Sports Day!

EDIT: Shortly after 100 followers, I have now written 100 posts! :D I was hoping for the two achievements to happen at the same time (so my 100th post would have concerned having 100 followers), but I’ll settle for this. :P

Firstly, I have to say that I am disappointed none of you looked up the word ”syzygy”, or at least showed a mild interest. :P From wiktionary:

  1. (astronomy, astrology) A kind of unity, namely an alignment of three celestial bodies (for example, the Sun, Earth, and Moon) such that one body is directly between the other two, such as occurs at an eclipse.

I think the only reason I picked it was that I saw it on dictionary.com as a ‘cool word’ and I’m kind of running out of ideas. ;) If you want, recommend a word! :D This week’s word is tittle.

***

When events come around, they happens in quick fire succession, like bullets from a machine gun. The first three major(ish) occasions of the Summer happened within a week of each other: Sports Day; my first karate competition; and a concert I was playing the piano in. This is the order in which they happened; however, funnily enough, the list also starts with the event I was most worried about and ends with the event I was least worried about.

This post was originally called ‘A Series of Troublesome Events’ and was about all three of these happenings (I’m trying not to use the word ‘event’). Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time, so the karate competition and the piano concert will have to wait.

You may need some background. I’ll basically plagiarise last year’s post on Sports Day and go with a ‘Harry Potter’ theme. So in my school, there are four houses, which will be called (as in last year’s post) Potter, Draco, Harry and Snape. I am in Potter.

However, my experience of Sports Day was very different from last year – as in extremely different. Last year I was in the BBC Junior Reporters’ Club, interviewing athletes after they had finished their events, lazing around, and occasionally cheering on my house.

This year I quit Junior Reporter’s Club. I was also one of the runners in the 1500m.

Yes I know – I have often harped on about how terrible I am at sports and my horrific hand-eye co-ordination. At times, I have prided myself on my unsportiness. I even helped set up FAFA, the Forever Anti-Football Association (or soccer to y’all Americans). If anything, I merely have a slight dislike of sport, but I think I blow it a bit out of proportion. I don’t really know why, but perhaps it’s to have a conversation starter. But I digress.

One of the few exceptions to this is running. I like it, as it requires very little hand-eye (and foot-eye) co-ordination, but only after the actual run has occurred. Whenever I run a fairly long distance, I am uncomfortable throughout, but afterwards I say something crazy like, “That wasn’t so bad.” Such is the madness. D:

My lungs much prefer short distance running to long distance running, but I am comparatively *better* at long distance. That isn’t really saying much. If you could measure running ability on a scale of “You are an Object at Absolute Zero” to “Fast as Light”, I would flounder somewhere between “good” and “good“, if that makes any sense at all. Besides, I would never directly volunteer to compete in Sports Day, being me, but it never works out that way, does it?

The selection process  is very laid back. Basically if you ask to compete and you have a reputation of being fairly good at your chosen sport, you’re in. Occasionally, informal competitions are held to find the best people for the event, but only when there are more applicants for a race than places (normally two places per house).

Here’s how it happened.

I was walking along a corridor with a friend when I walked by the notice board in my school. My head of house and a fellow Potter were standing by it, discussing something. The boy was talking about how there were “hardly any good runners in Potter…”

I may avoid social occasions at all cost, but I can also be very big-headed (+1 for an AMAZING PERSONALITY COMBO) so I muttered under my breath, “I can be a good runner.” or something along those lines.

Silly Joe. Silly silly Joe.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I am unable to speak quietly – I am unable to mutter or whisper without every person in the neighbourhood hearing – never mind every single animal in 64 Zoo Lane.

So when I muttered, my fellow Potter heard me. Next thing you know, I’m suggesting more people, the guy is ecstatic that he’s found some runners and it’s hinted that I will somehow be involved in Sports Day. I’m left with my friend, who is laughing at my predicament.

