Sunday, April 27, 2014

Alex At The ARML Local Competition



Song:  Bridge Of Sighs

Group:  Robin Trower


Today Alex competed for a spot on the local team going to the ARML Nationals...
at a local private school.

There was other testing going on throughout Nevada.

Alex made the top 15...
so if the rest of the State is only sending one team...
it is unknown where he stands.

If each area of Nevada will be sending their own team...
then Alex will surely be on the team.

We should find out more next week.

I was a proctor for one of the groups testing...
and my wife was one of the scorers
(we were never in charge of Alex's group).

It was a long four hours as it was rather warm in the rooms.

I know I should have been thinking of more upbeat songs...
but slow drawn out songs such as this played in my head as I just sat waiting
for my group to finish one round after the next.







After the group round...
all of the young mathematicians had a snack break.






 It was then time for other assorted rounds.





After the ARML local competition...
I had most of the young mathematicians gather for a group shot
(there were some who hadn't shown up for this shot).


A happy Alex...
and a happier me  :)

(it was nice and cool outside)



We won't know for sure if Alex will be going to the ARML Nationals for at least one week.

If he is on the team...
the ARML Nationals will be in a little over one month.

What ever comes...
shall come.

In one and a half weeks...
Alex will be competing in the Mathcounts Nationals in Florida.

We shall be flying out with him...
and enjoying 4 days at Disney World
(for the competition and some free time in Disney World).



After getting home from today's ARML competition...
my wife was feeling too frazzled to cook...
so I took Alex out to eat at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant.



Alex and I enjoyed our meal.

We finished up...
ordered take out for momma...
and we just relaxed for the rest of the evening...at home.







Alex's New Friday High Rep Squat Routine


Song:  Shout

Group:  Tears For Fears


These are some older photos of Alex doing squats.

I merely wanted to show the form used.

I decided to take out one of the twice weekly Farmer's Walks
as Alex is showing the greatest progress on just a once a week session.

An even greater reason is that Alex wasn't fully recovering
from a twice a week Farmer's Walk.

He has gotten three colds since Autumn.

This is indicative of a body in a perpetual state of slight exhaustion...
of a slightly suppressed immune system due to being stressed beyond 
his body's capability to fully recover.

The Farmer's Walk, as I am having him do it...
is walking for 1/4 mile with 110 lbs in his hands...
with progressive weight increases as he adapts
(he will now just do the Farmer's Walk exercise once a week).

It really taxes the body as it heavily stresses strength endurance.



I had started Alex doing one set of high rep Squats with just a bare bar.

These pictures are from last year.


Alex will now do one set of 20 repetitions without racking the bar.

This will make for an intense session...
but nothing demanding extreme strength endurance.

This will stimulate strength stamina.

Another reason is that this will bring his shoulders back so he doesn't slouch.

The essence of this squat program is to go at a moderate pace with pauses 
at the top and bottom of the squat.

The pause at the bottom is about one second to ensure the lifter is lifting cleanly.
Without it, the mind/body tends to cheat by bouncing at the bottom...
which stresses the lower back and the knees especially heavily
as it tries to use the elasticity of the tendons instead of 
forcing the muscles to create most of the force.

The rest at the top can be at the lifters discretion.

Believe me...
once the lifter gets to the teens in the reps...
he will be pausing for longer intervals at the top to catch his breath.

If the lifter cannot complete the whole 20 reps without setting the bar on the rack...
it is too heavy.

Some of the great benefits of a 20 rep squat routine:

Builds power from the ground up.

Increases musculature throughout the body.

Improves posture and mental acuity.


Wait...
Mental Acuity?

This routine...
once an appreciable amount of weight is used...
will be one of the most intense sessions a lifter will ever experience.

It is the equivalent of running flat out up a very steep mountain...
until the muscles start to fail to contract...
and the lungs feel as if they are going to burst.

What this does is to signal to the body that new capillaries
need to be built, besides for the body to adapt with greater musculature
(strength and stamina in all the muscles of the body greatly increase).

Besides the largest muscles of the body building new capillaries...
new capillaries throughout the body are built...
including the brain.

A freer flow of oxygen to the brain allows for 
an easier and greater flow of thoughts...
which improves mental acuity.

The body is so highly stressed that a state of emergency is declared...
and emergency adaptation is stimulated.

There is no such thing as only a portion of the body being affected
when the largest muscles of the body are highly stressed.

