Saturday, March 28, 2015

Alex's First Mountain Bike Ride Of The 2015 Season



Song:  Zeynep's Romance

Artist:  Omar Faruk Tekbilek



I just love this song...
it is so soothing.

It reminds me of the longing for...
and the reacquaintance with...
a long lost friend.

As it had been quite a while since we were here...
this music seemed appropriate.


It was a beautiful day today.

It was around 5 PM before Alex finished his studies for the day...
and we had then departed for Stampede Reservoir to start our 
mountain biking season.

We have a favorite beginners route here.

It is a pretty gentle ride...
but it has a few places which really get our hearts pumping...
and momentarily numb our legs
(the elevation is approximately 6,000 ft.).

We are getting back into shape for much longer rides.

Now that the snow has melted...
every Saturday evening will be our mountain bike ride day.

We ride in the evening hours as it is mostly shaded and cool 
the whole of the route.




This is near the beginning of the ride.

The route takes us through forests...
and down a gentle decline.


We are at the bottom of the decline here...
and on our way back up.


We are back at the top...
and there is a section of graveled road...


which leads back to a dirt road...
and takes us back to the car.


We are back at the car.


Alex loaded up the bikes...


and secured them to the bike rack.



We headed back home (1/2 an hour away)...
whereupon we showered...
and then headed to one of Alex's and my favorite restaurants...
Naan and Kabab
(a Mediterranean restaurant).


We have been going to this restaurant for years.

Alex and I always get the same meals
(each of which is just so delicious...
 whenever we crave these unique dishes...
we simply must return).

I always get the Kabab Koobideh 

(either in a pita or on a platter...
and both of which has this great Tzatziki dip
which really goes well with the meat)...



and Alex always gets the Salmon Kabab.

I have tried the Salmon Kabab.

It is the most delicious salmon I have ever had in my life.

It is light and fluffy...
and the flame cooking really sets off the flavors.

The same goes for their fire roasted vegetables.

The excellent natural flavors of the vegetables are really brought out
when they are flame roasted.

Before dinner...
I get their excellent house salad...
which has balsamic vinegar dressing.

The dressing has just the right amount of tang.
It makes my mouth water...
and my stomach even more hungry for the main dish.

Alex loves their warm pitas.



This restaurant has it all:

excellent food...
friendly and engaging staff...
decent prices...
and the overall ambiance with the classical guitar music in the background...
is just fantastic.

Alex finished off dinner with homemade ice cream 
and a slice of their Persian chocolate cake.

I had rolled dates in honey.


Every Saturday...
after our mountain bike ride...
we go out to eat.

What a great way to finish off a stimulating day of exercise...
and the great outdoors.

Whenever you have that great combination of 
exercise and the great outdoors...
everything just tastes so much better...
and the hunger that is worked up...
makes the sated feeling all the more satisfying.








Friday, March 27, 2015

Alex's Aborted Attempt To Zero His Marlin 795



Song:  Desert Symphony

Artists:  The Piano Guys



After Alex's lessons for the day...
I decided to take him out to laser bore sight and zero his Marlin 795 semi auto rifle.

For those who don't understand my rationale for having Alex learn to shoot:




We drove out to our favorite shooting spot about 30 minutes from home...
but after I had walked out the target approximately 100 meters away...
two things made us abort the live fire of his rifle.


Just as Alex was loading up his magazines with ammunition...


 motorcyclists drove up and started to ride in the range

(In the future, we will move farther North of this area...
away from most motorcyclists).

Also...
the wind had picked up.

Besides knocking down the target...
buffeting winds make the target move...
and affects the trajectory of the bullet...
making an accurate zeroing of the rifle at 100 meters near impossible.


So...
 I had Alex unload his magazine...
and I kept the chamber lock in place.


I then moved the target up close just so he could have something at which to aim
while he got used to using his bipods in various firing positions.







While the evening was not wasted...
we have yet to zero his scope to his rifle.


Tomorrow...
we will be going back to Stampede Reservoir for a short mountain bike ride.


This will be the first time this season for us to use our bikes.

It should prove to be refreshing.








Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Down To The Wire - Alex And His AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Examination)



Song:  Highway Song

Group:  Blackfoot




Alex walking into NorthStar's campus to take his AIME
(American Invitational Mathematics Examination).

The road to this final journey for Alex was a long and convoluted one.

The site which posts the Honor Roll for the AMC 12 is still not complete for Nevada
(The organization said that only after the AIME scores are tabulated...
will the web site reflect Alex's name and score for the AMC 12 Honor Roll...
it could be another several weeks).

Alex had achieved the Honor Roll for his AMC 12 score...
and achieving the Honor Roll is a prerequisite to the taking of AIME.

We had been waiting for the results for weeks...
but neither Alex's school, nor had Alex, received word on his status.

