I have thought about this one for a while and I honestly do strange things regardless of whether or not I’m alone.
But to answer today’s challenge, I work on different facial expressions in the mirror, stretch, talk in weird accents to myself, and crouch in a ball on my chair with my torso towards the back of the chair.
Oh, and today, I just realized that whenever I read the Economist, the voice in my mind reads it in a British accent….no lie.
You impress me. I don't understand how you manage to do everything you do,but you are really something. Congrats at the tourament and your blog's title is very appropriate. :) i guess you can consider this one of your first bits of fan mail haha. Good luck with your future ventures Ray.
Coming full circle with the Berkeley Speech & Debate Invitational
Two years ago as a sophomore (and a novice in speech), I ventured out into the world of national circuit Speech & Debate by competing at Berkeley for the first time.
It was the first tournament organized by the “Arcadia Debate Forum,” which would later grow exponentially in size, prominence, and emotional significance.
That tournament in 2009 was an amazing, eye-opening experience. It was the first time I had traveled via plane to a tournament and competed outside our local league. I still vividly remember running across Berkeley campus in a suit, carrying a small black umbrella as rain poured down from the skies above. I didn’t recognize anybody as a competitor in Original Oratory, lost in the sea of over 250 other orators. When I didn’t break, I learned one of the most important lessons of Speech & Debate: your experience is defined by your own attitudes and actions, not the trophy you earn.
That tournament was pivotal. I promised myself that I would qualify to State Champs that year, ultimately write and legitimately compete in Original Oratory, come back to Berkeley the next year, and one day rise to the same level as those who I watched competing in finals.
I kept every single promise.
In 2010, Arcadia Debate Forum returned, now with double the number of people.
We had a blast eating crepes, exploring Telegraph, running across campus in the rain, staying up late in the hotel at night, and bonding as a team. In 2010, I also decided to be adventurous and try doing duo with Carl and Public Forum with Andrew. Both were amazing decisions and although triple-entering was one of the most physically-exhausting things I have ever done, the reward and fun made it all worth it.
And so now it is 2011….
This past weekend was the last Berkeley Invitational and the last national circuit Invitational I will ever attend. I haven’t been able to blog since Thursday night because triple-entering meant preparing my speeches/debate into the early morning hours, waking up at 6 AM, debating/speaking all day, returning to the hotel around 11 PM, and prepping again for the next day before catching a few hours of sleep.
I’ll try to summarize everything……
I woke up at 6 AM and got to school at 7 AM to take an AP Statistics Test. The Friday we planned to leave unfortunately coincided with an AP Stats Test, but Michelle and I worked it out with Mr. Walker so we could take the test from 7 AM - 8 AM before we left at 8 AM so we didn’t have to miss a test.
We left for Burbank airport around 8 AM and everything was very smooth. We had a good two hours to kill in the airport, which we spent prepping for debate (we were pretty much screwed in terms of preparation). The flight was short (only 1:05) and before we knew it, we were in Oakland Airport.
We got our rental cars and headed to our hotel, the DoubleTree at the Berkeley Marina. The hotel was humungous and right on the beach (by beach, I mean NorCal beach….so no sand or sun…), but it was still very pretty. I was very pleased with how smoothly everything went. We went to a grocery store to buy snacks and food for the next three days before heading to Sabuy Sabuy II for dinner.
The picture above was taken at dinner, and Andrew Chang (if you read my blog, you probably know all about him already) was able to join us because he attends UC Berkeley. It was great to see him again and he returned to the hotel with us to help us prep for debate (and his help ultimately was invaluable to our success).
That night, I also met Elijah Goldberg for the first time. In the past two years, I have exchanged probably thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls with him, but I have never met him in person. He lives in the Bay Area and we work on political organizations and non-profits together. I am convinced he will rule the free world in a few decades because his leadership and drive is unheard of for a high schooler. He acts like he is at least fifty years old, but we ended up connecting really well and I look forward to projects with him in the future.
That night, Patrick, Gina, Andy, and I stayed up until 3 AM finishing our cases and filing evidence.