Sports. I have become implicated with sports. D:

It happened so quickly that at first I thought I was a reserve. Later I found that I had been put down to run for 1500m, and after some checking, I found that to be true.

What? What! WHAT?!

I was so apprehensive that I would come last, or near last. I have a bit of a reputation as the class boffin – not necessarily a bad reputation but a reputation nonetheless – and I didn’t want to reinforce the connotations that come with that. Even still, I didn’t practise that much, although I went out with my dad and sister a few times for a mile run.

There was also a house Sports Day rehearsal a few days before the actual event, but I was only told about it while it was happening, and since I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I decided to skip it since loads of people weren’t going. Obviously there was some mental anguish, but my stomach prevailed.

It turns out that three people (including myself) had applied for two places in the 1500m,  so they staged a mini-competition during the rehearsal which I missed. Since I conveniently didn’t turn up, I was automatically shoehorned into the race with the winner of the competition. If I’m honest, I probably would have lost the mini-competition anyway, so I guess it’s a good thing I decided not to go to the rehearsal.

Anyhow, when it came to the day of the competition, I was freaking out. I’ve never actually competed against anyone before, and didn’t really have any idea how fast I was at running a mile. What if I thought I was fast but really I was a snail? Of course, the opposite was also possible, but I was much more inclined to the first idea. Track events were only in the afternoon, with field events in the morning, so the first half of the day were spent as usual.

Then I got changed at lunch, and walked to the fields after registration, sitting with my fellow Potters in a temporary pen constructed with posts and rope. 1500m was one of the last events, so I sat on the grass for an hour, sipping some water and not paying any attention to the races, while the people beside me listened to music and discussed whether or not Goku was better that Superman. Occasionally I ran to the toilet which was about 100m away and came back exhausted. Needless to say this made me severely doubt my stamina and didn’t do much for my confidence.

You know I said earlier that there was a mini-competition to find who would join me in the 1500m? The loser kept asking me whether I would drop out so he could run instead. Politely, but all the same. Strangely enough, I refused every time. I guess he would have been faster, but in a strange way, I kind of wanted to compete in Sports Day, despite the risk of losing. Meh.

Eventually a voice rang out: “Could all the 1500m competitors see Mr. M at the starting line?” Shaking, I went with some others to the start of the track. I brought my water bottle with me and then left it near the start of the race. There were 8 people competing in each year, but I was running with people in the year below me as well to save time, so there were 16 in total. They positioned us at the start. Some people crouched down but I just stood up, terrified of how badly I could perform. It was 2 and 3/4 laps (or maybe three and 3/4) and it looked like a long distance from where I was. I made a silent prayer.

“And… go!”

I tried to run quickly but also pace myself. The first thing I heard was, “No! Why are you… Nooooo!” and a runner was left behind. Left and right, runners were collapsing into heaps on the ground, leaving carnage in their wake. I didn’t actually see this, but I heard heavy thuds behind me, although those noises may have been feet.

I quickly fell behind three or four people. I was panting heavily, trying to make my strides long and quick, but my lungs weren’t having it. I fluctuated around that position for a while, occasionally seeing someone slide past me. About halfway through the race, I saw a clump of people ahead of me and, lengthening my stride, found the willpower to run in front of them.

“And Joe runs into 3rd place!” the commentator said. I was ecstatic, but my lungs were already near breaking point. I passed the crowds and tried to pick out my name, but it was a maelstrom of meaningless noise. My breaths were heavy and getting longer and slower. As I ran round the curve, people overtook me one by one, most of them in my year but a few younger than me. By the final lap, I was in fifth position in my year, but I was beyond all caring as to positions now – I wasn’t last and I wasn’t second last either, so as long as I kept my place without having an asthma attack, I would be happy.

I heard a battle cry behind me, so I edged up my pace. Sports Day really is the Hunger Games, but you know, toned down for the adolescents. When I saw the finish line, I sprinted. My head of house was cheering me on and the commentator may have encouraged me (he’s one of my friends), but again, I could tell nothing from the crowds. Behind me, another competitor was also sprinting, trying to beat me at the last second, but I managed to outpace him and pipped him to fifth place.

