Summer Science Program has been excellent so far, and these are a few of my thoughts on it. Enjoy!

Originally posted on SSPblog 2014 - Westmont, CA:

Written by Chunyang Ding

Good writer must know their audience, so let’s try something here. This message has been very personalized from your child directly to you, moms and dads.



(That last line was in jest. Sorta. )

In all seriousness…

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Simulating Legs and Other Government Activities

After Government/History students are done regurgitating definitions and writing their page-a-minute analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most would be exhausted and ready to nap for the next week (or month) (or year). But not so at our school!

Legislature Simulator (or LegSim, which gives birth to a huge range of leg puns btw) is a website that allows every student to create their own legislation, which is followed up in class by floor debates, committee reports, and full house votes. It is a hustling and bustling activity, something that House of Cards fans might see as a chance to do some #PlayingPolitics, while the ideologues will push for broad and sweeping reform. Personally, I love it for the ability to express my opinions and see what I know about the government.

During our floor debates, one of the most brought up points was that the legislation we were debating over was not precise enough, or did not account for this section of the tax code, or marginalized these constituents in California’s 21st district. There was a lot of nit picking, primarily because we had learned that that was how real congressional legislation gets passed as well. Through the experience, I sorta got a sense for why our legislature has so much difficulty getting reform passed. If a group of 150 students, living in one of the most liberal areas of the country with similar ideologies and backgrounds, could not agree on a basic bill for teacher reform, how on Earth is Congress getting anything done at all?

Overall, it was a fascinating and eye opening experience for me. It was a great educational experience and I just really enjoyed all of it. Unfortunately, it seems like the bills that I wrote for it would die with the end of school, so why not make it eternal on here?

Net Neutrality Act v.3 RISE Act v.2

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Dr. Quizbowl, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Trivia

I’m sitting in a Boeing 747 on the flight back from Washington DC to Seattle, Washington. For the past two days, I have participated in arguably the nerdiest convention possible for a high school student. Rather than spending this Memorial Day weekend enjoying the sun and freedom from standardized testing, I’ve chosen to spend it with 96 other brilliant teams from across the United States, buzzing and shouting and answering questions about the most obscure trivia possible.

The NSC, or the National Scholastic Championships, is a prestigious tournament held by PACE to allow for quiz bowling to become more popular throughout the US, to prepare high school students for collegiate quiz bowl (roughly 39582027% more difficult than our current level), and to support the love for learning throughout the US. Of course, the clear implicit goal for everyone is to simply win. For many students, their lives revolve around the gathering of knowledge and information, so a test to see how much information one can retain can be very extremely exciting. Teamwork and the spirit of competition is exemplified at this competition, as regular winners compete with newer members, and new people are exposed to this exciting world.

A quick rundown of Quiz Bowl for those unfamiliar: Two teams of 4 people compete to buzz in and answer questions correctly. It is a very simple concept, although the full rules are over 26 pages long! This is because concepts such as the correct pronunciation and identification of answers, the idea of what “bonuses” are, who can answer when, what “power” buzzes mean, and other obscure bylaws can completely change the way that the game is played. During Tossup questions, the teams of 4 people are treated as individuals, each given their own lockout buzzer to answer the question. The first person to buzz in is given a 5 second window to answer, but if s/he is incorrect, their entire team is prevented from answering. S/he is not allowed to consult with teammates during the tossups, but if the question is answered correctly, their entire team is given 3 consecutive Bonus questions, each worth the same value as a Tossup. Because the team is allowed to converse and discuss during Bonus questions, these questions tend to be more obscure and more difficult than regular tossups, and the hallmark of a strong team is the ability to get as many points as possible during these questions. A very important part of Quiz Bowl is that the questions are of the “pyramidal” variety, where the first sentence of each paragraph-long question will be the most difficult, while the last sentence will contain more general knowledge that everyone is expected to know. Therefore, the more in-depth one understands about a subject, the more likely that one could buzz in before the opponent and score points. Depending on the specific tournament, additional rules can be implemented: *Power can be called if a player buzzes before a certain point in the question, and will be rewarded additional points, Negative points can be called if a player buzzes in before the question is completed and the player answers incorrectly, and bounce-backs may be implemented to allow the opposing team to have a 2 second window to answer bonus questions only if the initial team failed to answer correctly.

