attached song at the top of this page ran through my head.

I realized I had found a winner in this tutor.
I was positively rocked out with us having a tutor 
with whom Alex may learn a whole variety of important subjects in the future.

With just one day of tutoring with a man of such high caliber...
I see a whole brighter future for Alex.


Today...
after Alex's homework, advanced math, and reading...
we worked a little while with spelling practice
(Alex competes in the County Spelling Bee at the University of Nevada next week)...
and we then went over some logical fallacy practice.

Alex then got into his workout clothes...
and completed his Farmer's Walk 
with 105 lbs and with only 3 rest stops!

Even with the added 5 lbs...
Alex cut the rest stops from 5 to just 3 for a 1/4 mile walk
with 105 lbs. in his hands...
that is great improvement!

I explained to Alex that the growth occurred because of two things happening...
his body was stimulated enough to tear down just enough...
and his body was allowed to recover for supercompensation to occur.

He had taken a two week rest from exercise...
and had come back with a fully adapted body...
stronger than ever before.

Before adding weight to his exercises or testing max to calculate the new 80%...
he will take a two week respite in either the weight lifting program
or the Farmer's Walk...
to fully allow adaptation to occur...thereby allowing growth and new higher performances
(after completing 25 sets - or when he is ready to move up in the Farmer's Walk).

Tonight, we are going to celebrate at one of Alex's favorite restaurants...
El Pescador...for some seafood for Alex...Mexican style.


In the next two to three weeks...
Alex will be competing in the County Spelling Bee...
the Chapter Mathcounts competition for placement rights in the State finals...
and in the AMC 10 math competition for national percentile ranking.


Alex is so diligent in everything he does.
Just the way he tries his best at everything on a continual basis
(studying everyday - attempting to stretch himself through competition)
makes me so proud of him.

Alex is a young man in search of true worldly and self knowledge...
 as discovered and tempered in the fires of the training halls and through competition.

He is destined to become a Warrior / Philosopher...
the physical prowess of a Hercules...
and the intellectual prowess of a Socrates.

Alex is well on his way to becoming worthy of leading others in intellectual combat
(Alex desires to become a University Professor and/or a Scientific Researcher).

I think Alex will excel in Physics...
but as of right now...
the world is open to him and to his dreams and desires.


Do not think that we are "Tiger Parents"...
that we are somehow forcing Alex to study and to achieve.

NO.

Alex is a Tiger.

He is self motivated...
his drive comes from within.

He loves to learn...and to compete.

We are just constantly searching for...
and applying ways to support, nuture, and guide his natural drive.

Finding new opportunities for Alex 
(my wife excels at researching most academic avenues for Alex)
and helping to guide him on a correct path in life makes living so wonderful.

As a parent...
I know that most other parents feel the same way.


Am I jazzed about being able to find 
a high caliber tutor who can really help Alex expand his horizons?


As I have previously stated...
I am positively rocked out!  :)




















Monday, January 20, 2014

Alex At Squaw Valley



Song:  Pretty World

Group:  Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66



We decided to drive up to Squaw Valley for the day.
It is only 45 minutes or so from home.
We wanted to scout out the area for future reference...
and to take the Gondola to the mountain cafe and observation area...
and to walk around the village area.

Although we have not had snow for several weeks...
and the weather has been unusually warm (mid 40s - 50s daytime highs)...
we were not disappointed.

What beautiful sights there were to behold from atop the mountain cafe!











The Gondola embarkation/debarkation point.


Alex loves riding gondolas.



As you can see...
we had almost the whole gondola to ourselves.








The mountain cafe and observation platform is in view.



The cafe where we would shortly eat.


We first walked around on the observation platform where we could get 
360 degree views of the grand mountain views.

The elevation here is approximately 8,200 ft.


The swimming pool was closed at this time.


Lake Tahoe is in the background.

Alex and I LOVE the mountains...
especially at high altitudes.

This is the type of area I wish to finally retire on.
I am dreaming of the day when I may have distant mountain views... 
and to live where even eagles dare not soar...
preferably from between 10,000 to 15,000 ft in elevation.
I, of course, may have to settle for 5,000 to 10,000 ft. in elevation...
depending on what the future holds
(Although we now live at approximately 5,300 ft elevation...I want more!
Alex also loves high altitude).

