Monday, April 17, 2017

One-On-One Tutoring

After I came back home from a tiring day of robotics, I immediately took a nap since there was
Robot from the day because
#roboticsislife and shameless
club promo 
time before Don came....and then I didn't wake up, even from the loud doorbell. Luckily, some screams from my parents downstairs woke me up and I ran downstairs after quickly combing through my hair with my hands.

Don told me right away that everything he will talk about should be review and that I should know the answers to his test questions. To be completely honest, a wave of nostalgia washed over me, mixed with excitement and a little bit of sadness. (I know, that's so many emotions.) I remembered the tutorial from last year and how many memories I made in it from having photoshoots with everyone to how Komal and I cried in our practice blogs about how we couldn't attend prom. I really wished I could relive those fun portions of the tutorial once more. Then, excitement rushed through me because I realized the tutorial meant that the ILC TRIP IS ALMOST NEAR. Not really, but almost. It hadn't properly struck me until this very moment that I was actually going to UChicago this summer. This then somehow led to a huge chain of memories from my last ILC trip: memories that no matter what, I could never forget. (Shout-out to Jackie, Jae, Edward, and Mom Thomas!)

Candid side portrait of Don, Dad, and little brother

After a quick sentimental five minutes, I simply focused on what Don was telling me. Between now and then, we ended up gossiping a little about the current seniors and how college actually works. To be clear, we talked of how great all the seniors this year are and the many great things so many of them have accomplished. My family and I even learned important lessons and tips for how college works and what you should do. 

After about an hour and a half, or two hours, Don left the house, and we all continued about our businesses. For now, I'll just have to wait until the dinner so I could get to feel that excitement saying "Woah, you're actually going to UChicago!!"

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Don vs. Technology (0-1)

I arrived at De Anza for our tutorial at 7:55 AM, which was not that early, but still pretty good. I believe in myself that one day I will master the art of arriving 15 minutes early to events. Today was obviously not the day yet, but I’m getting there. This was a fairly decent start.

What did not have a decent beginning was our tutorial. Right off the bat we ran into computer problems. There were way more computers than people in the room, but by the end of the tutorial, we almost had to try every single computer because most of us had had to change computers at least once since something wouldn’t be working right – be it failure to log in, no internet connection, etc. But not only were our computers not working, Don’s computer was not either, and it was a struggle getting things to work.

Eventually, we began the tutorial anyway and Don introduced us to Good Don, Evil Don, and Guantanamo Don – a very nice family – though the only one I will probably ever want to see is Good Don.

Then, we also talked about phone calls and phone call etiquette, which I believe I may have broken a few times. It’s very true, though, that it is much easier to communicate when there’s back and forth feedback immediately. We also went over formatting and how to write our blogs. We practiced on Don’s Practice Blog, and I wrote (ranted) some nonsense about Kong: Skull Island.

I could tell when all of us got more comfortable with each other. When we first began in the morning, it was mostly quiet. Gradually, there was more chatting across the room, and it was clear we were getting to know each other better and having fun. We called Lindsay out for typing “Red Vines” as one word on her practice blog, though in her defense and my opinion, Redvines did look aesthetically better as one word. I still don’t understand why people like that stuff, though. Raqueeb said he ate it because he was hungry, but how does colored pieces of rubber disguised as candy fill one’s belly? I stuck with my chocolate chip cookies, which, to be fair, were just as likely to give some Type II diabetes.

After practicing how to write our blogs, we moved on to the next topic: cameras! Don talked about cameras for a little bit, then he set us loose for a short break where we had to take pictures outside.
A chain of cameras...a coincidence!? (It's not.)
Bianche and I shared a camera. I have no photography skill to speak of, so I spent the time we were supposed to be taking pictures awkwardly snapping photos of anything and everything. Often, I just let BIanche take the pictures. Otherwise, I took spontaneous photos of my fellow ILCers – who, I might add, are photogenic, every single one of them. It is really not fair how people can look good in pictures without trying (some of you may recall the last time I met with my cohort and how well my pictures turned out).

I can tell that I have no idea what I’m actually doing while I was being the photographer, though, because the whole time, I felt like a tourist at a zoo taking pictures, which is, I would imagine, not how you are supposed to feel while you take pictures of people. I apologize to my fellow ILCers. They did not deserve this. Fortunately, some of the pictures I took did turn out surprisingly okay. 
Break over, back to work
We headed back inside after break. Don had us play around with Mediafire for a while, learning about naming files and how to upload. We spent a bit of time on this. Then, Don discussed the items we need for our trips and what to expect. I have never lived through a summer that is rainy, so I guess that will be a first for me. Apparently, the Chicago dorms are pretty awesome. Yay! 

We learned about laptop security cables and tried putting it on a laptop; we also had to put the cable back into the red pouch, and all of us got to talk and socialize with each other a bit more while we were waiting for our turns, so that was pretty cool. 

After that, the tutorial was over. I helped out with demobilizing, and I took down the banner with the help of Raqueeb and Zunarah. I got to be the one who cut the zip ties, so I was very happy (even though I had to stand on a chair to reach the top ones).  

We learned a lot of important, useful information today at tutorial. However, for me, the time I spent bonding with my new friends (beyond just my cohort) was just as – and perhaps even more so – valuable and priceless. 