Although it may seem confusing at first, the players who appear at the national tournament are old pros, trained through hundreds of hours at their local high schools and at closer local tournaments. The community that surrounds Quiz Bowl is very encouraging and hospitable towards new players, as the stated purpose is to foster the love of information for everyone.

Of course, it doesn’t always seem like that.

When first entering the competition hall, one might feel this vibe of tension that runs throughout the tournament. Just to have the opportunity to be at the National Tournament was hard fought and only earned after constant training; everyone is anxious to prove that their own knowledge, and that their own high school, is the best in the country. This competition keeps events entertaining but also stressful, as a single bad buzz can be the difference between advancing to the top brackets and being stuck in the middle. New players can be overwhelmed with all of the statistics published, and sitting at a table for 8 hours a day straining to listen to questions and associate words with knowledge is extremely tiring. In addition, adrenaline tends to course through you when you buzz and strain your brain to provide an accurate answer, a buzz that is at first exhilarating but can soon become exhausting after constant “buzzes”.

For me, the scariest parts of the tournament are the criticisms – received both from within the team as well as from for oneself. If you recall, the “lockout” rule, where the entire team is unable to answer after a single person buzzes, can cause tensions within the team if someone gets knowledge incorrect. By being rash or foolish, an individual could potentially handicap the entire team, and, if other teammates actually knew the answer, be admonished for depriving teammates of their opportunities. However, this fear of being incorrect is counterbalanced by the fear of the other team outbuzzing oneself! The pyramidal setup means that the longer that a player takes to answer, the more likely the opposing team catches a clue and buzzes in as well. That feeling, when one knows the correct answer but got beaten to the buzzer, is perhaps the single-most horrible feeling ever. Just by mere fractions of seconds, the opposing team is given the chance to get 40 more points, just because you weren’t confident enough!

So far, this post reads more like an encyclopedia than my words. I’ve probably used the words “players” “oneself” “s/he” and “you” in more incorrect grammatical contexts than the number of tossups I’ve missed (ouch). So let’s look at where I came from, shall we?

Washington State, as well as most of the West Coast, has predominantly been a region dominated by the Knowledge Bowl Competition, a competing group with the Quiz Bowl Competition. Besides an entirely different buzzing, scoring, question, and answering procedure, these competitions only occur twice: Once at the local level and once at the state level. Throughout the past decade, Interlake High School has emerged as a leader in knowledge bowl throughout Washington. I’ve been involved with this at our school since my freshmen year, and has since been on the 2013 State Qualifying Team, as well as being the captain for the 2014 team that took 4th Place at state. Fourth place! We proved that in the entire state of Washington, we came in 4th for knowledge that we know! If you don’t grasp how exciting that is for a kid who loves learning, then you certainly don’t know me well enough.

When Winston first proposed for us to learn more about Quiz Bowl at the University of Washington, I suppose I was apprehensive but excited. Would this be another opportunity for fun, competitive studying and a chance to show our skills to the world? Although the questions were more difficult, I knew that our team was up for the challenge. We participated in the Washington State Quiz Bowl Championship at the UW, and took 1st place.

Excited and charged up by these early successes, we decided to register for the National event. In doing so, we were committing our time and money to Washington DC and everything that PACE was. For me, it was a big challenge to persuade my parents to assist with the airline fees and sponsor me, so I wanted to prove that we were worth it. As a team, we worked on memorizing trivia and competing against each other when we had a chance; a arduous task as we were studying for our looong streak of AP/IB tests at the same time. But this was exciting! It was fun! It was the best of times.

Around this same time, I found out that my old school, Farragut High School in Farragut, Tennessee, was becoming prominent in National Quiz Bowl tournaments. It was through my good friend Kai that I gained motivation and resources to study for this prestigious event. Then, one fateful night, I organized an impromptu competition between Kai and my entire current team on, a wonderfully designed website that simulates real competition.

We were crushed.

I don’t have a screenshot of the actual competition, but it resulted in a huge 2700 point loss, in the neighborhood of 3000 points for Kai alone and around 300 for our four members combined.

It brought the grim reality of Quiz Bowl to us, as we realized how much willpower, determination, and studying influenced results. It wasn’t enough to just be knowledgeable in school. There were amazing teams at the national level that truly loved the sport. It was like a junior varsity star track runner suddenly thrown into a tournament of Olympic champions. Sadly, we didn’t stand a chance.

