Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Alex's Psychology Dream Journal / JAVA Practice Program



Song:  Dream Chasers

Group:  Future World Music


This is another exercise Alex had completed for his Psychology class
(Alex had fun with this).

It consisted of logging three of his most remembered dreams...
and then answering ten questions about them.

My wife had pointed out (I think correctly)...
that as dreams involve the subconscious...
without the overriding filtering of the conscious...
it is a more true reflection of the natural state of the person's
base personality (notice I had not said basic)
 as a result of the natural state of their neurochemistry.

The natural levels of our neurotransmitters in a resting state greatly infuences
the levels and intensity of our impulses and drives...
and so, our basic outlook and reactions to stimuli.

And no...
this is not an argument for nature over nuture.

A basic reaction to stimuli is nature...
but nurture can greatly alter our actions, outlook, and even the basic responses 
to future stimuli...when the conscious mind filters and guides them.

However, the types of dreams a person repeatedly has...
 can be a window into the basic makeup of the mind...
the neurochemical ratios which form the fundamental 
drives which manifest themselves in either socially acceptable or unacceptable forms...
as altered through learned behavior.






(Alex had done wery well in this exercise...
and so, had received a 30/30 score on it).



My wife noticed that Alex has the same type of dreams as does she
(although a child often dreams of a basic fear of the unknown).

They both worry about things...
and are slightly anxious, and so, are cautious in nature.
Both of them are very methodical and progressively linear in their thinking.
They both operate from the details to the general.

I am quite the opposite.
I am very impulsive by nature.
I operate from a strong emotional basis...
and so, I tend to free associate too much.

My mind is a pinball which bounces around while generally eschewing the details...
and works from general to specific.

Although Alex and I are very similar in the intensity of our drive...
where Alex excels is in his combination of a strong drive...
coupled with extreme focus and patience.

This is why at 13 years old...
Alex is already a far better man than I in so many aspects...
and why he will do far better in life than have I...
especially academically

(This is, of course, the dream of every parent).


--------------------


This is another one of many JAVA exercises Alex has been doing 
in his AP Computer Science Class.




---------------


Alex is much happier now that he has much more academic freedom.

He is no longer bored...no longer hampered by a slow pace...
and he is now free to take higher and higher level math classes 
through the University system.

And through his online High School...
he may advance himself at his own pace...
and so, he may have more direct input into his own life.

I highly recommend this educational scenario for any child who feels 
hampered by the slow or delayed pace of normal school
(although a school which allows unrestricted upward movement
is also an ideal scenario).

Everything in life...
especially that of school...
 should operate strictly through merit.

Quite frankly...
it is sheer idiocy (sorry...my emotional side came out again  :)
to quantify or qualify anything except purely through merit
(so long as free opportunity, and so, free choice, continuously exists).

Would a person but think for just a moment...
in such a world...
there would be none of the isms...
sexism (Misoginism as well as Feminism)...
racism...ageism...
favoritism by whatever means (including sociological/religious ideology)...
could not exist.

A person may rise according to his 
drive, dreams, intelligent planning, and fortitude.

Society would rise and reach its full potential...
while preserving personal freedoms.

My argument on the strength of a meritocracy
through both, the micro, as well as the macro views...
in a later article.

(I warned you about my pinball mind  :)








Monday, September 29, 2014

A Modification To Alex's Exercise Schedule



Song:  Aqua Vitae

Group:  Future World Music


 Since Alex's weight training has now gotten much higher in intensity
due to his lifting of each lift at near maximum weight for ten sets of one repetition
(30 seconds to one minute rest between each set)...
and since our nightly walks are getting more strenuous with the amount of sand
we are now accumulating in our rucksacks 
(which is starting to make a difference when we walk up the major hill during our walks)...
we will omit the nightly walks on Sundays and on Thursdays
(Alex's heavy weight training days)...
to allow him full recovery.

Alex eats extra portions of protein on these days also.

I have also added strict presses to his Sunday routine.

He will do one set of the Trap Bar Deadlift...
immediately do one set of the press...
and then rest for 30 or so seconds before repeating for a total of 10 sets.

After his sets...
he will do one set of twenty reps of the pull up
(he has yet to do one complete pull up...
but he goes as high as he can for 4 or so times...
and then rests for 30 or so seconds before attempting more...
until a total of twenty solid attempts have been completed).

I have also taken out the Barbell Rows on Thursdays...
and will have him do the twenty Pull Up set after his Thursday heavy weight training instead
(twice a week sessions will allow him to progress 
in this all important exercise at a greater rate).



I have taken out the block for him to stand on while doing these Deadlifts...
as he is now using fairly heavy weights on his Squat day (Fri)...
and he goes to rock bottom with his Squats.


Alex is now doing 10 sets of 240 lbs in the Trap Bar Deadlift.


Right after each Deadlift...
Alex does a strict Press
(he is pressing 80 lbs overhead in a strict fashion).

