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Welcome to my blog, the online version of my life!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mushrooms and Bushwhacking

Today (Christmas Eve), my family and I took a hike to Bass Lake, one of our favorite walks, with "Michael the Mycologist" as we call him. (A mycologist is someone who studies mushrooms.) It was a lot of fun. The scenery is really amazing, with cliffs on one side going down to the sea.


 

Later along the trail we pass by shady woods. Proclaiming that this was the perfect mushroom habitat, Michael took us off the trail to explore. The needles on the ground formed a cushiony brown carpet.


And we did find the mushrooms. I got down at ground level to take photos of the mushrooms. I have a friend who loves mushrooms and thinks they are very cute. I now agree.



 I love these ones:


After we had been wandering about looking at mushrooms for a while off the trail, we decided to get back to the path. That involved bushwhacking down a steep hill covered in ferns and blackberry bushes. By the time I got back to the path I was exhausted and had moss in my hair.

And I saw some awesome non-mushroom things, like the rings of a tree stump.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We are halfway through Hanukkah and the day after tomorrow will be Christmas! We went to a friend's Hanukkah party the other night. I have some awesome facts about holidays that I learned online. They are neither lame nor obvious. First, the actual Santa Claus lived in the third century and gave money to people in need. Second, there is no one decided English-alphabet spelling for Hanukkah. Quite on the contrary, there are 17 of them. Chanuccah, Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukkah, Hanukka, Hannukka, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanukkah, and Khanukkah are all used occasionally, although only a couple  are generally accepted.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sing-Along Messiah

Last night Mom, Millie and I went to a really awesome thing called the Sing-Along Messiah. It's a performance of Handel's Messiah, but more fun. That's because the audience is the chorus. They handed out scores of the music to everyone and seated us according to voice type. There was also an orchestra, and several appointed soloists did the solo songs up on the stage. But when the songs for the chorus came, everyone sang. It was really neat. Occasionally I got lost, and a lot of the time I wasn't singing quite the right note. But even so, to sing great music with the rest of the audience/chorus was an amazing feeling. Rafie decided, at the last minute, not to come along because "I hurt my leg". Then when we had driven there for 20 minutes, he called us begging us to come back and get him. We didn't, because we didn't want to be late.
It is safe to say that 90% of the audience was more than 70 years old. I saw three other people in total who were less than 20, and two of them were babies who obviously weren't singing along. Most of them were (probably) in choruses, or used to be.
It was so great! Every song made me feel wonderful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Flosculous Curwhibble with Aprosexia Fleered Concinnously, and Other Language Stuff

I've just found a new source of old rare, and fun words! It is this page, and I think it's great. I have a new collection of words I'm trying to learn and say as much as possible. They are...
drumroll...
drumroll...
drumroll...
Flosculous, which means flowery; curwhibble, which is like whatchamacallit or thingamajig; aprosexia, which is an inability to pay attention (I know some people with it); fleer, which means to jeer or laugh at; and concinnous, which means neat and eloquent.
"A flosculous curwhibble with aprosexia fleered concinnously" doesn't make much sense, but it's a sentence I came up with that has all my new words in it! Oh, and the other day I used one of my Save the Words words on Mom. She thought that just because she didn't know it, it wasn't a word. Ha!

I've been working on some Computational Linguistics problems. Mom does them with me because she thinks they're very fun, which they are. They're also very hard. Computational Linguistics is a sort of Language/Logic hybrid. A typical problem will give you several sentences, words or phrases in a language that it is assumed you don't know, tells you the translation of each one, and asks you to figure out how to translate some other sentences, words or phrases into or out of that language. You have to study the words hard, figure out what means what and how the grammar system works. It's mostly logic, but a knowledge of languages really helps; mom wouldn't have figured out how the Gaelic counting system works if she didn't know how the French counting system worked (they would both say what translates to four twenties plus three for 83-- how confusing is that?), and I probably wouldn't have realized how Swahili noun declension works without knowing about Latin noun declension. Anyway, Computational Linguistics is really fun. Plus, the name is so cool. Just saying computational linguistics makes me feel smart.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I did not bring my camera when we went to the museum...

...and so of course I wanted to take a picture of everything there.  I asked Rafie if I could take a picture with his camera. But Rafie takes picture for no reason besides remembering the content. I finally convinced him to let me take the picture (he wanted to take it himself), but I didn't get the photo right and Rafie just said, "Eh. Looks fine to me," and took the camera back.
So that's why I have no photos for you, despite having seen reindeer, macaws, penguins and lots of other stuff at the California Academy of Sciences today. But it was awesome anyway. It was really crowded, but that was actually not a problem.
I will have photos of things not related to the Academy for you soon. I temporarily misplaced my camera somewhere in the house, but I'm sure it'll turn up soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

CTY

((Warning! Annoyed teenage rant!) I'm doing a Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth Online Course. Some of the assignments are really stupid! Right now my assignment is to add aliteration into a random essay I wrote months ago. Did they ever think that revising every sentence so there's aliteration might not be ideal for every essay ever written??