Even with this realization, our team was brave and wanted to march forwards. We studied harder, learned smarter, and did everything we could to prepare for it. On the eve of the tournament, sitting in a half-empty family restaurant in the DC suburbs where the tournament was held, we shared our ambitions. We’ve worked for this. We’ve sacrificed for this. We were excited and ready.

The morning of the competition wasn’t nearly as well as we had hoped for. We weren’t able to do nearly as well as we had hoped, only earning 1 win out of the 6 preliminary rounds, and only 2 wins out of the 5 bracketed playoff rounds. Clearly, our skill was not even close to the top players, who were averaging 400 points per game when we were barely breaking 200. The pressure increased, tensions rose, and stress was high. For sometime after our initial morning slaughtering, Quiz Bowl wasn’t very fun. It felt humiliating and disparaging.

But after a much needed lunch break, I think I came to the realization that perhaps winning isn’t really the goal for our team. We haven’t been in the same environment as many of these teams. We didn’t prepare as extensively, nor have we been trained as much. Our tournaments were in a different skill region. To you, perhaps these reasons sound like excuses of a losing team, but they are all true facts. We weren’t using these statements to excuse our poor performance; we were trying to justify the reasons why we weren’t as hot as we thought. Realizing our own shortcomings and failures, we avowed to work doubly hard for the next year because as tiring as all of this had been; it was something that we loved.

At this point, instead of fearing Quiz Bowl and the competition that it entailed, I began to learn to love the trivia. The facts and information that made this competition so exciting in the beginning came back to me and I appreciated everything around me. Sure, we weren’t as good as we wanted to be. Sure, there was a lot of work ahead. But to someone who loves these kinds of things, this wasn’t work, but an opportunity to learn more. Think about it: just the fact that we have so much “trivia” here to be tested on must be a testament to how wonderful culture has been towards creating things worth studying about. Isn’t that just so great?!

One more important detail to note: This tournament was especially meaningful to me because it was a chance for me to actually meet several friends I’ve made online through Quiz Bowl and other organizations. As I mentioned earlier, the SSP draws in students across the US who are passionate about learning, and naturally several of them are interested in Quiz Bowl as well. I was able to meet in person some of these kids that I’ve only talked to over Facebook before. I saw a friend from Texas, who I’ve never met before IRL but shared many of the same passions about education and learning with, and even got to have a mini reunion with friends from Tennessee that I’ve all but given up in seeing again due to the physical separation. Even more exciting was meeting friends who were still strangers; there were so many friendly and enthusiastic people here that I’m eager to see again at future competitions and to chat with online.

The fact that I’ve written ~2000 words on the subject is perhaps this is a testament to what I love and hope to accomplish in this field. I wouldn’t classify it as life changing, but this tournament has reshaped my perspective on the world. It’s taught me that knowledge is out there to be loved and appreciated, and that there is a huge community of students with common interests as me. In fact, there is a huge community of people better at this than myself! The spirit of friendly competition and the thirst for knowledge will carry me far, in both Quiz Bowl and in life.

*Edit: this competition is the NSC, not the NAQT… How embarrassing. I’ve been saying it wrong all weekend long!!

I’m Sorry, There’s No News?

I found out about the event in the most oddball way – through the posting of one of my Facebook friends, stating that their school was to be closed tomorrow, but (with no luck to the poor students), IB testing will continue.

Initially, I chuckled – how odd for a school to close down in the midst of testing! (ahem, Interlake). But then, a link sparked my attention:

BangkokSchoolWait: The MILITARY has ordered all schools to close? Something was feeling wrong. Certainly, CNN should tell me what’s going on, right?

CNNWhyOh, all I need to worry about is food. No problem. But why isn’t there any information about Bangkok? Let’s do a quick google search for the phrase “Bangkok Thailand CNN”.


Okay, so there is something going on in Thailand. Judging by the look of those guns, it’s probably something pretty important. But why is CNN *Travel* reporting about this event, not, let’s say, CNN World or CNN International or CNN USA?

Maybe this is an isolated incident. Surely ABC News would have this blaring as headlines, right?


Not even close. In fact, on their home page, the word “Thailand” doesn’t even pop up.

Sadly, of all of the major American news outlets, only MSNBC had a major story on it, and even there it was directed towards the effects of the coup on tourism in the country. FOX news also had a smaller byline for the event, buried under a story about American flags breaking on the backs of motorcycles.