This is a non ballistic lift.
Although he could learn to lift far more by jerking the weight...
I want him to build the raw strength of his shoulders and triceps with a strict Press
(I will introduce Alex to the Clean and Jerk at a later time.
When I do...it will take the place of the Deadlift and the Press).


To control his pacing and to ensure he unifies his body to his breathing...
I have him inhale before all lifts...
then exhale during the lift...
then while holding the lift at the top...
he will inhale again...
and then exhale on the way down...
with the weight under his complete control at all times.


Alex is now doing pull ups from the pull up bar...
without a cheater block underneath him.


He can almost complete a full pull up
(he still needs to work on the strictness  :)

In a little while...
Alex will be able to do complete pull ups.

When he can do 20 strict (no swaying or caterpillering) 
and full (full extension to chest to the bar)
pull ups in a row without rest...
we can then add weight to his set.






Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Presentation On College Life (MIT) For Alex



Song:  Try To Keep Up

Artist:  Elijah Bossenbroek



Today...
at a private school in Reno...
there was a seminar put on by representatives from MIT
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

In their seminar...
they had explained about some of the expectations that MIT has for its applicants...
and what first year students may expect from their experinece at MIT.

Most of the students at the seminar today had not already applied to MIT...
although most have thought of doing so at some point in their future...
and so, wanted an idea of what was involved.

We went to get more information on the application criteria...
as well as for more information on the institution itself.

Of course...
having Alex apply to MIT in a few years is one of our goals
(as well as to Caltech / Stanford / UC Berkeley)...
today's seminar was just to get more information on the application process...
and an insider's view of life on the campus of MIT...
so Alex would have a better idea as to what to expect
 as a possibility for his future.



It was raining slightly when we arrived.


 The loft is just beyond this stage and up the stairs.


The loft where the presentation was made by several MIT Alumni...
including one from somewhere in the admissions office.

A couple of other alumni were conducting supplementary interviews for those who 
had already applied to MIT and are somewhere in the admissions process.



 The presenters had a slide show...
and a question and answer period.


A private school was hosting this event.

They are located on the South most portion of Reno...in the hills.

We live in the most Northwestern hills above Reno...
so this view of Reno is backwards to me  :)

As you can see...
there are still rain clouds in the sky.

From here...
we went to our favorite Asian Market to pick up some groceries.


We have been to all of the Asian Grocery stores in Reno.

This one...
by far...
is the best one.

We go here often.


They have almost everything we need here.

For some of the hard to find Japanese items...
my wife shops on line from an Asian Grocery store out of San Francisco.


One of my favorite isles...
the spicy instant noodles section  :)

I know I shouldn't eat instant noodles often...
and I do not...
but while watching a good Korean Drama...
and seeing them eating noodles...
well...
I just can't resist eating along with them as I watch.


They have all types of Asian rice here.
We will buy 50 - 100 lbs at a time.


They have a good selection of various pickles...


as well as homemade Kimchee and other Korean style spiced products.


In the frozen and refrigerated sections...
there is a plentiful supply of various seafoods...
and meats.



Whenever we go here...
we spend a good $200.00 - $300.00 on Asian food.

Alex loves Asian food the most.



Just as we got home...
the sky started to clear.

As you can see how the colors of Autumn are starting to emerge.

On our nightly walks...
we have begun to wear sweatshirts...
as the temperature has made a dramatic fall as of lately.


I love the cooler temperatures of Autumn and Winter in Reno.

Alex and I thrive in cold temperatures...
it makes us feel most alive.

Alex and I can hardly wait for the first snow storms.















A Sample Of Alex's Linear Algebra Class



Song:  Space Oddity

Artist:  David Bowie




 I do not pretend to understand math...
especially advanced math
(and so, this song.
Yes...
its me with advanced math...
lost in space  :)


This is a sample of Alex's homework from his first week in his Linear Algebra class 
at the University of Nevada Reno.

As to be expected...
Alex is still doing very well in this class.

As you will see...
advanced math is not purely calculations.

Alex is writing mathematical proofs
(he really enjoys mathematical proofing).

He not only has to come up with the right answers...
he must show how it is correct
using correct mathematical logic.

This is to give students an idea of what is in store if they intend to 
go into advanced math at any point in their studies
(as will be necessary for Engineering / Physics...
and what is used in the advanced math competitions especially).







This is a sample from one of Alex's homework assignments from his first week.




These are Alex's answers to problems 20 / 23 / 26




The below are questions from a later section.



Below are Alex's answers to problems 16 and 18.




After this semester...
Alex will be taking Differential Equations.

He is having such a great time working towards his future.

Later today (it is presently 1 AM on Sunday)...
we must skip his Sunday Math Club practice
as we will be going to a special seminar...
but more on this later tonight.






















Thursday, September 25, 2014

Alex Working On His Themed Four Part Short Story / Alex At The Lab



Song:  Promise

Artist:  Thomas Bergman




Alex looking into a microscope in the Biology Lab at NorthStar.

Although most of his studies is online...
he has to go in to take tests and to participate in science labs.