The day started early at 6 AM as the debaters (we entered in Public Forum) had a 7:45 AM round. Patrick and I had a very smooth and successful first round (and we were judged by a coach who I had coincidentally met at Nationals, but didn’t realize until after the round ended). At 9 AM, Round 1 for Speech was held, which meant running across campus in the rain as Oratory and Duo are held in the same pattern.
Oh right, it was raining on Saturday…bummer. Rain in a suit on a tournament day just isn’t a good mix.
Anyway, Saturday lunch was amazing because we had planned a SNFI reunion. About fifteen people showed up and it was so great to see everybody back together again. It was funny because we were standing and talking and some random person walks up and says, “look how happy everybody is! You guys are all smiling!” We didn’t realize it at the time, but we probably seemed so elated to be back together again. Those two weeks at SNFI were amazing (that word seems to recur throughout this post) and I was glad that a large part of the SNFI group was able to get together for lunch. We ate at Naan ‘N Curry and Lou and Roise went around talking to each of the kids and giving them advice for the rest of the Speech year.
Then came Public Forum Debate Round 2 (succcessful) and following that, Speech Round 2, followed by another debate round. I had dinner around 9 PM at Chipotle before returning to the hotel for more prep. Patrick and I ended the day going 3-0 in Public Forum (yay for being undefeated :D)
Once again, the day started early with debate. Luckily, we had time to return to the hotel for a good two hours after debate round 4 before debate round 5 (and I took a much-needed nap). Speech round 3 was in the late afternoon, followed by debate round 6. Patrick and I ended the prelim debate rounds going 5-1, so we were seeded 22nd going into outrounds.
Speech breaks came up after that and I broke both in Duo and Oratory (and Alex E. broke in DI!). Those rounds were fun, but it ended around 10 PM. We got back to the hotel around 11 PM and ordered pizza for dinner as we waited for Quarterfinal breaks.
Ultimately, I broke again in Duo and Oratory, so Michelle and I decided that we needed to practice. However, there was nowhere in the hotel we could do an all-out practice run because it was midnight and the hotel was dead silent. So as a solution, we went in the elevator, which is kind of soundproof. Luckily, nobody needed to use the elevator at midnight or else it would have been hella awkward (yes, that’s right. I just said hella. Deal with it….I spent 4 days in NorCal).
Monday morning was tough because I broke in all three events, but breaks all run in the same pattern. I ran to Oratory Quarterfinals to speak first, before running across campus to Duo Quarterfinals, then I ran back to the middle of campus for Public Forum Triple-Octos.
Patrick and I lost that round to a Miramonte team. It was a hard-fought debate but ultimately we lost because we didn’t prove our causal links well enough. It was fair and I really enjoyed my time in debate doing research, writing cases, running from round to round, learning to flow on my computer, and giving my 10 Voter Issues Final Focus of Death.
Michelle and I also failed to advance past Quarterfinals in Duo.
We were happy with our results but a bit annoyed at how duos now are advancing with cheap tech and sound effects like beat boxing instead of scripts with meaning and depth of character. Of course, the nature of speech itself is subjective, but we were happy to come across several people and judges who appreciate the simplicity of our piece.
I made it to finals of Original Oratory…
It felt great to finally make it to finals after two years where I failed to advance past Quarterfinals in any event. I had so much fun just performing and passing on my message to the audience that sat in that auditorium watching the Oratory final round.
We got some “lunch” (it’s in quotes because it was around 4 PM) at Gypsy’s, which had really great Italian food at even more impressive prices (large entree of seafood pasta for $6). We went back for awards but came to the realization halfway through that if we stayed for the entire ceremony, we would miss our flight. So, instead of staying and accepting my award for Oratory and the award Michelle and I got for Duo, we left and headed to the airport.
I got a few phone calls in the airport that I placed 3rd in Oratory. We ate a little bit before boarding the plane ride to head home. I slept a large part of that flight simply because I was so exhausted. We got back to Arcadia around 11 PM and it felt great to lie in my own bed without worrying about my speeches or my debate case.