Make and Take Craft Fair!

The homeschoolers' Make and Take Craft Fair is going to be today. It is an event where homeschoolers put out craft booths. At some booths, kids sell crafts they've made. At others, people run craft activities, letting people do them for a fee. It's always very fun. I don't have anything to sell this year personally, but the rest of the Brainstorm Audio producers and I will be selling issues of Brainstorm Audio. We are considering making the files free on the website so that people who don't live near us could listen and so we could get  a bunch of people following our magazine. (We would still sell the CDs, because those cost money.)
If you're going to the Craft Fair, keep a lookout for the Brainstorm Audio booth!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laughing, though not out loud (l,tnol)

When I was googling something about World War One I saw that someone on Yahoo answers was asking a question concerning who was on which side in WWI and WW2. I'm sorry, i just seriously have to share some of the answers with you.


in both wars the Allies conisted of:

Fiji
Greenland
Iceland
The falkland Islands
Utah State

and the bad guys consisted of:

Christmas Island
Wales
Bangladesh
Nicuragua
Taiwan

(all courtesy of Wikipedia)

Three people rated it as "good".

Friday, December 2, 2011

NamProm Update

*Sighs.* I don't like NamProm! I lowered my goal from 5 pages per day to 3 pages per day.
So, here's another video of Parkour. (You should totally subscribe to Rafie's channel!) We were focusing on rolling and stuff. My blog is not about to turn into a Parkour blog; I'll probably post a couple more, but after that I will get bored with posting videos of Parkour and go back to posting other stuff.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fort Ross: Epic Peanuts, Ghosts, and Gardening... in 1812!

I spent last Monday and Tuesday with about 30 other homeschooled kids in the nineteenth century. Yes. The nineteenth century. Hickman organized a very cool trip to Fort Ross, where they have a historical re-enactment thing. During the overnight, we all played the roles of people who lived at Fort Ross when it was a Russian settlement in the nineteenth century. The group I was in, the Gardeners, planted lettuce and chard in the Fort Ross garden and wove baskets. Other groups did other things. The Cooks made the group's meals over an open fire. The Hunters fished and hiked. The Militia paraded around and learned to fire a cannon. The Artisans did craft projects. All the groups took hikes and wrote in journals from our characters' points of view. Both the Artisans and the Gardeners had a fair amount of free time around the fort, and since we were all friends the two groups naturally hung out.
Most of what we did when not busied by the planned activities was not very authentic.

I told ghost stories even though it was forbidden. "You'll scare the younger kids!" said the adults. Evelyn, Brigitte and I set out to convince people that there was something haunting Fort Ross. When people asked me how I knew, I said that my neighbor, who had been to Fort Ross, told me. Which was true.
Two twin boys who just joined Hickman Charter School in the eighth grade were quite intrigued, and in no time after I told them about the rumors of spirits who haunt the Kuskov House, they were giving me their own first-hand stories of how they had seen ghosts. Something invisible hitting Gabriel in the head. A rhythmic tapping on the second-floor window of Kuskov House. Shannon, being one of "the younger kids" was indeed terrified. When I found that she actually believed me, I made a point of telling her that the ghosts were usually perfectly safe to be around. In the evening there was time for music and storytelling, so I told the story I'd been planning. It was a Fort Ross version of a story I heard at the Trackers (outdoor education program) campout, a story about a madman with bright green eyes who had strangled people at various points in history. The best part was when my four accomplices in the audience grabbed the shoulders of whoever was in front of them, saying "Rarr!" Of course in the morning, the twins were telling me about the green eyes floating in the air outside the door.

The Gardeners tried to organize an Occupy Fort Ross movement. There was a Trade Store where after they've done their packing-up and chores, every kid can get a certain number of little trinkets (like candies or tea-paper). We were outraged that the kids in every group could get five items, except the Cooks, who got seven items. We rallied a few other groups into agreement and talked to the adults about it for some time. Our guide made several ridiculous arguments about why this was. First she told us that the cooks spent much more time cooking than any other group spent then any other group spent doing their work. I then made a speech about how this was morally arbitrary to Rawls; how the group we ended up in was not a result of our effort but of which group we were placed in based on our Top Three Choices.
The guide, though I heard her muttering about "homeschoolers, so precocious", tried to act grown-up and convincing. "It's not that we don't value your work as much, it's that the work you're doing isn't as hard." We all laughed at that one later. (In addition to being sort of paradoxical, it's such a different argument than her first one!)
We had no tents, but we tried to have a general strike. Then we realized that they wouldn't care at all if we did that, because they didn't actually need us. (In real Fort Ross it would've worked.) But we sold some sprigs of rosemary from the garden in the store. For some reason, people actually bought them, bringing our virtual money up to Cook level.