I crumpled onto the grass, breathing heavily. The commentator mentioned something about the 1500m being gruelling. Too right.

Eventually I returned back to the pen (not as bad as it sounds by the way). I was exhausted and wishing for a hero’s welcome or at least a drink of water. But nothing really happened. Happy music was not played while hands did not reach out to pat me on the back and crowds did not part to allow me passage. That’s life I guess.

Of course there was a bit of drama as I realised I had left my water bottle at the start. The inner conflict between not wanting to stand out and wanting to drink some water was strong. I decided to scrounge until I mustered the courage to go and collect it. My life is filled with danger and intrigue.

However Sports Day was kind of boring for me. By the end of the day, the only race I had really been interested in (apart from my own) was the final 4x100m relay, where some of the teachers competed. In case you’re wondering (which I doubt you are), Potter came third, with Harry coming last, Draco coming second and Snape coming first (again). Though we were abysmal at the track events, we managed to scrape third due to a good performance in the field events (unwatched  by an audience). Since last year we came fourth, I think that we’re slowly climbing up the leaderboard. If that’s the case, the next time we’ll win Sports Day is 2016. Brilliant.

Note: Most of the dialogue here was heavily paraphrased or changed because a) I can’t remember what was actually said and b) I didn’t want to name people. Just saying. :3

Joe

P.S. My next post will be about my birthday. :3 I may not post on the day (I will be at the house of some extended family members), but I’ll try as soon as I can. :P

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A quick update!

The last you heard of me, I left a cryptic post that said ‘something is happening’. This doesn’t really mean much. For all you knew, I was posting from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after being kidnapped by teddy bear pirates wearing eye patches. Alas, this was not the case. I also left you with the word ‘abyssopelagic’, but this has nothing to do with anything – I just thought it was a cool word and wanted to share it. :P Incidentally, according to Wiktionary it means:

  1. Of or pertaining to the depths of the ocean; of the open waters of the abyssal zone.

You may have noticed it’s the summer. Or the winter if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Or maybe you don’t have four seasons where you live. Maybe you don’t have any seasons…

Ok, so it’s the summer in the UK. As usual, we complain how hot it is constantly and wish it could be Winter. When we actually do have Winter, we wish for Summer. We may not be the only country to complain about the weather, but it comes up an awful lot in conversation. Weather and tea are the things that binds all British people together in a mess of pessimism and patriotism.

For some reason, summer is the national season of getting stuff done that could have been spread across the year. People always leave the big events for summer and it causes a lot of stress. You go through the whole year and nothing happens and suddenly Wimbledon, the Commonwealth Games, the World Cup, your piano concert, my sister’s birthday, a trip to the Proms, Sports Day (I was actually in it this time!), a karate competition, Open Evening, a trip to France and the start of the Summer holidays are all within a season. I should probably make some sort of reference to buses here, but I shall decline.

I’m sure half of these things did not have to happen in Summer. In fact, the only thing that really needed to happen in Summer was the start of the Summer holidays. (The World Cup could have gone on perfectly well in Spring).

I wanted to write about these events, but there wasn’t enough time. The events piled up and I felt I couldn’t write about the new events without writing about the old events first, so the potential essay post got bigger and bigger in my mind. Eventually I realised it would swamp me so I’ve shelved it for now.