Whew. That was lengthy and verbose….
So, I guess this is an important step in marking the end of my high school Speech & Debate career. It’s not over yet, but this trip really made me realize that I won’t be running in the rain across campus next year. It helped me embrace an attitude that I should make the best out of everything because soon, I won’t have this world of forensics with me anymore.
One of the best parts of the tournament would have to be seeing all my Speech & Debate friends again. Over the past few years, I have met a lot people from all across the country who do every event, and I always love that moment where I see somebody I haven’t seen in months for the first time. It was great reuniting with my SNFI family, catching up with the Monte Vista Nationals team, bumping into various competitors I have met in rounds, and even meeting new people.
I am wholly content with how Berkeley turned out. It was HELLA successful (like I said before…deal with it :P) and I was most glad that at the end of the day, all of Arcadia Debate Forum smiled and raved about how much fun they had this weekend.
By now, this entire experience of Speech & Debate has grown beyond myself, in that I am no longer most concerned with what and how I do. This is all for the younger students who are still in the heart of their Speech & Debate careers, who will soon conquer the vast world of forensics, and who will discover their own potential, drive, and the countless number of life lessons that this activity will teach.
So here we are, making a full circle. It’s interesting how things turn out, huh?
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for NorCal…heading to Berkeley for a Speech & Debate tournament. The past few days have been hectic in preparation for this tournament.
I’m triple-entered in Public Forum, Oratory, and Duo, which means that I will be running across Berkeley campus from 7 AM until 9 PM. This is customarily the hardest and most tiring tournament of the year, although one of the most fun. It’s always a blast to reunite with old speech friends, hang out with my team, and compete in endless speech rounds.
The Public Forum topic this month is Wikileaks, which I personally find to be quite fascinating. The concept is so simple yet it has had such a profound impact on the international community.
I am really excited for this trip even though I have been busy over my head. I’m pretty much done packing and I have to sleep soon for the AP Stats test tomorrow morning (that I’m taking at 7 AM so I can leave at 8 AM for the airport).
Wish Arcadia Debate Forum luck! We will be eating crepes on Telegraph Ave. and trekking around Berkeley in our suits quite soon :3
I spoke way too soon when I posted about two weeks ago saying that things were too relaxing because these past few days leading up to this weekend have, and will be, insanely busy.
That stereotypically relaxed and carefree second semester senior year has yet to kick in (and it will probably remain dormant for quite some time). I’ve been driving from place to place as the to-do list on my phone grows longer by the hour.
I’ll keep this short because I have lots of work to do…studying for school, casing for Public Forum, finalizing trip details for this weekend, practicing my speech, etc.
And even though it may seem like I’m complaining, I know that deep-down, I’m really not. Being busy and overwhelmed gives me this unique adrenaline rush…it’s really exciting to have so much happen at once.
Today, the Arcadia Mock Trial Team was recognized at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in Downtown LA.
It was such a humbling honor to receive praise from the five people who essentially control LA County in its entirety.
Most of the students were able to squeeze this special ceremony into their busy schedules with school, tests, classes, and extracurricular activities. Morning is typically an odd time to meet, but this recognition was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
It was an amazing honor to have the President of CRF, members of the CRF Board of Directors, the five Supervisors of LA County (including the mayor of LA County) commend our hard work and dedication.
The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration Building is humungous…..
…and the certificate (which will be framed soon and hung in the Admin building) was just as magnificent.
And what could be Arcadia Mock Trial without a silly picture…
It felt great to be reunited with the majority of the team. I didnt even mind driving through stop-and-go traffic because these people are just so fun and hilarious to be around. We had a team lunch at Souplantation before returning to school before 5th period.
Later this evening, we had another Mock Trial meeting preparing for State Finals. It still amazes me how quickly we can transition from raucous laughter to serious rehearsing and back to raucous laughter. This literally happens within seconds.
This is the first time in the past four days I have been able to sit down at my computer to check Tumblr.
Yes, I did go through four days worth of Tumblr posts. That is one huge feat within itself.
These past four days have been insanely busy….