There was also something called the Peanut, which was the mascot of Gabriel's brand new secret cult "The Inner Shell". He, the twins, and several other artisans worshipped a sleeping bag with sunglasses on it, which they claimed resembled a peanut. They insisted that Xena, Brigitte and I see it too; eventually at least one person from each group at Fort Ross was part of the cult. Everyone else thought it was the dumbest thing ever. Xena tried to steal the Peanut, but she couldn't find it. Gabriel revealed the new location to Brigitte, who apparently caused a clamor by snatching it, running, and handing it to Clem.

I could tell you way more about any of these topics, but I fear if this post gets any longer I'll lose your attention. Fort Ross was awesome!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parkour: Problem Solving

In Parkour today, we did the most awesome thing ever: Team Problem Solving. Our teacher Zach explained Problem Solving is where he doesn't tell us how to get through a Parkour course, we just try to get through as quickly as possible. The Team part means that we were in teams of 3 and every member had to get through the course before it was considered completed. Shannon, Kyle and I were one team.

The first third of the course was easy for all of us. We could whiz through it without much trouble.
On the second third, however, we found that Shannon (being by far the smallest) could not climb a certain block that we had get up onto. We had to hoist her up and then, because she was afraid of dropping from a very high block, we had to lower her down. Fairly straightforward. It's Team Problem Solving, after all.
The third and final section of the course caused our biggest problem and our greatest victory. Right at the end of it, there were two blocks. We had to jump from one to the other without touching the floor. Kyle (the oldest and tallest) could do it easily, and I could do it after practicing a couple times, but Shannon just couldn't make the jump. At first Kyle and I were stumped at how to get her across. We tried giving her a leg up, even practically throwing her fron the first block to the second. Every try ended ridiculously and disastrously. Then Kyle had the crazy (or so I thought) idea of letting Shannon use him like a bridge. They are siblings, and Kyle often picks Shannon up and holds her upside down. So neither of them had any doubt at Kyle's strength, but I still thought it wouldn't work.
And the first time we tried, it didn't. Shannon couldn't figure out to get over without hurting Kyle, so they both collapsed to the ground. Zach said it was the funniest and best idea he'd ever seen, so we kept trying. When Shannon worked on it and I helped push her at the beginning, we finally got her over successfully. It was a little silly, but we did it.
Our parents got it on video and Rafie uploaded it to YouTube. The video itself is not the best thing in the world; it skips all the bits where I do anything except pick Shannon up, and you can't really see the blocks we're jumping on. But now that I've told you what we were doing, here it is:

NamProm

Right now you are probably thinking this:
Huh? Is NamProm some kind of prom?? Why is Sasha writing about a Nam Prom and where did her space bar go? Or is it one word? What's with the capitalization??
Well, NamProm is something that my mom invented today. It is National Math Problem Month, December. (National, Na; Math, m; Problem, pro; Month, m.) It's like just NaNoWriMo, a month of intensive dedication and work, only with my very least favorite subject instead of my very favorite one.
Mom wants me to get through a series of math workbooks I'm doing as soon as possible, so for NamProm I will (and my brother Rafie will, says Mom) figure out how many pages of our math books we need to do per day to get what we need to do done. To do NamProm you just need to set a goal of finishing any workbook/textbook/EPGY lessons, at whatever level you're at. It's going to be very... interesting, I guess. Now all we need is a page-count goal, a forum, and a group of NamPrommers (anybody want to be one of them?)...
Look, I even have the NamProm (NaNoWriMo knockoff) participant's badge:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Word Count Update!

I hit 20,000 words! I can't believe NaNoWriMo went so smoothly this year! (Also, in Thinking, Writing girl news, my blog now has 3,000 pageviews total!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo Book Cover

Hello! I see I have a new follower, so welcome whoever you are!
Arina, who saw the book cover I made for my NaNoWriMo novel, has remade it in her own awesome way. May I present the cover Arina made. (Insert applause here.)
By the way, National Novel Wring Month is going epically; I've written almost 14,000 words. Tomorrow I plan to pass the number of words I wrote total last year (14,500).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why I Haven't Posted Much