It is a general hormonal response...
and a general flow of hormones affects every part of the body.
Two of the master hormones in the body which are greatly stimulated
to go into high production mode by this exercise:

Testosterone

Growth Hormone

(While the hormonal increases resulting from this intense exercise is fact...
the resulting mental effects is merely my posit.
It is not even a hypothesis, as I have nothing but
personal experience and common sense to support this line of thought).


Ok...
as I am relying upon mere anecdotal evidence...
this is what I had experienced a couple of decades ago:

More than 20 years ago I had first tried this well established 20 rep squat routine.
Although the routine had called for three sessions weekly...
as I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep every work day...
my body could not adapt to such a frequent bout of weekly sessions.

I was also lifting with low reps and high sets on other lifts...
so I tried just once a week 20 rep squats.


Physically...
I noticed a great increase in overall body growth and strength.

Mentally...
I felt a great increase in thought processing...
not only in the rapidity of thought...
and of the greater parameters of creative thought...
but in the ability to focus.

Emotionally...
my spirits positively soared.

When the body must adapt to pain...
and the pain is removed...
the resulting residual effects of the pain adaptation
without the negative stimuli being present...
is the same feeling that a high mountain hiker experiences
after he reaches the summit, looks out upon his personal victory...
and then drops his heavy backpack.

It is the intense and elevating feel throughout the body and mind...
of pure elation.

This feeling will often last for many days...
sometimes the whole week...
if the session is intense enough.


I am introducing this to Alex slowly...
and I am also re-initiating this program for myself.

It is important to increase the weight slowly.
Add only 5% or so to the total...
and allow full adaptation to occur before adding more.

Each of the reps should have no more than 10 seconds
at the top before squatting again 
(again, without setting it upon the racks...but just standing upright with the weight...
supported by your body alone...as in the top most picture).

If it takes longer to recover enough to complete the next rep...
the body needs more time to adapt before adding more weight.


I am starting to lift once again...
after a few year hiatus.

I have suffered some lower back and knee injuries over the years...
several areas which needed to heal...
and which take a long time to do so
(I had actually damaged some of the ligaments and tendonal connections
by doing some stupid things which led to deep injuries).

Being in my mid fifties means 
still having the heart (emotional outlook) of a young man...
without having the great adaptational capabilities of one.

As I have said before...
in so many ways...
I am a bonehead.

Many of my lessons in life come in retrospect...
by having done it the wrong way...
suffering from it...
and then realizing the better way through experimentation.

This is why...
as I have matured...
 I so highly value thinking ahead...
instead of slogging away without forethought.

This is why I am teaching Alex to think ahead.

By teaching him to be a far better man than I have ever been...
I can lead him to a better way of life....
one where forethought through introspection 
negates the necessity of learning through painful retrospection.



Well...
after Friday's exercise session...
I took Alex out to eat at the Atlantis Casino for some high quality protein.

We had chosen to eat at the Sky Terrace Sushi restaurant.


We had a light rain on this night.
Luckily, I had managed to get a parking spot right near the walkway entrance.


Alex and I had started out with some rolls.
Alex got the "Caterpillar roll" - it is filled with crab and eel...
among other things.

I started out with my favorite...
the "Jason roll".

This has scallops which are cooked...
and the roll is filled with them...
all the way to the bottom.



We then had Unagi (fresh water eel).





We then had their fresh and delicious tuna.


Our sushi chef.


Alex then had another "Caterpillar"...


and I had some more "Jasons".


We finished off with some Green Tea ice cream.


As we were leaving the restaurant and walking down the sky way.


We are at the end of the walkway and just before the stairs leading down to the parking lot.

Alex and I had a nice relaxed evening.

We just took our time eating and talking...
with Alex playing his iPad between our discussions :)


It is actually Sunday morning (4:40 AM) as I write this article.

Alex will be competing for a spot on the State ARML team going to the 
Nationals late in May (a High School math competition)...
in about 8 hours.

It is the ARML local...
and the competition will go from approximately 1 PM until 5 PM or so.

My wife and I will be helping out at the competition...
so we will have to arrive an hour ahead of time.

I will write the next article about this event...later tonight.