Thursday, I traveled to the Pomona Superior Courthouse in the morning. I can’t say much other than I am working on a project with people across country and I am very excited for the next few months. I also watched some hearings which is always fun and interesting.
Later that afternoon, I drove to downtown LA to have my Columbia interview. It was at Musick, Peeler & Garrett LLP on the corner of Wilshire and Grand. And paying eight dollars for parking wasnt the only ridiculous thing that happened because I was issued this:
Before entering the building, security scanned my driver’s license and issued me an ID that I had to swipe at entryways and in the elevator. My card was only given access for the 20th floor, the floor of my interviewer. Oh, and did I add that there was floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the skyline of downtown LA?
Later that evening, I went to USC to visit June, Helen, and Virginia. We hung out in Virginia’s room and ate take-out Pad Thai before heading to KTown for dessert.
After getting mixed up with directions because of JUNE’S TERRIBLE MEMORY, we finally got our papingsu (Korean shaved ice) from Miss Coffee:
Got lost on the way back and drove all the way to Melrose before ending up back at USC.
Friday, I spent the entire day at the SoCalSwim Junior Olympics in Long Beach (at that Belmont Plaza Pool I blogged about a few weeks ago).
The pool is right on the beach. I woke up at 6 AM to drive to Long Beach. I didn’t do so well in my events, but I take everything as a learning experience. During the break between Prelims and Finals, I sat in CPK with Justine and her parents, and Courtney. Before the Finals session, I took a walk on the beach to see the sunset:
It was a long day as finals ended around 9 PM and I went out afterward to eat dinner at Gladstone’s on the Pier with my family and got home around 11 PM.
Saturday was just as busy with a Johns Hopkins interview and a Valentine’s weekend date with Ivana :3
We had brunch at La Petite Creperie in LA, then we headed to Venice Beach.
It was a beautiful day…sunny and 80 degrees!
We had dinner at Cafe Santorini in Old Town and decided that it’d be fun to dress-up LOL and we ended up wearing almost the exact same thing we wore to Prom last year.
The food was pretty good…it’s supposed to be a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant.
But the best part about Cafe Santorini is that you eat on the roof! I couldn’t really get a picture that shows that vantage point…but take my word for it LOL
Today, my family and I went to Hollywood for the Area Finals of the American Legion Oratorical Contest. This entire experience has been very interesting as I have met so many interesting veterans with great stories to tell (vlog about one of them coming up very soon).
I ended up winning this round (and $500 hehe) and I’ll be representing Area 6 in the California State Finals in two weeks in Ontario. I’m humbled by the words of support from all the veterans that I’ve spoken to in the past few weeks, and I wish them all the best.
I rushed to a Mock Trial meeting back in Arcadia and arrived just as they were finishing up. Coach Olivia brought her puppy (SO CUTE!!). Even though I wasn’t present for most of the meeting, I still smile at the energy and enthusiasm present at every meeting we have.
Well….it’s Monday again! This will be a fun week leading up to a trip to NorCal next weekend. I feel a little more relaxed now that I’ve caught up with Tumblr, blogging, and most of the internet. It has been a busy and eventful (but very fun) weekend!
Crossing team lines and turning "enemies" into friends
Last year, a few friends and I came up with the idea of an Arcadia/San Marino Speech & Debate Social to try to get to know each other better and realize that although we compete against each other, we should be friends. The experience of Speech & Debate (and much more) is less about winning/losing and more about the people you meet and the experience you have. We discovered that becoming acquainted with your competitors just makes the experience much more enjoyable….and it was a great success!
So when Celina Chow, one of the cabinet members of the San Marino Speech & Debate team suggested we hold another one this year, I was more than excited to help the newest members of our team learn this same lesson about friendly competition.
My weekend started out on Saturday with the Arcadia/San Marino Speech & Debate Social. Our turnout was amazing- 41 people from both schools!
To start off, we introduced ourselves by saying our name, grade, events, and favorite TV show.
We had lunch at Islands and the bill turned out to be just under $600. Luckily, we were not short of money :) that’s a success in itself!
