Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Certamen Semi Finals

"Qui Iupiter et Pluto frater est? Responde Englice." announced the judge. The question was, "Who was Jupiter and Pluto's brother? Respond in English." Two teams out of three took a go. One had "No answer", one said Ceres. I realized my chance and buzzed in. I answered, "Poseidon". "Incorrect!" said the judge, "The question wanted the Roman form not the Greek." My heart sank and I silently raged at myself for not saying Neptune!

On April 4, my team and I represented our middle school and went to Irvine, California for the Certamen State Convention semi-finals. Certamen is Latin for quiz bowl. It is a competition where there are 2-4 teams, and a question is asked. Each team can buzz in with a buzzer once per question. The questions are all about Greek and Latin history, mythology, grammar, Latin usage, and derivatives. There are two types of questions; Toss-Up and a Bonus. Toss-Up questions are worth ten points each, and Bonus questions are worth five points each. If you answer a Toss-Up question correctly, then you are rewarded with two bonus questions.

 Split-second thinking is a key element to be an amazing Certamen player. Certamen is as challenging as Jeopardy, but it is more nerve racking and involves more thinking in my opinion. Sometimes you know the right answer, but you start to doubt yourself. One third of the time, you think you know the answer before the question ends, but you don't want to buzz in first because you might get it wrong, but you also want to buzz in first because it might be right. Another one third of the time, the question is finished being read and you think you know the answer but don't want to buzz because if you get it wrong, your team can't help you and they won't have another chance to buzz for that question. The last one third of the time, you know the answer, buzz and get it right.  When you buzz in and answer correctly, it feels like you get back into the station on a roller coaster after an intense ride.

My team and I were losing in the first third of the game. The score was twenty-five to thirty-five to fifty. By the end of the second round, we were in second place. The score was forty-five to sixty to sixty-five. The rounds were getting more difficult. At first, it wasn't scary, and everyone was calm and ready to go. As the game progressed, every time I heard the buzz sound, my heart would leap to my throat; I wouldn't know if it was my team that buzzed in or someone else. Finally, it was the last question. The score was forty-five to ninety to ninety. As the judge said the question, I pressed the buzzer, but I was too late. The other team with ninety points buzzed in a millisecond before me. This was the question that decided who advanced to the finals. I chanted in my head. "Please get it wrong! Please get it wrong!" My chanting failed. I cried, "NOOOOOO!!!!!" Our team was devastated. However, It was a good game, and everyone enjoyed it. . This year was our school's first time doing Certamen, and we got fourth place in the entire state. I am sure we can get into the finals next year.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cold War II (Part 2)

"Admiral! We have lost all communications with our Alfa 332 submarine!"

"Comrade, there is no need to fret, I am sure it will come back online." The Admiral spoke in a calm voice, but inside he feared the Alfa 332 submarine was destroyed. He looked to the side. A radar was beeping, searching the ocean for the Alfa 332 submarine. There was no sign. A Russian ensign rushed to the Admiral. "Comrade Admiral Volikov, the Alfa 332 submarine has sent it's last message!"

"How?" Asked the Admiral.

"Emergency messaging. It reads: Alfa 332 down, please take note of."

"Oh no!" Admiral Volikov cried, "Engage Phase 1!" The orders traveled through the microphone, out the transmitter, into submarine receivers, and out of the speakers.

Captain Eshman, Captain Yablonev, and Captain Andreyushkin heard this. Phase 1 was the first stage of the most destructive plan ever created.


Captain Eshman had a strange gait, because he was missing the bottom half of his leg. He hobbled over to the door of the eerie engine room and a young man handed him a greenish yellow haz-mat suit. The more he looked at it, the more it looked like an evil pyrotechnic. He pulled it on and zippered it up. He cleared his visor and took a deep breath to let the air flow through. He stepped into the engine room. Three engineers scurried past him, trying to cool down the reactor. The reactor was a nuclear and dark matter engine, one of the most advanced engines, second the the Electron model's light reactor. The engineers' haz-mat suits were covered in burns, but none of the engineers seemed harmed. Captain Eshman said, "What are you up to comrades?" 

In unison, they replied, "The reactor is over heating. We are letting some sea water cool it. Do not worry, this is a normal procedure."

Captain Eshman retorted, "Oh! Please tell me the way to the extractor." One of the engineers broke off from his fellow engineers. He said, "Follow me!" He walked into a clearing with nothing but a panel with buttons. This was to activate the extractor. The extractor would remove either nuclear fluid or dark matter fluids from the engine. Eshman walked over and hit the dark matter button. Then, he typed in the password, and the ship gave a whir. The extractor pump was working at its max, pumping all the dark matter into the extractor containers.

When the extractor was finished, Eshman walked over to the containers and typed in a password and a series of numbers. The dark matter liquid was compressing; the compressed dark matter flowed through tubes into empty warheads. 

Phase 1 was complete.

Eshman reported to the Admiral. The Admiral cried "Engage Phase 2 and automatically move to Phase 3, the final phase!" Eshman beamed the dark matter warheads to Captain Yablonev.


Captain Yablonev received the warheads instantly. He pumped fuel into missiles and placed the warheads on them and beamed them to Captain Andreyushkin. Captain Andreyushkin was ruthless. He loaded every missile into a launching compartment. In total there were twenty missile. The missiles already had a programmed target. The targets were tactical positions in the United States of America. Captain Yablonev walked to the comm system and told Admiral Volikov, "Ready when you are comrade Admiral!"

Admiral Volikov ordered, "Launch!"