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Homework, Homework, Homework

"But it's too much homework and it's driving me insane."

These are some of the lyrics of one of the greatest songs ever, "Homework! Homework! Homework!" by Tim Griffin. Let's see if we can get to just 10 likes. 

As this is the last week of my school year, I thought I'd take this time to present the interesting among the projects I did. I already showed you all my Upstanders project, but I thought I'd show more. I'm going to go project by project and link or copy-paste:

Social Studies: Desert Vehicle

This was during our unit on Islam. For this project, we created a vehicle that could travel through the desert on the hajj. This is located at

Social Studies: Children's Book

During the Japan unit, we created a children's book to illustrate what we learned about knights, samurai, and other aspects of Chinese culture. I tried my best on the art, but it's not great. My book is called The Forced Choice. Mine is over at (Note: for this and other book links, you may need to download it if on computer. It may not be available if you are on mobile.)

Science: Building California

For this project, we created yet another children's book to explain the creation of California from a plate tectonics perspective. Here it is, linked at


I made a medley of different projects for my third-trimester art elective. Here are the ones I'm not ashamed of:

From the top:

- Self-portrait

- Circular canvas painting in a purple fade style

- Silk painting, containing a range of different designs on the flower's thirteen spokes

- A "movie poster" about my life; it says conflux across the middle, which is hard to find if you aren't looking for it

- Gouache painting of a snake

- Abstract canvas painting

- Perspective drawing of a chessboard

- Eye drawing


English Language Arts: Poetry Book

In ELA the pattern of each core class creating a book continued. This one features poetry. My favorite is "Dear Aubrey," but the consensus among my family is that "Ode to the One Good Power Cord" is superior. Check it out at

English Language Arts: Narrative

We had to write a realistic short story for ELA this trimester. Not all parts are filled in in this story, as per the assignment instructions, but I present it here:

“My older sister once got a detention from Mrs. Madisen, our new language-arts teacher, for forgetting a pencil,” Lillian remembered her friend Isabelle saying. Lillian didn’t want to make that mistake. She also wished that Isabelle had sixth-period language arts too. It would have made her feel happier as she walked into language arts for the last class of the first day. So far, all had gone smoothly.

Lillian never knew exactly what to expect on the first day of school, but she felt prepared anyway. She had her backpack, her lunchbox, her water bottle, her binder, and her pencil case, which contained exactly one mechanical pencil, exactly one eraser, and exactly one highlighter, as per the school’s very specific rules. Lillian wondered why she couldn’t have backups. It seemed like one of those rules without an apparent purpose.

About five minutes before the day’s sixth bell, Lillian got out her pencil case. She looked through it. She saw her highlighter, her eraser, and her sharpener: however, the pencil itself was missing. She had sworn she had it earlier! She was going to get a detention on her first day of school. And she wasn’t even a bad kid! She had never gotten a detention before. 

Lillian had never been one to panic, though. She quickly and covertly reached into the pencil case of the boy to her left, removed the pencil, and inserted it into her own pencil case. She felt bad for the boy, sure, but she was more important than he was. She didn’t think this in a selfish way, she just figured that she knew and trusted herself, and didn’t even know his name.

The boy looked back at his pencil case a minute later. The pencil was gone! He started panicking. Lillian was starting to feel a bit bad for mystery boy after all. Class was starting in only two minutes, and he was going to get a detention on the first day of school. 

No one talked.

Eventually, the boy covered for himself first. He made the same move as Lillian, stealing a pencil from the next person’s desk. He felt safe, as did Lillian: they each had a pencil, for the moment.

Lillian had a watch that kept the time to the second, and she was checking it repeatedly now. She hated that moment of anticipation, when the thing you’re dreading hasn’t happened yet, but it’s about to. 

At thirty seconds before the bell, Lillian looked down. Her pencil was there. Good.

Fifteen seconds. Pencil there.

Ten seconds. Pencil there.

Five seconds. Pencil not there. Wait, what? thought Lillian. Someone must have stole it. Karma, she figured.

Lillian grimaced. She looked to her left, at the boy from earlier. He was looking directly at his pencil. That wouldn’t do, unless she wanted to incur his wrath for all of the school year. 

Lillian looked right. All she saw was the door, since no one sat to her right:

That was when a tall woman in her sixties wearing a navy blue blouse and a matching maxi skirt walked into the room.

Mrs. Madisen. 

Lillian couldn’t steal a pencil now, and, resigned to her fate, she prepared mentally for the class–and detention–to come. 

The bell rung.

“Hi, I’m Mrs. Madisen. Welcome to my language arts class, students,” said Mrs. Madisen. 

“In this class, you will learn language arts, if you haven’t figured that out yet.” When Mrs. Madisen had started teaching twenty years ago, it was a laugh line, but now it was just a line. The boy next to Lillian squirmed in his seat.

“This class will be very structured. The structure will be the same every class period, so you will all know what to expect. The first ten minutes of the class will be silent reading. Each of you is required to bring a book to class each and every day.” The boy next to Lillian yawned as the teacher droned on and on. 

“The final ten minutes of the class you will be writing in your composition books,” said Mrs. Madisen. “What you write will change from day to day. Generally, students’ stories are a waste of my precious, precious time, so try not to do that,” she said in a monotone, another piece of comedy turned hurtful. Lillian got the sense that Mrs. Madisen was once a good teacher, but not anymore.

Lillian wondered when she going to need her pencil. She wished it would just happen already so she could get her detention. And as Mrs. Madisen kept talking, Lillian had zoned out, trying to distract herself from what would happen. So this was going to be one of those classes, she thought.