The last testing for AIME is today.

Yesterday...
Alex's math teacher called the organization to find out Alex's status.

He again called them today.

They initially had said that they had no record of having received Alex's test.

However...
as the math teacher had already explained to them...
he had received an Email from them showing receipt of Alex's AMC 12 test.

My wife had already asked the teacher to request a hand check...
and so the teacher had relayed this message to them.

Just 3 hours prior to the AIME test...
my wife thought to take pictures of Alex's AMC 12 test paper...
and had included them with a link to the organization...
and had then emailed them to me.

I immediately composed an email to the organization with the supporting evidence...
and within 15 minutes...Alex's teacher called us saying that the organization
had found Alex's test...and that they had hand corrected it...
and in fact...that Alex had made the Honor Roll...
and that he could take today's AIME.

The organization then emailed the test to the teacher...
and with but a couple of hours to spare...
Alex got to take this next tier math competition
(Universities ask prospective students if they had qualified for AIME...
and if so, how they had scored).

(As the AMC 12 is for up to 12th graders...
Alex has another 3 years to compete in this once a year testing...
and to requalify for AIME entrance every year).

I don't blame the organization...
they have to grade and compile thousands of AMC tests from all across the nation
(mistakes happen).

They searched for Alex's test...
and corrected the situation in time.

This was the important thing...
 although, we were on edge until the situation finally got resolved.

Alex was so happy that the situation was resolved in time.

Alex had a big smile on his face...
as did we all.

Alex was so looking forward to this competition...
and he has been working hard for it.

For weeks...
we had been on hold.

We felt as if we were driving along a long desert highway...
were running low on gas with no filling station in sight...
and that all we could do was to ride it out.

I don't know if it was a coincidence that the supporting evidence
that my wife had gathered had anything to do with the successful 
resolution to our quandary...but it was good thinking on my wife's part.

It provided a valuable lesson for Alex...
to exhaust all possible avenues toward problem rectification...
 to always keep copies of everything...
and to keep them organized for quick retrieval.

I just dropped off Alex at his campus testing center...
and I will be picking him up in 3 hours.



We waited near the office for Alex's math teacher to begin the test.


One of the proctored testing centers.

Alex's math teacher was also there to proctor the test.


Alex loves taking tests and entering competitions.

Each are objectives which mark and flavor his journey...
on the highway to his goals.



Later tonight...
we are going out to Alex's favorite Indian restaurant 
to celebrate his successful bid to take his first 
American Invitational Mathematics Examination

(Before this...Alex was concentrating on Mathcounts).



Addendum:



After almost two months of emails...
they finally sent Alex his certificate...
although we are still waiting for them to update the website.












Monday, March 23, 2015

Alex's Presentation And Paper - Autism Spectrum Disorder: From Enclosure To Triumph



Song:  Innocence Lost

Artist:  Omar Akram




Alex had prepared this research and personal perspective paper...
along with a keynote presentation of the highlights of it for his English class.

First comes his Keynote Presentation...
which is a collection of some of the salient points
which outlines his presentation:












And this is Alex's paper from which he had made his Keynote presentation.







Alex is, and always has been, a very happy child.

He loves learning, other (good) people, and life.

His intensive ABA therapy had worked wonders...
because he had it early in his development...
the application of the therapy was administered by wonderful and caring therapists...
8 hours a day every weekday...
in our home...in a special classroom we had set up.

Alex has a bright future...
and a very satisfying and beautiful life ahead of him.

It is his attitude which has everything to do with this.

It is not we, his parents, who drive him.

Alex has a great work ethic...
and a deep love of learning...
both of which drive him onwards and upwards.

He is driven from within.

His personal victories are all his...
and his alone.















A Typical Math Circle Day For Alex



Song:  Most Beautiful Splendor

Artist:  Parijat


Every Sunday...
for 2 hours...
The NNV Math Club meets in this room.

Although Sherry Griffin 
(the leader of NNV Math Club)...
usually conducts most of the lessons...
often times, the young man standing at the front of the class in the below photo...
will teach a class for the day.

He will teach an important concept and will thoroughly cover it for the whole 2 hours.

Although he is only an 11th grader...
he had gone to the Mathcounts Nationals 3 years ago...
he is the most highly advanced in math at the math circle...
and he is highly mature.

He teaches his classes with efficiency, effectiveness, and patience.

After illustrating each principle...
he would attempt to get feedback from the class
to ensure each had an understanding of the principle or concept...before moving on.

Sherry Griffin had to attend to a personal emergency...
so I had agreed to chaperone last Sunday's math circle.

I was not needed there...
however, just for liability reasons because all in the math circle are minors...
I was there.

All I had done was sit in the corner
(an appropriate place...as I was the dunce of the class  :)...
as I watched this young man lead his class to understanding.