Here is why I have barely been posting anything longer than a couple sentences recently. I hope you will find that it is not only an adequate excuse but also an interesting post.
1. I am, as you know, doing NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I can brag (and will) that I have written 12,000 words in the last 12 days. I wrote 12,000 words total during NaNoWriMo two years ago.
2. I have school work! Homeschool Co-op is being fun, but it and the other things I'm doing are keeping me quite busy. I have a confession to make: I haven't written anything for the David Stromme writing class yet! i expect I never will. David Stromme probably wouldn't care much if I don't write anything.
If he does care, I can say, "Your assignment was to write something. Anything. I did write something. A 15,000-word something (as it will probably be by then)! Your assignment was not 'to write something I'm willing to share with the class', and I'm not ready to share my novel yet."
3. I went to Carmen! Last night, just after I started writing this post, it was time to head to the operahouse. we didn't get reservations for Millie's favorite restaurant around there, the Hayes Street Grill, in time. Then Caffe Delle Stelle said we hadn't made reservations for it-- even though we had-- and wouldn't give us a table.
Mom and Millie said, "They should have given us a table!"
Said I, "What, and take away another equally innocent reservation-maker's table? How is that any better except to us."
So we ate at the operahouse buffet, which was just fine. The food was good and it was right in the operahouse, where we wanted to be. Shouldn't buffet be short for buffeteria? Like cafeteria?
We had really good seats, Row B, the sort Millie gets all the time because she really loves opera and if she can't hear it up close it's not worth it. But mom usually gets a seat very far back. However this time she arranged for seats for Millie, Rafie, me, and herself in the front.  they recently raised the level of the orchestra pit, so we could see the orchestra. The conductor was highly entertaining. (I kept peeking at the clarinets.) The singing was really awesome and the sets were fantastic. All in all, Carmen was a great show. Mom said that the moral is "always listen to your mother". I think there are many other morals to draw from it, for Carmen and Jose. Like, "if your first thought about someone is "she's a witch, don't run off with her." (Don Jose.) Or, "Don't seduce nasty old soldiers constantly." (Carmen.)
I got back from Carmen at ten minutes past midnight and decided to finish this blog post in the morning.
4. Books! I've been reading when I have spare time, and what great books they are. I got two historical fictions from the library. I have finished (and loved) The Miner's Daughter by Gretchen Moran Laskas.

...and that is why I haven't posted much.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo and More

NaNoWriMo is going well, though I got a little behind on word-count yesterday. I didn't have time to writing everything I had to write yesterday and went to Hickman Charter School, thinking I would write the rest in the evening. For reasons that were not preferable, my family ended up staying at my friends' house afterward. I did not have my computer for writing on, and I didn't get back until about an hour ago. So i'm a bit behind on word count, but I'm getting there.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hahaha

This is an odd picture I took a while back. It's sort of old, but I think it's pretty funny/sarcastic so here it is:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo

Oh my gosh. It's the first day of National Novel Writing Month. Yay! Let's celebrate and then remember that we should actually write during NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

Bleh!
Sooooooooooooo much candy in my bag. I am obviously not going to eat it all tonight.

Stanford Splash!!

I had an awesome time at Stanford Splash! Splash is a thing where students at Stanford teach classes to middle and high school kids. A small area at Stanford is devoted to Splash, and we walk around going to really cool classes. The campus is beautiful!

The classes are good. I took lots of classes I enjoyed over the weekend that is Splash, such as a class called "The World's Largest Rodent, Dr. Seuss Birds, and Other Amazonian Oddities". The teacher had just come back from a few months in Peru, studying the animals of the Amazon rainforest. She showed us her pictures of the animals and told us about them. Did you know that the world's largest rodent, the capibara, is considered a fish in Peru, just so it can be eaten on Catholic holidays?
My favorite class was Introduction to Photography. The teacher talked about visual effects that make a nice photograph and how to create them, then took us outside to try them out. We were given assignments for our photos. The first assignment was to take a picture of a flower straight on. I took several, and here's one.

Next we had to take pictures of people. Awwwww.

Next we paired up and posed each other. I took some good pictures of my partner, a sweet kid named Maryam.




Then the assignment was to do a group photo shoot, and Maryam offered to be the model. At first it was a bit awkward, but then she laughed and laughed and laughed. I;m sure everyone got several pictures of Maryam laughing.

That was my last class. Eventually the group goofed off, and by the end we were all laughing too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Parkour-related things

I tried to wall-run up the side of my house, but my house is very different from the tall triangular blocks at parkour. For one thing, it's way slipperier. My feet slipped right off it and I slid down it. For another thing, it has splintery shingles. Ouchhhhhhh.
Stanford SPLASH starts tomorrow! Hooray! I'll tell you all about it afterward. (By the way, hi there new followers!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things I Am Not Prepared For

1. Halloween! I have really not worked on my banana slug costume at all. Oh well, I do have a backup costume: a dead person. I would dress the way I always do, but with a little fake blood. I'd ring the doorbell and then lie in front of the door looking dead. When they got freaked out and started to call 911, or went back inside (depending on the effectiveness of my trick), I would get up and say "Trick or treat!"