I hope I can write about these events in the future (probably in chunks), but if I do, they will likely be out of order and make zero sense. But hey, the important thing is to start writing again. :)

These events are actually pretty momentous though in terms of my bucket list. Now I have gone to an official karate competition and gone abroad for more two days without my family, two items on the list. As I said, I won’t write about these things yet, but I hope to soon. However I’m thinking of changing the list slightly. So far, it’s more geared to doing stuff than achieving stuff. For instance, going to an official karate competition didn’t feel that inspiring in itself – it was mainly a lot of waiting around, and very little karate. What the achievement should have been was ‘win a match at a karate competition’, or even more challenging, ‘win a medal at a karate competition’. Hence why the list no longer includes ‘join a social network’. I think I am at risk of putting reputation above actual achievement, which I can be very guilty of as I am a massive praise hog. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a lot more meaningful to cross off one difficult item on my bucket list than five easy ones.

That being said, I have also completed a third item on my bucket list: gain 100 followers. :D

Now this is all kinds of awesome. Compared to other blogs around my *age* I have quite a pitiful amount of followers, but I guess I’m kind of to blame for that. Still, 100 is a lot! I mean, considering I’m almost as unsociable on the net as I am off it, I think it’s kind of weird I even have 100 followers.** :P!

Thank you. Thank you so much for putting up with my harebrained schemes and my tediousness and my erratic posts and my ramblings etc. Thanks for making the time to read (or not as the case may be, but to all the spammers and non-active followers, I like you nevertheless :P). Thanks for making the time to be sociable so I don’t have to. Just… thanks.

Talking of harebrained schemes, remember that plan I thought up to celebrate my blogversary? It detailed me changing one thing in my life every week so that I would be a new person in a year and it was kind of ambitious. It’s kind of worked, but kind of not – mainly because I am unwilling to give myself punishments and am finding it difficult to think of things to change. :P Again, another thing for another post, sorry about that.

I am now slightly under a week into the summer holidays. It’s flying by far too quickly and soon I’ll be back to my daily dreariness. My birthday will be very soon (yippee!) so prepare your presents.

Excitingly, I have also started editing my novel again after a year where I didn’t do much creative writing. Of course, I did stuff relating to writing in that break, like reading about writing and making some character biographies, but no actual editing of my first draft (which was by the way very very rambly). I was hoping to get it done by the Summer holidays, but I’m not sure this will be the case anymore. Even still, it’s brilliant I’ve started again, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some momentum running. :)

I’m not entirely sure how to end this, but I like the idea of ‘here’s a cool word’ becoming a feature. So:

*NB: these things did not happen in the order listed.

**To elaborate on this, I’ve kind of settled with my own small group of bloggin’ friends (most of whom have blogs a year or less old), and I’m always reluctant to make new ones. My blogging schedule has also been kind of erratic, which can’t have helped my rise to fame.

P.S. My room is also a mess. So much of a mess that I feel it would be irresponsible not to tell you. Basically lots of paper accumulated, was released in an attempt to organise it, and ended up just being left around. Maybe I’ll clean it up. Maybe. :P

P.P.S. My end of year exam results came back and it all turned out well. :3

What’s in a name?

LOTS OF THINGS.

You might not think I come into trouble with a name like Joseph. In fact, as an Indian, people only get surprised because they expect me to have a more complicated name. Once I was in quiz match, and the quizmaster asked for my name. When I told him, he looked a little bemused, and then told everyone a funny story about how some other kid a while back had replied, “Call me Abs.”

Most of my moans come from whether or not to use Joe or Joseph. It’s not really a matter of which I prefer – I don’t even realise the difference when people talk to me and I only realised my sisters called me Joe after a decade or so. :P It’s more the first impression it gives.

Each name has its setbacks and advantages. Joe is more casual, easier to pronounce and less conspicuous, but I’ve always thought Joseph sounds classier. Besides, Joe (believe it or not) is more confusing to spell. In Yr 1, I made the mistake of asking my teacher to call me Joe. Every single time she was marking my work, it was written Jo, a girl’s name. This annoyed me greatly and I tried not to make the same mistake again.

In Yr 3, there was already someone called Joseph – so rather than mess about with initials, I was called Joseph and he was called Joe. I preferred it at the time, but in hindsight “Joe” got the better deal.