Truly, only BBC cut to the chase, with the very first story reporting about US condemnation of the ongoing military coup. Good old Brits doing proper reporting.

Perhaps these kinds of events have become almost blase over the past decade, as the American media has been flooded about news in the Arab Spring, the splitting of Sudan, violence in the Middle East, and just other outbreaks of horrible news. But just because the American people are not so interested in such events, it means that major media outlets should cease reporting on it?

Imagine if this headline came out: “ROYAL NAVY HALTS PARLIAMENT; DECLARES NEW UK GOV” or perhaps “CONGRESS DISSOLVED AS NATIONAL GUARD STRIKES”. How many people would be listening now? Does this mean that Americans just don’t care about foreign events in particular, or that media outlets have followed the interests of the common man and have begun filtering out that news?

I’m certain that one of the most important things about living in a democracy is the ability to have freedom of access to information. A major obstacle to this is that there is no news being created about relevant, international issues. Instead, we are flooded with pointless gossip, entertainment, and internal nonsensical politics to understand our world. Perhaps, we need to once again crave for more news in the world.







Willy. I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there’ll be nobody home. (A sob rises in her throat.) We’re free and clear. (Sobbing more fully, released.) We’re free. (Biff comes slowly toward her.) We’re free… We’re free…

Is this the beginning of the end? Or the end of the beginning? For the past 11 years of our lives, everything has been centered around this massive learning operation of books, tests, lectures and activities. And with a final pen stroke, it is done. The last tests have been sealed away in plain brown boxes, destined to travel the world in search of a grader who holds our dreams and fears in their hands.

Years of tears have gotten us this far, but I’ve shared more bodily fluids with this program than just that; the IB has taken my sticky sweat and the red-hot blood coursing though my veins. Each night of stress and every lost hour of sleep has added up to be my contribution to conquer this programme (spelled properly with two m’s and an e), but when one puts as much effort into a single operation as we have done, there is no doubt that we are left changed. There is a quickness in my blood born of challenges and endless paper 1, 2 and 3 essays, a patience in my heart born of writing and revising and writing and revising and writing and revising lab experiments (until you wonder who really is the experimenter and who’s the test subject here, eh?) and most importantly, a love in my soul for everyone that have struggled together to get to this point.

For although IB, so notorious in its academic rigor, has seemed at times to be the bane of everything good in the world, it has brought together the “best of minds of my generation” that will NOT be “destroyed by madness.” We learned to trust each other in our darkest times, searching through the small hours of the night to find classmates to talk to, the only ones that know our struggle. Crying through our smiles and laughing trough our tears, we few, we happy few; we band of students have been on the most extraordinary journey to learn about our own place in the sun. In our agony of procrastination we despaired of ever reaching the end, but look at who we are now, at how far we’ve come. Look at what we have gained, of what we have built, at what we have done. Look and see the real bonds of joy we have created between us, stronger than the strong force and more real than product of a complex number and it’s conjugate. Decades from now, when the last echoes of how to OPVL and the words “to what extent” no longer ring in my mind, this friendship will always be with me, as I hope it will always be with you.

But even as our journey comes to a halt, our mentors are still trudging forwards. Oh teachers, who have seen classes come and go, thank you for your persistence! For pushing us out of our comfort zones and into the world, for making us learn and read and think and NEVER cheat (well maybe that was the role of, you have molded us into who we are. We owe any and all successes to you.

And so, we have come to mourn the passing of Willy Loman, of the dictators Hitler Stalin and Pinochet, of two source interference, of works in translation and working IN translation, of differentiation, of late nights and of the #struggle of IB, not with sorrow but in glee. We look towards the new day, the break of dawn, to search for the next adventure. And in the infamous words of “Stay in school, kids,” we turn past the closing of the first chapter of our lives to a brand new page where we set forth into a brave new world.

Presenting the eulogy during our "funeral".

Presenting the eulogy during our “funeral”.

Love a good challenge!

The best competitions are the ones that give you free reign for creativity to flow with low risk. The old adage of beautiful things being created only under high stress and pressure is definitely not true; students are not lumps of coal being pressed into diamonds. Instead, the moment that we find a challenge that sparks off our creative frenzy is the moment that we dream of. Suddenly, ideas of procrastination are cast away and the world is our oyster.