The lesson of the day was...
Inclusion / Exclusion.




The calculation of the math is the easy part.
It is in the understanding of the logic behind the problem...
of how to ask the correct questions in order to solve and prove the problems
that is all important.

The young teacher of the day had used Venn Diagrams early on...
and very simple problems to help illustrate the main principles involved.


As the ARML Chapter competition is coming soon
(it will be held at UNR this year)...
each student will be competing for a spot on the team going to 
the ARML Nationals in Las Vegas later this year.

Alex always learns much at his Sunday math circle.

Alex wants to become listed this year at the ARML Nationals
(score high enough in the individual rounds).

Prestigious universities will often ask applicants for their individual ARML scores...
when students apply for admission.

Math Circles are such a great way for advanced students of math
to get advanced training in competition math.

The Math Circle (NNV Math Club) is free...
the young mathematicians get high quality training in a nice learning environment...
they get to compete in many math competitions...
and they have a great time with each other while discussing one of their favorite subjects...
Math.









Saturday, March 21, 2015

Alex Proctoring The 2015 NNV State Mathcounts Championship



Song:  Beautiful Freedom

Composer:  Udi Harpez




Although Alex may no longer participate in Mathcounts (grades 6 - 8)
as last year was his last year to compete (Alex is in 9th grade now)...
he still wished to go to encourage the others...
and to help out as a volunteer in helping to set up the testing room...
and to be one of the proctors monitoring the competition during 
the numerous testing phases.

Some of Alex's Math Circle had also helped proctor the competition
(NNV Mathclub).



Alex is helping to distribute the scratch paper to each individual contestant's place.


Alex helping to set up the competition room.


This is the parents' and math coachs' waiting area during the competition...
and the break room for the competitors.

All morning long...
Alex and the other volunteers were in the testing room
as they monitored each phase of the competition.


Alex back in the waiting room during one of the breaks.


The competitors on their lunch break.


Alex and I waited until the initiation of the Countdown Round...
and the placement announcements.


This one competitor had broken his lower leg during a recent skiing accident
(He had made the Northern Nevada top 8 and had won the Countdown Round.
He, as well as the other top four from the Chapter Competition...
had made the top 8 for Northern Nevada and so...
 had participated in the Countdown Round).


All the contestants were back in the competition room for the final contest...
and for the placement announcements.

For the final phase...
the parents and coaches could watch the top eight competitors go head to head
in a test of quick calculation.




Remember this young mathlete?

He was the one who had taken first in the Chapter competition.

He is the mathematical wizard whom I knew would make the Nationals this year...
and who I suspected would become number one in the State this year.

He was Alex's chief competitor last year from Northern Nevada.


Just as Alex had done last year...
this young mathlete had taken the State Individual Mathcounts Championship...
#1 in Nevada.

The other 3 placers of the top 4 in the State going to this year's Nationals 
were from Hyde Park - Las Vegas.

I was a little sad to hear that only one of the two who were still eligible to compete this year
from Hyde Park in Las Vegas...
and of whom had made the National team last year with Alex...
had made it again this year 
(the third member from Las Vegas from last year...
 is also in 9th grade this year, and so, is not eligible to compete). 

We had gotten to know the other members of the National team when Alex went last year.  

However...
even though I know the one who
hadn't made the team this year must be somewhat disappointed...
he had a tremendous time at the Nationals last year...
a time which he shall remember for the rest of his life.


The young man to the right of the 2015 Mathcounts Nevada State Champion...
is the winner's math coach from The Davidson Academy.

He has consistently done a tremendous job with their math team...
as has the coach from Hyde Park.

This year...
The Davidson Academy took second place in the State for the team championship.

Hyde Park had taken first place.


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

For an explanation of the Mathcounts Nationals and what it takes to get there...
 a recap of the 2014 State Mathcounts Championship
when Alex had won the State Individual Mathcounts Championship...
and of his subsequent trip to the Mathcounts Nationals in Florida
(of which was such a tremendous once in a lifetime trip)...
click the links below:












The above links will give you an idea of what is in store
for each of the Mathcounts National competitors.


Although last year's Mathcounts Nationals was held 
at the Disney hotels at Disney World in Orlando, Florida...
this year's Nationals will be held in Boston, Massachusetts.

However...
each competitor can expect to have an absolutely fantastic time...
as the people who put on this event really make it a time of magic for all who go there...
especially for those of whom are competing.


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


One last congratulations to this year's State Mathcounts Champion...
you had done a tremendous job...
you are a truly deserving champion.

I know that you and the rest of your team will do very well at the Nationals.

I would wish you luck...
but luck is not needed...
all of you have great talent.

(as I raise my chalice in recognition 
of these great intellectual warriors as they prepare for their final battle).


















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