Then it came to secondary school. I thought I could reinvent myself, so I became Joe. I think it’s worked pretty well, but now after I’ve gotten to know everyone it doesn’t really make much difference. Joe, Joseph… it’s all the same to me really.

My main annoyance is when people don’t use Joe or Joseph but something entirely novel that I have not authorised. This one time I was at karate and a girl kept calling me Josh and then everyone starting calling me Josh. Luckily I protested and people have started calling me Joe or Joseph again.

I have had various other nicknames, but these have never been as wide spread. In school one of my friends used to call me Ioseph and Jsph (these are actually some real nicknames). Another calls me average Joe (or when I do something good, above-average Joe). Once a teacher (yes the same one from Year 1) called me ‘the baby of the class’ due to my summer holiday birthday.

On the internet I haven’t had many names, but I suppose technophile9 and techno-Joe count.

However most of my nicknames come from my family. Jojo, Mojo Jojo, Bro, Mini-Boy-[sister’s name] and Josephine are all the handiwork of my sisters. My parents used to call me a monkey, but not as much nowadays.

However most of these are ‘extinct’ nicknames, save Joe, technophile9 and more recently bro. I guess I’ve never been much of a nickname person.

What about you? Do you like nicknames? Undoubtedly I have missed some, but I think I’ve listed most of them.

Joe.

Note: Joseph means ‘God will increase’, which I like. :)

Important… things.

 

A week and a half ago, it was  Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is basically the 40 days in the lead up to Easter, where you’re meant to be generous, pray, and fast. Most people (try) to give up at least one thing to fulfil the fasting obligation. Easter, but it seems sort of lazy to me, like being a vegetarian, but only on weekdays. Even still, I suppose 40 days without chocolate would drive someone insane. ;)

I don’t really have anything I can give up, due to my raft of allergies, and even if I wanted to, my mum would expressly forbid me from becoming a vegetarian (you’re a growing boy!) so my sisters have set me the challenge of ‘bulking up’. -_- In previous years I gave up sweets (which I never eat anyway) and gaming (which I never do), so it’s better than nothing. We’ll see how it goes. If anyone is actually giving something up, feel free to discuss below!

There was also World Book Day! I assume this is celebrated internationally for obvious reasons, so hopefully I won’t need to explain.

Wait… turns out we celebrate it at a different date to everyone else. XD Us British are funny like that aren’t we? I was going to say something like, ‘what did you dress up as?’, but I guess that’s useless if you don’t live in the UK. Unfortunately our school doesn’t celebrate World Book Day, but I have fond memories of dressing up in primary school. In memory, I went as Harry Potter, Tintin and Half-Moon. One of them proba0zbly twice.

Ukraine has also been… happening. But you’ve probably heard enough of that. If I’m honest, I haven’t really been following it. My friend helpfully explained, but I’m still unsure on some points, so I don’t want to mess things up. :P

WWIII press here to start

From CGP Grey’s video, ‘How Many Countries Are There?’

It was also Pi Day yesterday – at least, it was for some people. Most people were meh about it, but as one of those weird people who likes maths, I think it’s a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, here it was 14/3, rather than 3/14, so I didn’t get to celebrate, but there’s always next year. :)

Most of these things are pretty normal. They happen every year, and will continue to happen every year – although hopefully not the Ukraine conflict. I hope that doesn’t become an annual thing.

But probably one of the most interesting things for me, because it happened to me, was that I graded in karate to brown belt with one white stripe. *victory dance*

 

I am now two belts from black belt. As in, the belt after the next belt is black. I therefore predict that I will be a black belt by at most 2016. This might sound pessimistic, but some people in my group have been on the belt before black for more than 2 years. Although they’re not really meant to be – it’s analogous to those 40-year olds who are living with their parents – hence the at most.