Today's lab involved looking at cells they had stained.
Alex said they start dissections in a few months.

I had bought him some metal weave incorporated kevlar gloves which are slice proof...
as he will be handling a scalpel for the first time at that point  :)


Alex after his lab at NorthStar.

He said he really enjoyed it.

A short while later...
I took Alex to UNR for his Linear Algebra class there.

When we got home from UNR, he continued studying at home...
and after dinner, he was on the computer until late at night working on
his themed four part short story.

Last night, when I had spoken to him as he was typing away...
he told me that he was working on the second of four short stories
he will eventually combine into one four part short story under a unifying theme
of Air, Earth, Water, and Fire.

He said the first story was of a bird.

I had asked for a quick synopsis of the story of Earth he was working on.

He said it was of a child who had inherited a million dollars at birth...
and whom had been told by his parents that for each act of misbehavior by him...
a certain amount would be deducted from his original million dollars  :)

It sounded very interesting
(he was on page 16 when I had talked to him).

He said his four part story will be finished in a few weeks.

I will be sure to include excerpts of his stories in an article once he is done.

Writing novels and short stories is one of Alex's main hobbies.

When he is at home...
he likes to listen to music while he writes
(He usually listens to Classical, Opera, New Age, or Epic music.
Alex likes much of the music I include in these articles).

Alex also loves to write when we go on long car drives.
He says he finds the scenery to be stimulating and inspiring.


Alex is so cute  :)











Sunday, September 21, 2014

Clear Skies For Two Days / Alex's Sunday Math Club



Song:  Breathe

group:  Two Steps From Hell




The skies of Reno had a short two day reprieve from the smoke from California's fires.

My wife had taken these photos from our front yard yesterday evening...
when the skies had returned to normal for the two days.

As the air was clear...
Alex and I went on our nightly walk last night.


However, after returning from Alex's Math Club practice session today...
the smoke had returned  :(




Today's practice session focused on AMC 10 / 12.

Alex did really well on his practice tests.


The math club found a new meeting place.

There were quite a few members missing today.

There are usually almost twice as many children in attendance as there were today.


Alex loved seeing his old acquaintences in today's practice session.

Alex has greatly improved in his math abilities since their last meeting.

The young man in the hat on the left side of the picture is forming a 6 member team
to compete in Caltech's Math tournament in a couple of months.

He had asked Alex to be on the team.

We are looking forward to going...
even though it is an 8 hour drive  :) 


Addendum:  We just learned tonight that the tournament
will be held at Harvey Mudd College this year.
They alternate between Caltech and Harvey Mudd every year.

Alex wishes to compete in the three major annual high school math competitions
in California:  Caltech/Harvey Mudd - Stanford University - UC Berkeley.

It seems he has a team to go with for each one now.

Most, if not all of the participating team members, are from the team
 he had competed with at UC Berkeley last time (the team from the Davidson Academy).







Friday, September 19, 2014

Smokey Skies Above Reno Once Again



Song:  Quest For Freedom

Group:  Future World Music




It is fire season once again in California.

There are fires in California which are particularly smokey for Reno...
as these fires lie in the gap of the Sierra Nevada mountain range
which funnels the late morning and early afternoon breezes from California...
directly into Reno, Nevada
(at approximately the 1 O'clock position from Sacramento).

As a result...
there have been so many fine particulates in the air in Reno for the past week
that Alex and I have had to stop our nightly walks until the fires are put out.

Although the smoke is an unavoidable problem for the few weeks a year
whenever California has large forest fires burning close to the Sierra Nevada gap...
Reno is particularly blessed with cool breezes throughout the day and night
because of the surrounding geography.

It is a small price to have to pay for the normally fresh, cool, and crystal clear 
breezes we get throughout the year.





 A naturally blood red sun as it cuts through the smokey skies over Reno...

as compared to the normal skies of Reno below:




While the smokey air has curtailed our nightly walks for the time being...
it won't keep us from eating out  :)


We decided to eat Thai food on this night
(it is just a few miles from home).



Alex tried two new foods tonight...
chicken and shrimp spring rolls with the peanut sauce...
and sweet and sour shrimp.


Alex hesitantly dipping the roll into the peanut sauce  :)


Although he had eaten a few bites...
he didn't so much like it.


Alex also tried the sweet and sour shrimp...
and, although he wasn't crazy about the dish...
he had eaten all of the shrimp.


My wife and I started out with their hot and sour soup...


and we each had their green curry.

----------------


Alex is making such great progress in his studies.

His mother told him he should take more breaks between his study sessions.

As it is now...
Alex just hurridly eats his lunch and goes right back to his study area.

He is so focused on advancing himself in all of his subjects.

This is who Alex is at his core...
he loves learning at his pace...
and without any delays or distractions...
and with unbroken focus as he makes his way forward toward his goals.

Alex is so happy now in his self paced studies...
and with his ability to take advanced math at UNR.

This is Alex at peace with himself...
doing what he loves doing most...
following his path to his dreams.












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