2. NaNoWriMo... my plot is not ready, I feel like I don't like my plot, and I'm unimaginably busy even without trying to write over 600 words a day. I am worried that I will quit NaNo a week in. On the other hand, I never get out my longer ideas if I don't have the pressure of NaNoWriMo. So what to do, what to do? Here is my NaNoWriMo book's "cover picture" that I made. (It's going to be about some kids doing NaNoWriMo.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

High School!

I visited CPS (the College Preparatory School) today. It looks like a great place with lots of dedicated students. Every student I talked to said they liked school and the classes were actually fun. I haven't visited any other schools yet, so I'll see how other schools compare.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Save Save the Words

One of my favorite websites, http://www.savethewords.org/ has mysteriously disappeared. It was really cool too, a website with underused words. I learned the words quaeritate, mingent, senticous, keleusmatically, boreism, and essomenic from it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Question

Hi followers,
I might or might not change to a different blog template, because this one feels a little weird with all the background color. If I changed I'd keep the same abstract orange image, but it would only be at the top where the header is, not behind the posts, and there wouldn't be the transparent strips. What do you think? Is the background and all the photos too much? Please comment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning to Lie

There is an exercise in a writing class I'm doing called Learning to Lie. You write three paragraphs, each about a fact about yourself. Two of the facts must be true, and one must be false. Here's what I wrote. If you know me, do you think I chose facts well? If you don't know me, can you tell which one is false?


1. I have a pet macaw named Flame. My parents got him for me for my seventh birthday, and I think I named him that because the feathers on his head and neck are flame-colored. I had an idea that if I got a parrot I could teach it to talk and sit on my shoulder, but Flame never has said anything that sounded like a human word. He does sit on my shoulder when I put him there, but he always flaps off after a few seconds.
2. My grandmother used to own a one-hundred-year-old Sartori violin bow. She inherited it from somebody—I don’t know who—and it sat around with her violin for ages. A couple years ago she wanted to take up violin again, since she hadn’t played for a long time. But when a violin expert saw her bow, she found out how valuable it was. She sold it and it paid for a vacation to Italy.
3. I have written a novel every year for the last three years. I do a yearly writing challenge called NaNoWriMo where I set a goal for how many words I want to write, and then write a novel in a month. The first time I did it I wrote about 5,000 words in the whole month. The second I wrote 12,000 words, and the third time I wrote 15,000 words.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yosemite!

Prepare yourself for a really long post!
My family spent the weekend in Yosemite, along with the Mnookin-Dienstags, who have a son Solomon's age, Isaac, and a daughter about my age, Sophia. We all had a great time, and I took a lot of pictures of the park's nature.
 On the first day we all hiked to Vernal Falls, which three people fell from recently and died. While we were there, divers were trying to find the bodies. But don't worry, it's not as scary as that. These were stupid people who crossed the fence, waded in the river, and were pulled by the current. Then someone else tried to save them and fell over too. Do you see the moral??
Yosemite has tons of waterfall, and we had a clear view of Nevada Falls (another waterfall) from the trail.
 And here is Vernal Falls:
 When we reached the end of the trail, on top of the falls, I took some pictures...
...but my foot hit my backpack, lying on the ground. My camera's case fell out and-- before I could even reach toward it-- slid across the rock and over the waterfall.
"Sasha, your camera case!" Rafie said.
"Damnit." I laughed. I placed my camera back in my backpack and moved away from the edge.

At the campsite, there are a lot of squirrels!
The next day we took a shorter hike, up Sentinel Dome, a large rock with an awesome view of Yosemite!
 Solomon climbed on a tree famous for Ansel Adams' photograph of it, which has now fallen over but is still extremely beautiful. (May I add that, throughout the trip, I was really awed by Adams' photos of Yosemite!)
 The river:
 On the last day we biked, without the Mnookin-Dienstags, to the impressive Yosemite Falls.
 I scrambled over rocks toward it.
 And eventually, from just beneath it, took this photo:
At the very end of the trip (today), we all ate a buffet brunch at the Ahwahnee hotel (where we were not staying, we just went there for brunch). The food there is really good! I filled my plate with a little of many things, then went back to get some desserts afterwards. I was stuffed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photographs!

Here are some photos I just took in the garden:

 And there are a whole lot where those came from:
Is this beautiful or what?
 A spider, hanging onto a spiderweb that my camera is can't see well enough to capture:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Siamese Twins, Ice Cream, and Pinky Swears

I don't think I've been posting enough fiction recently, so here's a story I wrote.



Take it from me, you should never make promises to someone who’s got a long memory. Promises are a little tricky sometimes. Okay, more than a little tricky.