As always...
Alex is looking forward to his competition...
and sleeping soundly...
and as always...
I am amped up the night before his competition...
fidgety and wide awake  :)












Monday, April 21, 2014

VICTORY! - Alex's ACT (American College Testing) Results



Song:  Cars

Artist:  Gary Numan
(Gary Numan is also in the Autistic Spectrum)


Alex took an official ACT test just over a week ago.

This is the one of the two basic College Entrance Exams recognized
by the Universities in the United States to test for the readiness 
of potential College/University candidates 
(usually High School Juniors and Seniors - 11th and 12th grade)
and is heavily considered as part of the University application.

Just recently, the ACT was more heavily used in the U.S. than was the SAT
(they will be instituting an easier SAT in the future, and so, Alex wanted to take the ACT...
as it now has more meaning.  Alex's next goal will be to take the SAT II which is 
more subject specific, and so, more in depth).

Although Alex hadn't studied much for this ACT since he was concentrating on his
math competitions (he had only taken two practice tests before this official test)...
he still wanted to take this one.


Alex en route to take the ACT (early in the morning) just over a week ago.

Alex loves taking tests...
and although I had actually wanted him to take this particular test later...
as I knew how busy he would be with his competitions...
he insisted on taking this one.


Alex had a goal of getting a perfect score on the Math portion
of a college entrance exam before getting into High School...
and of seeing improvement in all of his other areas.

Now...
the math portion of the ACT is actually tougher than on the SAT because
it goes as high as Trigonometry...while in the SAT, it only goes to Algebra II.


So...
Alex got his results today (on line):

(amended on Apr 29 - When Alex got his English/Writing scores in).


A score of 12 is perfect for the essay.

Alex had scored a 10...
which is also in the top 1% in the Nation.





The following is the composite score for the English and Writing


This put Alex in the top 1% Nationwide of the ACT tested High School College bound students.


Alex had not only gotten a perfect score in Math 
(the ACT score of 36 is equivalent to 800 in the SAT...both of which are perfect scores)...
he had actually gotten very good scores in all of his areas
(a score of 18 in each of the subcategories is perfect)
and he made dramatic improvements in his reading comprehension
(as a result of his daily reading of many of the classics in literature).

What is so great about Alex's scores is his composite score of 33.

This puts Alex in the TOP 1% of ALL College bound 
High School Juniors and Seniors in the Nation...
and Alex is 13 years old and in the 8th grade.




What is also good about him taking this, and all other College Entrance tests...
is that they allow us to track his progress to see any areas which need extra attention...
and so, areas of study which are in need of modification.

Again...
Alex did no cramming for this test.
Actually, he barely did any specialized practice
because of our concentration on his math competitions.

But then again...
his competition math practice is much tougher than these tests...
or that which he will get at his school.

His reading comprehension improved just by his reading 
of books which are at a higher reading level
(we are giving him University level classics of literature to read from now on).

We just started giving him higher level books this school year
because we wanted to ensure he understood the basics of truly comprehending
that which is read... to ask himself questions as he reads, to try to predict
future events in the book, to understand why things had happened...
 to understand why an author had written the story in a particular way...
and to even see if he could improve on the story.

Although Alex has a long way to go on fully dissecting a story...
he is on the right path, and he just keeps on improving.

With all of Alex's competitions lately...
I have had to omit a lot of our reading comprehension practice.

After these competitions are over...
we will go into our daily reading comprehension mode of practice...
as this is an incredibly important subject to concentrate on...
and this summer will be a perfect time for concentrated learning.

After Alex got his results today...
I told him that we would go out to any restaurant of his choice for a victory dinner.

He had chosen the Outback Steakhouse.

Alex and I just love their full racks of pork ribs!



Alex and I finished our ribs with room to spare.

The Outback has the BEST pork ribs I have ever tasted.

Alex and I got a full rack of ribs each.



Since this was Alex's victory dinner for his ACT scores...
he got a victory dessert also.


So, how happy am I with Alex's scores?


All during the writing of this article...
 I had to stop every few sentences to play the air drums 
as I played this song over and over  :)

What can I say... yes, I am absolutely overjoyed.

Alex had met one of his short term goals...
and we set some others for him to pursue.

Alex always gives us a big smile when he learns of the next goal to meet.

It will be his next big test in life...
and so, a grand adventure on which to embark...
and another milestone to achieve as a growing man.

This is not only preparing for life...
this is living life!  