We originally planned on going bowling, but when we went to the 300 bowling alley, they were sold out! D: it was a bit frightening for me as one of the organizers to have such a large part of this excursion to simply not work out. Celina and I racked our brains to find an alternative to bowling, but it was difficult to think of something local that could accommodate 40 kids. Finally, she came up with a brilliant idea that would be both fun, cheap, and easy (logistically): organizing a flash mob.
I don’t know if you recall, but I made a post last summer about how much I love flash mobs. Something about the adrenaline rush with performing makes it so appealing (explains why I am an interp-er).
We decided to go to the local stores within walking distance (i.e. Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s) and disperse and mingle. Inspired by ImprovEverywhere, at a certain time we all froze in the middle of some action/motion for 4 minutes.
It was so much fun! People were freaking out, especially in Trader Joe’s which was way more crowded. The customers started trying to talk to us…some were praising our actions, some were confused, and some were angry. One woman ran up to the store manager in a frenzy and said, “Look at these kids! They’re frozen in time! What is going on??”
Around that time, we all unfroze and mingled for a bit before exiting the store. That’s Speech & Debate kids for ya :P (and a vlog later!)
After the flash mob, we found an empty parking lot and taught the San Marino kids our traditional tournament games of Ride That Pony and Gigolo!
It was great to see everybody come together across team lines and be able to realize that our competitors can also be our friends. It’s a lesson that has been reinforced everyday to me through swimming since I was eight years old, and a lesson that I continually strive to teach the students on the team.
It makes me cringe when people talk crap about other people on other teams, especially when people classify others by a certain stigma attached to a school. Competition is supposed to be a positive motivator that brings out the best in everybody. Some of the people I have met and competed against in Speech & Debate are my closest friends, and every round I compete in is so fun simply because I have a friend there, and most of the time they’re from another school.
To me, one of the most successful parts of this day was the fact that most of the people who showed up were Freshmen and Sophomores. Many of the seniors on our respective teams are already good friends, so it was important for us to establish that same friendly spirit among the younger members. So I’m happy about that :)
All in all, I was extremely pleased with this event…I arrived home to see everybody friending each other on Facebook and posting statuses and Tumblr posts raving about the hangout. It’s the start of a great journey and alliance between our teams :)
I’m booking flights for a trip in about 2 weeks and every time I refresh the page, the price of the flight I need to book hikes up. The first batch of tickets I bought was at $90. The 2nd batch was $120, and I just bought the last batch at $141.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES?
And don’t worry…constant refreshing does not make the price go lower. Trust me, I tried.
Man, I haven’t sat down to write a blog in a while. Things have not been as busy lately, but there’s still quite a bit to do so this will post will have to be short.
So, second semester is here! It’s kind of a relief right now to not have as much pressure. My mind often drifts to how quickly time will fly from here until moving out for college in August. It’s crazy to even think about it, but there’s still so much to do!
Happy Chinese New Year! We’re learning all about the customs and traditions involved with Chinese New Year in Mandarin 4, so I feel much more culturally aware right now LOL.
Like I mentioned before, I got a new phone! I finally joined the Google Android movement and I have got to say that I am extremely happy with my choice. I’ll make a more in-depth post later, but the Android phones centralize all the important things in my life into one neat package: email, social media, phone, calendar…the list goes on. This phone has already made my life so much more convenient in the few days I have had it, and I look forward to discovering its full potential in the coming weeks and months. I hope I don’t become a slave to technology, but I have to say that these gadgets have great benefits.
One thing I have utilized is the nice and sharp-looking to-do lists I downloaded from some apps. Those are a constant reminder that there is so much more to do! Even in second semester, juggling all the different activities is as time-consuming as always. Speech, Mock Trial, and Swim are all going to launch into full-swing in the next few weeks.
Oh, I am proud and happy that I synced my Google Calendar, iCal, and phone calendar…it is super handy and organized! It’s color coded and very complete hehe
This week is kind of a lull week between hectic January and mid-late February. Expect everything to pick up soon. Until then!