When I was little, my favorite place ever was Sandra’s Ice Cream Shop. On Fridays after school, our older brother Bryan would walk me and my Siamese twin Tyler down to Sandra’s. Now don’t ask me what it’s like having a Siamese twin, because we got separated as babies. Tyler’s pinky toe is fake, but other than that Tyler is a normal boy and I am a normal girl.
Anyway, Bryan took us to the ice cream place for the first time when we were six. Tyler and I both picked mint flavor, and watched as the saleslady pushed scoopfuls of bright green ice cream into our cones. We each handed her three dollar bills and tasted the sweet, cold ice cream.
“I bet we’ll always be best friends,” said Tyler. “Hey, let’s pinky-swear it!”
“Why?” I asked. “We’ll always be best friends anyway.”
“Just ‘cause,” said Tyler as we sat down in the plastic chairs under the Sandra’s Ice Cream sign. “I like pinky-swearing.” We had learned to pinky-swear at school a few weeks ago, and had pinky-swore whenever possible. In fact, at our school, there was an ongoing argument between the kids who said “pinky swear” and those who said “pinky promise”, so pinky-swearing was a good way of showing our loyalty.
“Me too,” I decided, and held out my pinky finger. He grabbed it with his own pinky finger.
“I pinky-swear that we’ll always be best friends,” we chanted.
Tyler has the best memory of anyone I know.
...
“But like, everyone knows Jade likes Timothy,” said Genevieve.
We were sitting on the couch in the room that Tyler and still I had to share, even though we were twelve.
“Really?” asked Olivia W, leaping off the couch. She has a reputation for overreacting, and she has this long black hair that falls in her face constantly. “Are you serious, Gen? I’d never have expected it!”
Genevieve shrugged. “Yeah, opposites attract and stuff.”
Olivia C nodded thoughtfully. Olivia C is Olivia W’s exact opposite, super quiet. Maybe that means opposites do attract, with the two Olivias being good friends.
Olivia W flung her arms around to make her point, but really it just made her bracelets go clink, clink, clink! “Yeah, I guess, but still…”
The green doorknob turned—the whole room was painted pastel green—and Tyler pushed the door open. He stared. “Sky,” he said to me, “Why are so many of your friends in our room?” He looked curiously at Olivia W, who was standing near the couch, her bangles clinking.
I looked around the room and shrugged. “They aren’t ‘so many’,” I said. “Just three. You haven’t met Genevieve yet, have you?”
“Um, no,” said Tyler, frowning for some reason. “Hi.”
“Tell your brother to leave, Sky!” said Olivia W.
“We’re having a girl conversation,” Olivia C said with a giggle.
“Okay, whatever.” Tyler left, closing the door behind him.
“I swear he likes you, Liv,” Genevieve told Olivia W. “Liv” is Olivia W’s nickname. (Olivia C can’t stand nicknames, though “Liv” and “Gen” have a dozen names for each other.)
Olivia W punched the air. “Cool! I always wanted to get crushed on!”

That night I lay in bed, thinking about nothing more than whether Tyler did like Olivia W. I doubted it. On the other hand Genevieve had a good eye for figuring out who likes who...
A voice began speaking, and I clapped a hand over my mouth. I had completely forgotten that Tyler’s bed was right on the other side of the bedroom.
“’Always’ isn’t six years, Sky,” he was saying. Sleep talking? No, he didn’t talk in his sleep. “Don’t you remember we promised we’d be best friends, always? We’re twins, Sky. You do remember, right?”
I sat up, and saw that Tyler was very much awake. I guessed I had to answer. “Yeah, I remember. It was while we ate our mint ice cream. So?”
So you pinky-swore that we’d always be best friends!” Tyler said.
“I know, but that was ages ago. We were little kids! You’re talking about Genevieve and the Olivias, right?” I prompted.
Tyler nodded, the beam of light from the window illuminating the top of his head.
“Well, Tyler, just ‘cause we’re Siamese twins doesn’t mean I can’t have other friends as well—“
“Not frickin’ friends who’re frickin’ mean!”
“Wow, two frickin’s in one sentence,” I joked.
“What. Ever. Tell your brother to leave, Sky!” he said in a falsetto. “Like I wasn’t even listening? I don’t like your friends, Sky, and it’s only going to get worse. Don’t forget, we’re Siamese twins. We were one person, once upon a time.”
“And don’t forget, even Siamese twins can’t choose each other’s friends,” I said. “Good night, Tyler.”

The next day at school I thought about what Tyler had said. Little things upset him so much! Even at the end of the school day I wasn’t sure whether Tyler had overreacted just like Olivia W, or whether what my friends had said really was just the beginning. Either way, I had to choose between my brother and my friends.
I decided to put off the decision.