Sunday, April 20, 2014

Alex In Las Vegas For A State Math Team Practice Session



Song:  Adagio In C Minor

Artist:  Yanni




The night before our flight to Las Vegas for a state team math practice session.
Alex and I went to one of our favorite restaurants...Naan and Kabab.

Alex had his old favorite...Salmon Kabab.

The purpose of this session was to familiarize the team members with one another...
and to find out their particular strengths and weaknesses so they may not only compensate
 for each other during the team rounds, but to develop a team strategy for attacking
the problems at the Nationals.


We had awakened Alex at 3:30 AM so we could get breakfast before our flight.

Alex had grilled Salmon...
and I had a T-bone steak and eggs at a local Denny's on our way to the airport.

As I usually stay awake all night...
I hadn't slept since the day before.

Although I was feeling fine then...
later on in the day...
I really felt it.


We are at the Reno airport on our way to our departure gate.


We had arrived plenty early.
Alex just relaxed with his iPad.



This was only Alex's second time in an airplane.
His first time was seven years ago when he flew with his mother to Japan 
to see his grandparents.


We had a short and pleasant flight to Las Vegas.
Alex enjoyed looking out at the passing scenery.


This hung in the room of the math teacher from Hyde Park.
Hyde Park has consistently produced many math champions over the years.


One of the team member's father had picked Alex, and I, up at the airport...
and took us to the math teacher's classroom for a day of team math practice.

Some of the parents of the state team members were there in the morning.


This is the state math team coach.
He has been the coach of the state math team for quite a few years.

These four young men are the best Middle School mathematicians 
in the State of Nevada.

They are all very bright...
and all so closely matched in mathematical capabilities.


The coach first separated the four into teams of two...
and gave them problems to solve.








The coach then had the members rotate so each member could work
 with all of the other members of the team.



Both, the young man in the hooded blue shirt, and Alex, are 8th graders...
and so, this is their last year of Mathcounts competition.

The young man in the solid blue shirt, and the young man in the red shirt...
 are both 7th graders.

For these two to have made the State Mathcounts Team was extremely impressive.
Almost certainly, one of these two will be number one in the state next year.


One of the members explaining how he had solved a particular problem
(this young man seemed to be particularly strong in Geometry).

A few days before this practice session...
each member had to create two problems for the other members to try to solve...
and they, of course, had to have detailed answers included.

Alex's problems are below:








Team Nevada hard at work.


Each member is driven by his goals and dreams.


Each member is highly intelligent...and is deadly serious in his training.


Each member is thoroughly dedicated to his mission to master his art.


And each member knows he will soon enter the arena of intellectual combat...
and so, he must constantly hone his skills if he is to fare well...
for each is an intellectual warrior preparing for battle.


The Intellectual Knights of Nevada.

The top four Middle School Mathematicians in the State.



The team having lunch in the teacher's lounge area.

The father who had picked Alex and I up from the airport
had taken me to a sandwich shop as a special trip just so I could
get Alex a Tuna sandwich.

He was very understanding to Alex's aversion to certain types of food.

The rest of the team had Pizza.

After the team finished their lunch...
I stayed in the lounge area and got some much needed sleep.


The father of one of the team members (in the far center of the photo)
had awakend me at the conclusion of the study session.

The other parents were here to pick up their children...
and the same father in the picture then took Alex and I back to the airport.


Alex with the math coach (Mr. Lawrence)...
the Weapons and Tactics Master of Team Nevada.

It was through this practice session that he had worked out their final battle plan...
the tactics from which the Knights of Nevada shall forge their team into a single battle unit.

There is nothing left to do but for each knight to apply the final polish on their armor...
and to sharpen their weapons one last time before they engage with the 
220 finest mathematical knights in the nation...
in the greatest Middle School mathematical tournament in the nation...
the Mathcounts Nationals
(to be held in a few weeks time in Florida).


A tired Alex at the Las Vegas airport.


As we had a few hours to kill...
we ate at a Chinese restaurant before our flight.


Alex enjoying the twilight's last gleaming from 34,000 ft.


We are on our final approach...Reno Airport.


The practice session with the rest of the state team was very productive...
and Alex had gotten a lot from it.

We were, however, very glad to get back home.

Both of us were very tired...
and we looked forward to relaxing some before going to bed.

As tomorrow is a holiday...
there is no ARML practice.

I think Alex and I will go out to enjoy ourselves at an Imax movie...
after he completes his normal daily studies...of course  :)













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