The grading was scarier than usual as this time we had two examiners. Once seemed to be superior to the other, as he took the class. The sidekick sensei (for want of a better phrase) was in my opinion scarier. At first glance, he looked like a bit of a lumberjack – the grey beard, almost bald head… until you realised he had a braided ponytail the thickness of a string! Somewhere between the hair strands in Avatar and the hair-styles in Prince of Egypt.

Most of the grading we were mucking around. We spent two hours in the changing rooms waiting for the first few belts to be graded. Though it sounds pretty boring, it was nice to get to know people better. I mean, once you’re trapped in a small enclosed space with people you haven’t really talked to before, you kind of have to be social. ;) When I actually got to it, I was terrified, even though I’ve been through it before. They only put you through if they no you’re good enough – so our club has never seen anyone fail a non-black grading. I know that should be reassuring, but you don’t want to be the one who changes that statistic. Obviously I passed, so it all ended out fine.

Umm… yeah. Sorry I haven’t been posting as much. I just haven’t had the time. :/ I had another post in the wings, but I accidentally deleted a lot, so I’ve had to start again from the middle. If I can, I’ll get it out on Sunday, but this may not be possible.

Joe. :)

OT: Karate

I started karate around four years ago. The annoying thing about karate is you can never boast. Not because it’s against the Big Book of Karate Rules (Section 24: Paragraph 3: Line 2 – The black belt shall pretend he is a white belt). It’s just that whenever I talk to someone who also does karate, they all happen to be child prodigies who were black belts at the age of nine. D:

I was recently talking to a guy who had also done karate, and feeling quite smug about the fact that I had been doing karate for four years. I mean, four years is quite a sizable portion of time, right? Then he casually mentioned he’d started doing karate at the age of four. It was certainly an arrow to the knee, or rather, a punch to the face.

I am now a brown belt, which is three belts below a black belt. Of course this will be different for different variations of karate (and from what I’ve heard, there are many, many different variations). I haven’t actually been to any competitions, and it’s on my bucket list to go to one, as well as to become a black belt.

One of the main reasons I do go to karate is because it is pretty much my only form of exercise.  I am, as I have stressed often above, very un-sporty, so going to karate twice a week keeps me… relatively fit. Ish. :P It’s also quite fun, although to a certain extent, I can’t say I look forward to it. Because… sport.

Karate has three parts – sparring, or kumite; basic techniques, or kihon; and katas. Kumite sounds like the part of karate where fists go flying, but it’s actually really controlled, and you only get to actually *fight* someone in the very high grades.

Kihon is quite boring, as you just show you can perform basic moves.

Therefore, the most interesting part of karate is probably the katas. Katas are like fights with one person, so they don’t really appear to make much sense and look more like dances than anything else, but when you see what applications they’re used for, they actually make sense. One of the interesting things about karate is that the katas seem to become less and less useful the higher you go up. This probably isn’t the case, as like I said, they all look weird until you see the application… but it sure seems like it.

Probably one of the weirdest katas is ‘Chintei’.

Chintei is the one you perform to make people laugh. It seems like quite a sensible kata until… you notice the bunny ears and those three hops at the end, which some people theorise is frolicking over the blood of your enemies. o_O It certainly makes you view it in a slightly different light.

Coming up: Book Reviews: Part 2

Have any of you guys tried a martial art? Or even sport in general?

Joe.

Operation Toothpaste II: Hobbies!

So I haven’t posted for a week. For that I am sorry. This was due to both my laziness and my busy… schedule. I’m not joking. July weeks are nightmares for my mum, who has to organize all the events that happen right next to each other. I may post about this tomorrow. ;) But I did have plenty of opportunities, perhaps especially for Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (77 years! I really should have posted, now I feel guilty).

So for this week I would like to have one more, dare I say it, foundation level of Toothpaste, before we get into the nitty gritty, the entertaining details. Though to be fair, a layer of toothpaste on which to build a house is pretty unstable… For those of you who don’t know what Toothpaste is, click here.

I digress. It’s time for…

Operation Toothpaste Edition II: Hobbies!

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