“Do you want to get ice cream with us, at Sandra’s Ice Cream?” Genevieve asked just after school, when I was walking to the bus.
“Who’s us?” I asked.
“Me and like, the Olivias,” she said.
Oh man, did I have to choose so soon? Without thinking I blurted out, “Can my brother Tyler come?”
“Hmm,” said Genevieve. “It’d probably be more fun without him. Why do you want him to come along?”
I wondered how to explain it in a way that wouldn’t make Genevieve go, ‘You suck’, ‘stand up to him’, or ‘you’re too emotional’. After a moment I said, “I just think he’d like to come. He’s actually really fun!”
Genevieve shrugged. “Sure, he’s got to be fun if you think so, and he’s got enough taste to like Olivia.”
“Taste?” I laughed. “How does liking Olivia show taste?” It felt odd, talking about Tyler as a member of the opposite sex, as someone who might like a girl, as anyone but my other half.
When we got on the bus, I found Tyler and told him the plan.
“We’re going to Sandra’s. You can come with us if you want.”
“Well…” Tyler frowned, just like he had in our room.
I glanced at Genevieve and the Olivias in the next row of seats and lowered my voice. “Just give them a chance, okay?”
He nodded, uncertain.

We all got off the school bus at Tyler’s and my house, and walked over to Sandra’s Ice Cream. Tyler seemed to relax when we walked in the door under the Sandra’s Ice Cream sign. I got mango ice cream and Tyler got mint, but we each had a bite of the other’s. I hoped my friends wouldn’t think that was gross, but I realized that I didn’t care all that much. As we traded bites we shared a look that said silently: I swear that we’ll both make friends, and we’ll still be as close as we ever were.

WAB

Okay, so I got into WAB (Winds Across the Bay), and last night was the first rehearsal. The music is really hard (think triplets, sixteenth notes, trills, constant time changes), but I think it'll be easier once I practice it. The good news is that a very friendly clarinet coach sits right next to me, so I can follow her. And it's fun. If you play a wind instrument you should totally try it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Swim Team

Today we went to Swim Team. There was a little kid named Clementine (not the Clementine any of you know; it's pronounced Clem-en-teen). She said to a girl named Lila: "Are you chewing gum?" I was pretty sure that chewing gum during swim team was not allowed.
"No," said Lila.
"I saw something bright orange in your mouth," Clementine told her.
"It was my tongue." There's no way Clementine could have mistaken a tongue for gum, unless Lila had recently eaten bright orange candy during swim team and it stained her tongue.
"It was really orange," said Clementine.
At this, Lila shot her friends Ridley and Abby a clever look and burst into obviously fake tears. She buried her face in her hands. "It was my tongue," she said. "I know it's different from other peoples', but please don't make fun of me." she kept fake-crying. Clementine looked like she wasn't sure whether or not to believe Lila.
"See what you've done?" said Ridley. "She'll be like this for two hours now! Lila's very sensitive about her tongue..."
Abby was pretending to comfort Lila. "There, there. It's okay, Lila. We'll get you a tongue transplant soon enough." Lila was a terrible actress, but Abby seemed like a decent one.
Some of Lila's other friends, and I, watched. I was horrified! Lila and Abby were putting on a totally unrealistic show-- and Ridley was trying to make Clementine feel bad-- just so Lila wouldn't stop having to chew her gum! And... a bright orange tongue? What kind of stupid story is that?
But a while later the teacher found out, and asked Lila to throw her gum away. I felt sort of satisfied.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Very Strange Day

Yesterday we had one of those homeschooled teen gatherings. We took a ferry to San Francisco, and we had no idea how much fun we would have there until it happened.
The other people on the ferry probably thought of us as insane. We stood on the top deck and deliberately faced the strong wind, talking loudly over it and eating candy. Our "chaperones" were on the deck below. The ferry sped along, and soon we landed at the ferry building. After playing around there for a while, seeing large mushrooms, sampling olive oil for no particular reason, and sneaking up on pigeons and pretending to feed them; we kept going.
First we went to this awesome fountain that is right across the street from the ferry building. The fountain has a path of stepping stone type things, so you can walk through the fountain and between the jets of falling water. There are also railed walkways at the top of the fountain, so you can look down. You have to get a little wet to enjoy the fountain, but only a little. But after hanging out there for a while, Brigitte noticed a seagull wing in the water. Someone pointed out that there was also a seagull HEAD. Suddenly walking between waterfalls of seagull-marinated water that a hobo or two had probably bathed in wasn't so appealing.