The topic that I’ve been working on is NASA’s “Cassini Scientist For a Day” competition, a short 500 word essay on some aspect of the Cassini mission that you believe should be more expanded. Even though I consider myself to be an astronomy enthusiast, I honestly do not know enough hard facts about such specific topics. All I know what to do is look upwards and feel small, and sometimes I just need some incentive to look in a bit deeper. 3 hours later, I think I have at least some precursory knowledge of Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes, of the Cassini-Huygens mission, and of the reason of Saturn’s Polar Hexagon.

If the fact that there is just a HEXAGON larger than the ENTIRE EARTH manifested in a HUGE ETERNAL STORM does not blow your mind, I don't know what would.

If the fact that there is just a HEXAGON larger than the ENTIRE EARTH manifested in a HUGE ETERNAL STORM does not blow your mind, I don’t know what would.

The writing itself seemed a bit secondary to me as compared to just learning and diving deep into the information. Even though I sometimes wish that all of education could be like this free flow of info, I do recognize the benefits that putting ideas into concrete, logical order provides for me as a student. So search for some low-risk, high-educational benefit contests out there and learn something new this week!

Life is Funny

Life tends to work in very unpredictable ways. Even if you feel like you are in a horrible dark hole, suddenly everything is reversed and the sun comes out.

Just 40 minutes ago, I received a very non-descript email, titled nothing other than “HSHSP 2014″. The High School Honors Science Program is a very prestigious summer program at Michigan State University. I had been pinning many of my hopes on this program, as I was looking forwards to a summer of research. Michigan is one of the nation’s most prestigious universities in regards to nuclear physics, a field that I was very interested in, and one that I was willing to pursue as a career. So when my phone buzzed that I had a new email, my mind was suddenly switched to full-adrenaline mode.

Opening up that email sorta ruined that dream.

To be fair, it was a very proper rejection letter. It was personalized, had flowing, looping signatures, official seals and proper documentation of all the wonderful positions that this program has been through. It was accomodating and formal and direct and just made me feel like a pile of feces.

I immediately began to flash back to all of the times that I have felt crushed by applications. Like history essays, I have had a history of failing spectacularly. I’d been rejected time and time again from these places that I put my full heart into. This new letter just seemed to be yet another nail in the coffin, another reminder to work harder.

But soon afterwards, I began considering all that I had written on this very blog in regards to failure. I started thinking about why I didn’t make it, and rationalized my thoughts. I tried seeing the situation from the viewpoint of those who were qualified enough to be accepted, and stoically decided to not give up. Giving up is easy in the face of hardships, but to persevere is to be strong. I plugged into my most motivational Macklemore music, searched up some inspirational quotes about staying hungry, and dived right back into my Math HL Practice Tests. Other people might try to find refuge in humor, I thought, but I will drown my emotions in hard work.

20 minutes later, I looked up from the sea of formulae to see my phone buzzing with another email. This email was far more enigmatic, stating nothing but a name that I had never heard of and a simple “Congratulations!”. Geez, what was it going to be now, another notification that I had “qualified to win ONE MILLION DOLLARS in our GRAND SWEEPSTAKES DRAWING!!!”? Or maybe it’s one of those Nigerian princes again?

Wrong. It was the Summer Science Program. I had just been accepted as a participant to study mathematics, physics, and astronomy for 6 weeks at New Mexico Tech, at the location of the Very Large Array radio telescopes.

It had been my dream to study at this location for several years; since watching “Contact” directed by Carl Sagan in middle school. I had imagined gazing at the Milky Way under the clear cloudless skies of New Mexico for years. It just..blew me away. I shot off like a firecracker to call my parents and to just celebrate.

Even in the post-acceptance euphoria, the dark mellow tones of my prior rejection were still lingering in my head. Like the words that I had just written, I still stayed resolved to not stop fighting. The world is not ready to open itself to anyone; it demands hard work and sacrifice. I couldn’t afford to stay celebratory; life is not made for the hard work in the valleys.

Made for the valleyI’m glad as to how the world worked out for me. If the order had been reversed, starting off with success and ending in failure, I would have been much more likely to shrug off the latter as just a minor setback. Instead, right now, I am painfully aware of the struggle that is always around me. I vow to stay humble and to keep on working hard on my tasks and duties.


“Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don’t.” – Tom Hiddleston


Sour grapes

Human nature dictates for us to have a sense of competition, of winners and losers. We create races, challenges, puzzles, anything to test our bodies and our minds. These competitions are great because they allow people to find ways to improve and be better, but in the end, there can only be one.