Mrs. Madisen talked and talked. Will I even need to use my pencil? thought Lillian. 

Interlude: Rising Action bullet points (rising action has been started above)

Event 1. They do not use their pencil that day. 

Event 2. Lillian chats with Isabelle about what happened. 

Event 3. In fifth period social studies the next day, Lillian drops her pencil, and the boy next to Lillian picks it up. 

Event 4. She asks for the pencil. He refuses to give it, saying that he also forgot his pencil. 

Event 5. Lillian gets annoyed as she walks into sixth period language arts.

Lillian could not believe what the boy next to her had done. He just stole her pencil out of nowhere and refused to give it back to her, even after she had asked politely, and also not so politely! She didn’t understand how anyone could be like that, losing sight of the fact that she had been just the previous day.

As Lillian walked into sixth period, she made a grab for the pencil of the boy next to her. However, the boy was on to her, and was extremely vigilant as far as the pencil was concerned. She needed to be stealthier, but class was on the verge of starting.

Mrs. Madisen had a certain aura such that whenever she walked into a classroom, everyone was extra careful not to incur her wrath. For example, as she walked in, at least three conversations stopped, including the one between Lillian and the boy next to her. 

As class began, Lillian took out her book. She was reading Anthem, by Ayn Rand, and she was enjoying it. It was slow work, though, and she was having a difficult time focusing on it. 

Mrs. Madisen gave a presentation on subordinating conjunctions, but Lillian couldn’t have told you what the presentation was about afterward. 

Next, the class watched a video. Then Mrs. Madisen introduced a book the class would read. Lillian could only think of one thing, however. The last part of the day: the composition assignment. She would need a pencil.

She didn’t have a pencil.

And after what felt like a lifetime, Mrs. Madisen walked in front of the class and told them to pull out their composition books.

Lillian’s heart raced. What would she do! She was going to get a detention unless she thought fast. So as the boy next to her took his composition book out of his desk, she stole his pencil. The boy realized what was happening, and grabbed hold of the pencil. 

Mrs. Madisen turned towards the tug-of-war. “What’s going on?” 

Lillian and the boy next to her answered at the same time, each accusing the other.

Mrs. Madisen gave a stern look at both students. “Swear on your life to never do this again.” Her eyebrows narrowed. “You are disrupting the learning environment.”

Lillian’s heart was sinking like the Titanic, and she feared that, like it, she wouldn’t come back up…

when Mrs. Madisen told them, “This is your last warning. Here is an additional pencil.” She smiled. “Problem solved.”

“But, my detention.”

All Mrs. Madisen did was smile.

“Isabelle! You have to hear this,” said Lillian on her way out of school. 

“Sure, what?” responded Isabelle.

“Mrs. Madisen didn’t give me a detention after all! Maybe I was too worried about nothing.”

Lillian and Isabelle headed homeward. They lived in the same neighborhood, so they had walked home together since they were young. It was their opportunity to debrief for the day, so it was a time of relaxation for both of them.

“Back up. What detention? Start from the beginning, Lillian.”

“Well,” said Lillian, and she relaxed. “Yesterday, I was coming into sixth period, and I needed a pencil.”

“You were worried about getting a detention just because of a pencil?” asked Isabelle. “That’s like the textbook definition of making a mountain out of a molehill. Just chill out.”

“You say that,” said Lillian, “but that sounds like the exact thing that you would get worried about.”

“That’s not true,” said Isabelle, but they both knew it was.

“You also literally told me that your sister got a detention from Mrs. Madisen for forgetting a pencil.”

“Oh yeah. I had forgotten about that.”

Lillian continued with her story. “Anyway, I reached over to the desk of the boy next to me, and I stole his pencil…”

Isabelle smiled as she entered the crosswalk. This was certainly a story worth savoring.

And scene.

Bonus: Legacy

Approximately one year ago today, I was leaving Helios, and I wrote a poem to express my feelings about it. This is something I do a lot, and I don't generally share them. But I felt I needed to get this one out. It's part love letter, part meme compilation, and part philosophical gibberish. I'm proud of it, but I'm also hesitant to get feedback on it, as its point is to get my feelings out, not to communicate them. So here it is, unchanged from last year.

legacy :

of Poetry and Wild Desire:

of Climbing Rungs,

of Climbing higher.

Through my lungs,

I try to talk

About my life here,

On that — long — walk

Despite the knife: fear

Of oblivion, something

much Bigger.

—& why wasn’t there nothing?—

But with rigor,

This was created, a haven:

I first came here at four.

Grew up, became a Raven; 

Finally I am a Condor:

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Learning Chinese, the High Seas,

The Quaker Center, Mars’ Renter.

Sarah Baker, the Changemakers,

Adam Beshears, Shakespeare.

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Puppy Kitty, the Campus is Pretty,

Perfect World, Humor Hurled.

Backjacks, Storm Drain Facts,

Qi Gong’s Light, Noteflight.

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Magic the Gathering, Things Are Mattering,

Trump Wins, Puberty Ed Begins.

Making Waves, Memes Invade,

Fun with Fracking, Hail Attacking.

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Hashwhites, the Powwow Lights,

Diving Deeper, the Song Believer.

Improvisation, Immigration,

Yosemite, McLeodean Remedies.

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Helping at Math Circle, That’s A Squircle,

Manzanar, Wind Blows Hard;

xkcd. Can’t You See:

I Have Made So Many Memories:

— Helios: thank you so much — 

Maybe I will never achieve

The highest rung.

But I must believe,

In my song. Unsung:



Thanks for reading what I wrote. I hope this wasn't a waste of your life.


Originally aired June 12, 2019


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