We wanted to go up the glass elevator in the Hyatt hotel, but there were some workers carrying signs out front, marching in a circle. STRIKE! Hotel workers unite! said the signs. We decided to ask the strikers why they were striking. Someone explained that at Hyatt they had to work very hard. While one person at another hotel might have to clean 14 rooms, they had to clean 30. Then we spent five minutes marching in a circle with them, holding signs. The strikers were definitely glad we wanted to help. After five minutes, according to some of the other kids, management decided that if a bunch of teens were helping out, too many people would side with the strikers. So a woman in an important-looking suit came and said, "Hi, we want this to be an educational experience for you, so you should know both sides." The other kids and I stopped for a while to listen. The woman said that at this hotel the workers did not have to work harder than those at other hotels. She told us that they had been trying to reach a compromise.
"She was talking, but she wasn't really saying anything," Evelyn said later, multiple times. We all agreed (after we left the strike area, worried that some of us would side with management and others with the workers) that she hadn't given us any real information. She had just talked about how they were hoping to work toward a compromise, and how the workers did get treated okay.
Either Brigitte or Ursula (Like a good blogger, I forget who I'm quoting!) said that she had helped the workers, but felt like leaving when she noticed cameramen and thought she might get on TV, and someone she knew might see it.
And (reminded by Evelyn) we met the World's Funniest Toilet. It had AUDIO INSTRUCTIONS! Is that ridiculous or what? It also had lots of rules to prevent homeless people from settling down in it, so the doors would open every 20 minutes and whoever was in there had to leave, and then it would automatically clean the floors and toilet seat. And only one adult is allowed in at a time, but kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Still, the audio instructions are definitely the funniest.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winds Across the Bay

I did my audition today for Winds Across the Bay, a winds/brass/percussion band, and it went great! I'm looking forward to being in the band! The conductor said that every month some professionals come in and that a professional clarinetist will help us! Is that cool or what.
Mom is singing "Shoot the buffalo" in the background. (Co-op people will know what I'm talking about. The rest of you... must be bewildered.) It's a hilarious song we heard on a CD of historical songs from the railroad era, and it's about two things: dancing and shooting buffalos.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Brainstorm Audio

We're having a Brainstorm meeting right now, with the Brainstorm Audiomagazine people. We've finished issue two and we'll soon start work on issue three. So get an issue!
Please :D

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kayaking!

Last weekend we went kayaking on the American River. We had an awesome time flying through frothy rapids and playing around at the campsite. Once, my boat flipped over! I bumped into a rock and the current tipped my small kayak over. I was okay, though, because I swam the rest of the rapid and climbed onto the boat of Clem, who helped me recover my boat.
  Each afternoon we played at the campsite. It was super hot, but that was easily remedied:

 There was a bit of fighting:
 And a bit of civilized talking:
 I solemnly apologize for being gross:

So the mornings were spent kayaking and the afternoons spent playing. At night, after Rafie told dirty jokes (and Ev and I tried to ward off Solomon and Greta so their innocent minds wouldn't be corrupted) the three big girls (Ev, Clem and I) slept in our own tent! We went into the three-man tent (which anywhere from three to seven kids would hang in at a time) to tickle each other, sing Tom Lehrer songs, discuss why Clay Bump is a bad name for a dragon, and fall asleep.
This is a picture I took when Clem was bending over and her hair fell in front of the boy Sasha's face. Doesn't it look like he's wearing a wig?
 

Friday, September 2, 2011

School

Yay! Even for homeschoolers, the school year has begun. So many classes and activities. I'll be quite busy. The other day at Co-op we went to a place called Pardee House and learned about the Pardees, some that lived in Oakland from 1869 until 1981, from a strange old guy who said things like:
--"Do you know what a dictionary is?"
--"Oh, but you kids probably didn't even know that women weren't allowed to vote back then." (I was absolutely sure that even six-year-old Greta knew that.)
--And "Do you guys know right and left?"
He wore glasses, had a wrinkly face, and was even smaller than I am. I drew a caricature of him:
Next to him I wrote his name and c. 4'8" tall.
Later, on Evelyn and Arina's requests, I drew in speech bubbles of the underestimating things he had said. After the tour we tried to figure out how to say "the teacher thinks we are stupid" in Latin. ("Gramaticus cogit, stulti sumus?")
I know that this is mean and you should not do it, but you know, he was sort of treating us like we were half the age of the youngest person there. So, sorry docent.

School supplies!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two thousand pageviews! Hooray!
(Did you know that Hooray was originally a Mongol battle cry? Yep, that's right. Genghis Khan would have marched into the fight saying "hoorayyyy!")

Pencil Sharpener

A small blade--
Digging in slightly,
Shaving away any imperfect curlicues
Of wood;
Edged with yellow paint--
Cuts
Painfully
And brings things out
The sharper.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black

Look to the river, see smooth water like black glass, still and in the dark.
Look to where the black treetops meet the blue evening sky.
Look into the forest, let your eyes sink into the blackness, the invisible world hidden in the dark.
Look down
At your own shadow.