When there are winners, there are losers. And when there are losers, there are sour grapes. The murmur of indignation starts to bubble up just as results are announced.

“Well, everyone knew that the race was fixed. “
“Oh I didn’t study for this anyways.”
“I was too lazy to try.”
“I’m too tired to do anything.”

And on and on, the excuses flow.

I understand these excuses in my life. The idea that I am simply not good enough is feared. If I choose to measure my self worth solely on how I do in competitions, no doubt would these hateful statements slip from my tongue continuously. Why “hateful” statements? For one, muttering excuses is really hating on yourself. Rather than choosing to reflect on the experience, you are consciously pretending that it just wasn’t a big deal. Depriving oneself of the opportunity to improve and reconsider is a rather poor education – and life – decision.

Sour grapes turn the world around you sour as well. When you publicly announce that “This competition is rubbish”, what are you saying to the person who worked for hours perfecting their project? Or perhaps a snide “el oh el congratz I totes could have done wayyyy better :P :) :)” can hurt just as much. Although it may seem that the only way we can make ourselves feel better is by putting down others, it is very rarely a proper path.

Why would one intentionally bad mouth humans who are friends, colleagues, or coworkers? These are people who you should be celebrating with, not laughing at! A few heartfelt kind words would bring happiness, while a mocking tone only separates. Even if you are brilliant alone, it doesn’t hurt to be assisted and produce something better. Perhaps your ego may take a hit, at which point I’d like to ask: why are you competing? To learn, to discover, to play to explore to entertain to improve, perchance to dream?

The original fable from Aesop was about a fox who saw grapes right out of his reach. After straining to reach them, he eventually gives up and moves on. Today, it is as if all of us are reaching for those sweet jewels, but when someone succeeds, we shower lemon juice on everything. We cloud our own judgement and punish others out of spite and malice. At the same time, words of honey could have been used to brighten everybody’s day.

Happy Birthday!

I usually don’t see myself as one of the popular kids. Eating lunch with me can be an arduous task as I poke at my food, or if you get stuck walking down a hall with me, I’ll be robotically marching forwards. Instead, I’m usually in a million events because I love being around these amazing people who can bring a smile to my face anytime. Every class, every club is a joy because of the time that I get to spend with my class mates.

Seeing and hearing such an outpouring of love today really sorta blew me away. My memory is dirt poor; I can’t unlock my gym locker, remember phone numbers, not even to mention birthdays, so I really couldn’t believe that people would remember mine. Although it isn’t the numbers that make me heart melt, but the realization that I have so many friends out there that care for me. I truly appreciate all of your kind words, and hope that I can bring as much joy to you as you have brought to me.

I believe that about a year ago, I wrote something to the point of celebrating people every single day of the year. Even though I still hold that to be entirely true, tough times through this year has made me reconsider bits and pieces of that. It might be somewhat impossible to always stay positive, but bright shining days can make dark storm clouds fade into the past. When I am struggling in the future, I’ll keep the love of my friends in mind!

For everyone else, happy spring equinox! The world has once again equalized in terms of hours of light and dark, and for us in the Northern hemisphere, we are moving towards bright days ahead :)


This picture is 100% not photoshopped. (Photoshop is way to fancy for me; paint is the way to go!)

Train Wreck

What seems to be most terrifying of a train wreck is the inevitability by which it happens. It isn’t like a car accident, where the movements are spontaneous and fluid. Car accidents can be avoided by swerving to the side of the road, perhaps trading major damages for minor ones.

When I picture a train wreck, the stereotypical image I get is of two trains chugging full speed at each other because of a silly switch error made maybe 200 kilometers ago. But it doesn’t matter, because somehow two trains are in the same track, going in opposite directions. Crash is imminent.

What’s worse is that the people on the train can probably see the death and destruction that is coming ahead. They might try to get the engineer to pull the breaks as hard as s/he can, but it is no use. There is no escape from death here. The tracks are too forbidding.

I stand outside all of this, watching frame by frame as deadlines and due dates pile up. Sometimes, no matter how much I chug away at my stack of work, the readings never end. The vectors seem to multiply. The soliloquies go on for an eternity. The essays don’t have an end, nor a middle, nor a beginning.

I’ve gotta just separate myself out from all of this and try harder in slamming those breaks on, or else be ready to pick myself up from the rubble.