[IOI 2014 Part 4] Shades of Xanthous

No, I didn’t forget. Not for one minute. I was doing homework. I am very happy because that means I was actually carrying out my priorities as I envisioned them. I’ve probably edited this post too many times, though. Meh. But it’s the first weekend after finishing summer homework, so here we go again!

Fun fact: This is by far my favorite post title in the entire series. Possibly in the entire history of this blog.


In the morning of the last day of official IOI activities, there were a bunch of cultural activities, e.g. writing Chinese characters calligraphically, doing tricks with the diabolo, or picking up beans with chopsticks, and noncultural activities, e.g. getting somebody to pour water into a cup on your head while he or she was blindfolded. Due to the last activity I got wet, but my shirt dried really quickly. And alas, even though I had taken calligraphy summer classes a long time ago, my calligraphy was awful — robotic, lifeless strokes without the right aesthetic proportions to make up for it. Blargh.

Anyway, lunch followed, and then it was time for the closing ceremony, in the same building as the other ceremonies and contests. Our team caught the ending song of in a Chinese musical being rehearsed as we walked into the auditorium. While we waited for everybody, we milled about waving flags that our various teachers had brought, including not only Taiwan’s flag but also flags of my school, thoughtfully brought by teachers who had volunteered. A little later our leader told us that all the leaders had discussed the matter during a meeting and decided that we shouldn’t bring any flags to the stage while receiving our medals, so we were going to have to make do with being patriotic and school-respecting off stage.

There were a few performances, including two aboriginal music performances and the musical we had seen rehearsed ealier, which was a fun rock musical rendition of some Chinese tale that seemed to have been sharply abridged, giving it the plot depth of a Wikipedia stub-article synopsis — a conflict, boy-meets-girl-and-falls-in-love, and a lamenting Aesop song conclusion with thrillingly vague general applicability. But the singing and counterpointing and atmosphere were good. I guess it was proportional to the relative importance of the performance to the closing ceremony. The program interleaved them with the long-awaited medal presentations: one round of bronze medalists, one round of silver, one round of gold.

Dum-dum-dum-dum, medals! The home team advantage was really obvious here; the cheering and the medal-presenter handshakes were both significantly more forceful for Taiwan’s medalists.

I think our leader made this. Thanks.

I think our leader made this. Thanks.

Naturally, after the normal medals had been exhausted, the three full scorers received bags with prizes that may forever remain unknown to my sorry self, as well as a standing ovation from everybody in the auditorium. The orchestra had been going through ABBA songs during the ceremony, and very considerately played “The Winner Takes It All” for this part. It was impossible not to mentally fill in the lyrics.

The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It’s simple and it’s plain
Why should I complaiiiiiiiin?

Speeches followed. Most were just average forgettable speeches, but Forster gave another speech that was somehow even better than the one he gave at the opening ceremony, with nonstop golden quotables such as:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Music

Isn’t it weird to suddenly talk about this topic?

I don’t think that I have ever talked about music any more than briefly in passing. It might be confusing to my *finger quotes* audience, and I worry I’ll seem inconsistent.

Well, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. If you wonder, “I didn’t know that you sang and played the piano, or you liked music in that way — or, at all… ” please note that I didn’t know either.

Continue reading

Transition

If everything goes well, last Thursday was the last vincristine and dexamethasone treatment.

Behind the big generic drug names, what this really means to me is that these couple of days will be the last serious suffering: the last segment of abstract unjustified misery, the last random bout of lack of energy, the last bits of spontaneous back pain — but also, the last opportunity to blame any of those bad feelings on an external chemical source. The last milestone like this was my final lumbar puncture. At last, the regimen is transitioning to the final movement — and what a transition!

Wednesday morning — the guys from the Jubilee Project visited our school, showed us a few videos, and told us their story. Afterwards during lunch, we got to sit with them in the teachers’ office and talk. From what I remember, these guys gave up medical school, a successful business career, and a job organizing Asian-American outreach under Barack Obama to form a non-profit organization to make charity and inspirational videos full-time. I think the story speaks for itself.

It’s nice to have a reminder not to limit oneself and dwell less on high-school matters. It’s a long story, but Ms. Lin coaxed me into saying something about competitions and their replies were roughly, “Wow, I got, like, a 1 on the AIME.” Who cares about high-school achievements when you have beautiful dreams? But before I get too deep into angsty personal reflections, let’s leave it there…

Continue reading

[IMO 2012 Part 6] Mostly Not About Excursions

Yes. I know it’s been more than a month. Blogging motivation decreases, but the responsibility of that stay tuned doesn’t go away.

It’s okay. It’s all worth it because the stuff in the games room is absolutely ridiculous. Warning: huge post.

[IMO 2012 Problem 4 on a cake.

Our old friend, the monster of a functional equation, in edible form. In the games room. Did I mention abso-zarking-lutely ridiculous?


Continue reading