There is just something about the air in the high country.
Besides being so fresh and crisp...
and the temperature being in my preferred range
(I also love storms and wintery weather)...
the feeling of freedom and overall lightness of being is highly addictive.
My body tingles and I feel almost giddy at all times.

While I am normally optimistic...and a dreamer of sorts...
up in altitude...my mind races with great unrealized possibilities...
a great symphony plays in rhythm with the scenery...
and each true color has its own feeling.
I always feel so alive at high altitudes
(of course, it may simply be hypoxia...  :)


Give me air that is fit for a man to breathe...
where each breath brings in the scent of a lit hearth...
where I may feel freedom in my heart...
and have a brisk Northerly wind on my face.

Give me storms of ice and snow
so fierce as to make even the bears hide in their dens.

Give me driving rains and winds...
so I may fully appreciate the crystal clarity of the senses
when the High Country shines in all of its magnificence.

I shall be building my family's refuge in a place formerly 
reserved for the gods themselves...
the High Country...
rrroarrrrr (my guttural tiger's roar :)...
sorry....ah....
perhaps I am still giddy from our trip  :)

I am more than country...
I am a Mountain Man at heart.
I am happiest in High Country.
Alex is the same way.

Looking forward to getting our final property 
in such a place of freedom as is the High Country...
well, for me, it is a dream worth dreaming...
and pursuing.

My dream is also Alex's dream.

One day...
perhaps.


Alex said he loved the scenery...
and the cool breeze on his skin.







The Terrace...
what a grand place to enjoy lunch.



Alex enjoying his hot cocoa...
as we all enjoyed the fresh mountain air from an open window.


Alex had a large garden salad with a delicious balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


I had a very good panini.


After having a very relaxed lunch with spectacular views...
we went back to the gondola for the ride down.


We were waiting for our ride here.


Our ride arrived after a short wait.


On our way to the village at Squaw Valley.



We walked around the shops for a while.



Alex resting at one of the many fire pits.





The scenery was beautiful, and the air was lightly scented 
with the wonderful aroma of burning wood.

The elevation at the village is approximately 6,200 ft.





As we drove the short way back home...
we planned where we would like to go for dinner.

When I had asked Alex where he would like to eat...
he immediately said, "Naan and Kabab".

This is one of our favorite restaurants.

So, after a two hour rest at home...
off we went to Naan and Kabab.



Alex had his favorite...
Salmon Kabab.


I tried something different this time...
Steak Kabab.

Alex and I love their food.

They fire roast everything except the rice
(which is some of the best rice I have ever had...
very light and fluffy...and with a hint of saffron).

The vegetables were delicious as well.
Fire roasting makes everything so tasty.

I don't understand why all restaurants don't fire grill their meats and vegetables...
the flavor simply comes alive with flame roasting.



My wife had their Persian chocolate cake.
It had a unique cocoa taste...which was delicious...
not too sweet...but very flavorful.


Alex and I had their homemade Pistachio ice cream
with homemade Baklava on top.

I love the honey infused sweetness of their Baklava.
When they put it on top of their ice cream...
what a great way to polish off a great meal.



Our short mountain day trip was great.
We plan to return sometime in the future.

Heavenly Valley at South Lake Tahoe has the best gondola to observation platform 
for panoramic Lake Tahoe and distant mountain views...
and it is near the Lake Tahoe Cruise.

Northstar has the best village.

Squaw Valley has the best mountain cafe...
and gondola to observation platform for the best near mountain views.

All three are very near home...
how fortunate we are.

We keep getting pleasantly surprised at all of the wonderful places near us.

We won't be so foolish as to not explore as much as we can...and as often as we can.

In the next week or two...
unless we have snow...
Alex and I are planning to go on a short hike to Eagle Falls in the mountains of Lake Tahoe.

Even though we won't need camping equipment...
I plan to carry a backpack with cold weather gear and sleeping bags...
food and water...etc...
just in case the weather turns for the worse while we are on the trail...
not only because it is the prudent decision anytime one hikes in the mountains...
but also because I want Alex to get used to carrying a pack.

I will be ordering a backpack for Alex tonight. 

Hopefully it will arrive in time...
if not...then we will share the load so he may at least 
have a taste of carrying one.

I have been waiting for more snowfall so we could go cross country skiing
for our weekly long distance endurance training.

We will have to switch to winter hiking during the unseasonably
warm spells we have been having.

Either way...
it will, once again, be time to walk amongst the Titans and Gods
in the land of the heavens...
High Country!   :)










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