A Successful Tutorial, Despite Setbacks

I got to De Anza High School, where the tutorial was held, at around 7:45 AM. Don, Evan, Cameron, and Madison were setting up the ILC sign with Don’s fake college insignias on the front gate.  Everyone else started arriving soon after, and the majority of the group had arrived by 8:00 AM, at which point Don led us to the computer lab to begin the tutorial.
The exterior of De Anza High School
The tutorial seemed to be well-planned and would probably have progressed really smoothly if the technology in the room had worked. First, a lot of people had trouble actually logging on to the computers, so there was a lot of movement as people tried to find functioning machines. My computer, thankfully, was serviceable from the start and for the rest of the day, so I was in the same seat for the whole tutorial. Because of the technical issues, we only really began the tutorial close to 9:00. While we were waiting, Cameron (who was sitting next to me) and I looked ahead at the tutorial packet. Honestly, even though Don had sent us an email mentioning the heftiness of the packet, I was surprised by the depth and detail of it. It was 52 pages of information covering everything we needed to know about our trip from blogging protocol to what we needed to pack to security.

The first thing we learned about was the blogging process. Don explained to us the importance of formatting, and analyzed both good and bad examples of how our posts should look. After his explanation, we wrote our own quick little posts just to make sure we understood everything he said. I wrote about the snacks he brought, which were Red Vines, chips, and cookies, because I was kind of hungry and food was all I could think about. The blog post, which was essentially a throwaway, actually helped me to realize what exactly makes Twizzlers more appealing to me than Red Vines (Twizzlers are more plasticy, which makes them more entertaining to eat).

After we learned about blogging, Don taught us a little about photography, post-processing, and the importance of having a camera besides the one on our phones. We then went outside to take some photos. All of the other cohorts took photos in front of the ILC banner with their group, but we decided not to because Jahnvi wasn’t there. I took one of the school and a couple of Noor.
Noor casually kneeling on a street curb
We went back inside after our little photoshoot, and Don taught us how to upload to Mediafire, which is the storage platform that we will use to share our photos with him and the rest of the cohort this summer. My photos were NEF images, so it took a while for them to upload. Even so, I still managed to get them up. Not everyone had the same luck. A lot of people had to move again at this stage because of the finicky school connection. After everyone finished uploading their images to the shared Mediafire folder, we inserted photos into the blog post Don had us do  earlier to make sure that we could all properly format a blog post with images.

After the Mediafire situation was figured out and Don was happy with everyone’s posts, we had another break. After the break, Don started telling us about what kind of items we could/should loan for our trip and the purpose of each of these items. My personal favorites were the Gorillapod and the security cable. The Gorillapod is basically this mini tripod that has flexible legs, so you can wrap it around objects like poles or trees or just use it normally to take clear photos at slower shutter speeds. It seems like a cool extra to have just in case you might need a tripod but don’t feel like carrying around 3 feet of metal and plastic. I had never actually heard of a laptop security cable before the tutorial, and it looked really useful. The cable itself has a “lock” end with a small rod and a combination lock and a noose end to help anchor the cable. The way it works is that the cable is tied around a chair or table leg, and the rod is inserted into a small port on the side of a laptop. If the rod is forcefully removed from the laptop, it pretty much ruins the whole computer, so it’s fairly effective at deterring theft.

The tutorial was concluded at around 1:00 PM with a demonstration by Don on how to use a laptop security cable. Before I left, I took down the banner out front with Zunarah and Cecilia. I thought it was an interesting coincidence that the first ILC-related thing I witnessed was the raising of the banner, and the last was the tearing down of it.

All in all, the tutorial wasn’t a bad experience, although it definitely would have been more pleasant if all of the technology was functioning from the beginning. I learned a lot about writing and formatting blog posts and about the different loaner items available to us, and I also got closer to some of my fellow ILCers.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

It Looks so Much Better Written "Redvines"

I woke up at 5:30 this morning for the ILC tutorial. Which I admit is at the very least a bit over the top, but I managed to show up later than I wanted at 7:53, somehow. The tutorial was set to begin at 8, but of course none of the technology wanted to work! A few people had to move away from computers that didn't work from the very start, more had to move from computers without functioning internet, and finally only two rows of computers had working USB ports so we had to move to upload pictures. Sadly, it wasn't only the computers the ILCers were using that were having problems. Don was having issues connecting to the projector and eventually had to switch to a different laptop. By the time we actually got down to business it was nearly 9 am.

We got into the lengthy packet that Don had printed out for all of us, going over everything from emails to dinners, eventually moving into blogs and pictures. That's when we got into the fun part. By looking over the blog formatting we should follow, and writing practice blogs, we tried to make it clear to Don we knew the formatting.

I made my little practice blog post about Redvines. Yes, I wrote Redvines as one word. It should be written Red Vines, but it looks better as one word. Redvines. 

Noor and Amelia just chilling
Moving on, Don taught us how to take better photos and his opinion on phone cameras(they're nothing compared to any camera), then set us loose on a break to take pictures outside. We roamed around and took pictures of each other fooling around and modeling. Cohorts were taking pictures together, but sadly Jahnvi couldn't be there today, so no cohort pictures for us. We found a nice wall to take pictures with some green in the background!

Heading back inside, we learned how to upload to MediaFire. Don told us about dorms (apparently the UChicago ones are great!) and what to bring. We finished at around 1 with learning how to use laptop security cables, and some cleaning up.
Esmeralda the model