June 2, 2005

As it currently stands, students from the Class of 2005 – that means the outgoing seniors, for the numerically dyslexic – make up about 44% of the Planet Xavier population. I’ve been asked many times about what I’m planning to do this summer, since the outgoing seniors have obviously ceased to be students at St. X as of last night.

So here’s my plan, still subject to change:

  1. I’m still working on the pX redesign. The general design has been worked out so far. New features will (hopefully) include user preferences, the ability to collapse posts that you’ve already read, and a few themes to choose from. I don’t have a preview ready yet, but I will sometime soon. Expect this project to be completed by mid-Summer.

  2. Sometime in August (probably), I’m going to take the ’05 blogs and split them into their own alumni Planet, tentatively called Planet Xavier ’05 (no surprise there). Entries by the Class of 2005 will appear on this Planet alone, and not the general pX listing. As always, any member of pX ’05 can request to be removed from the site. It will remain functional until there is general consensus that the community should be disbanded, or until so few members are left that the Planet will be pointless. (How useful would a Planet with two people be?)

    Taking the seniors out of the general listing will no doubt demolish the blog count that I’ve taken so much pride in building, but more ’08 blogs are beginning to show up as the upcoming sophomores are beginning to network. The trick will be to find all the ’09 blogs. That’ll be the daunting task of my successor; more on that later.

  3. Also this summer, I will be working with Peter Rother to create more alumni Planets. Very little of this project has been worked out so far, but I would like these alumni Planets to follow the future design and naming scheme of pX. Thus, the site for Peter’s class will be pX ’04.

    Peter has expressed interest in maintaining the alumni communities at his own domain. It’s unclear at the moment whether all of pX will be moved there. Hosting Planet on Peter’s servers will have the advantage of cronability, which means the Planets will be automatically updated at regular intervals – I already hear crowds cheering.

  4. With all that out of the way, I’ll hand over pX to my colleague Brad Haines, an upcoming junior. At that point, he will be in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the site. His responsibilities will include searching the Web for new student blogs to list, contacting them about their blogs (in person, via e-mail, etc.), processing hackergotchi requests, and responding to heated complaints. I will remain on hand to help out whenever needed.

  5. Brad, Peter, and I will then have to decide where to keep pX: where it is now, on Brad’s shiny new f2o account, or on Peter’s state-of-the-art servers.

    With both the design and domain finalized, we can finally take Planet Xavier out of beta and start advertising it around school. Brad and I have discussed possibilities including flyers on the main bulletin board and in individual classrooms, morning PA announcements, advertisements in the Blueprint, button-banners for people to link to us, and (of course) word-of-mouth.

    I’m a bit uneasy about some of these planned initiatives, since we’ll be pulling a USC by getting our word out so much. As I’ve mentioned to many people already, we risk catching the administration’s attention. Even if they don’t then start reading pX, the damage will’ve been done; there might be a “chilling effect”: students would be afraid to post something that their school administrators read. Hopefully it’ll turn out a lot better though; the stunning success of the Swordfighting Club on MusicFest, despite Mr. Odioso’s knowledge of the club, is a good sign.

    Another component of advertising pX will have to be something like a “get out the vote” campaign: since so many people are still apparently unaware of weblogs, we’re going to have to educate them about the medium and encourage them to start their own blogs.

There’ll be quite a lot of stuff going on this summer, and since I’m heading off to college come mid-September, there’s quite a bit of pressure for me to actually go through with my plans for once. I have no doubt that this service will be of use to at least someone, and I’m quite glad to have been a part of its creation.

May 30, 2005

Sometime last year, the school Counseling Dept. asked me to write out a tedious profile of myself, including things like accomplishments I’m proud of, activities I’m involved in, and the like. Naturally, I procrastinated the assignment until the night before it was due. So at around 11:30 at night, after laboring through the Biology workbook, I get to the section where I have to list ten words that would describe me. The first word that my pen could come up with for me was, of all things, maverick.

If you’ve ever met me in person, I don’t seem like a very nonconformist person. I’m not a goth, not emo, not punk, not a hippie, not “gangsta,” and not quite geeky. Between the olive green polo shirt, light tan khakis, and black tennis shoes, you’d think that I work after school as a caddy at an exclusive golf club. But I don’t.

See, the way I look at it, the typical nonconformist just wants to break rules – they want to go against the status quo. And they do it so well that they end up conforming to a counterculture (sorry Nick). That’s not the way I “deconform.” I do things my own way when I can find a good reason to.

I can only get away with calling myself a maverick because I try my best not to fall right into a stereotype, without falling right into the stereotype of a nonconformist. As an Asian-American, I suppose I’m expected to get unnaturally high grades at school, excel at math and piano, and have no life whatsoever. Although some of that may be the case with me – I claim that I have a life, but some people just won’t believe me – I have my own identity, and it’s a source of pride for me.

Part of that is in my opinions. I don’t blindly follow anyone when it comes to agreeing or disagreeing with something. I’m proud that I resisted the urge to chant “Four more years!” and wear all the Bush paraphernalia at school, and actually discussed the issues before the elections instead of complaining afterwards; proud that I’m quite possibly the only senior not to get his name in the Blueprint at least once – my name appears to be infamous in some parts.

Another part of that is in my preferences. I’m proud that I used Mozilla Firefox back when it was still called m/b and Phoenix, before anyone had even heard of it around here; that I never got into money-wasting fads like Pogs, Furbys, Jelly-Roll pens, or Pokémon, which I never would’ve enjoyed anyways. It’s the little things, too: I’m quite satisfied knowing that I have yet to eat Thai Chicken of my own volition. And since the Fourth Grade, I’ve abandoned half of the cursive script that my teachers forced upon me – namely, the capital letters.

To the left, the standard capital letter Q. To the right, my version. Ramona Quimby would be proud.

But it’s not all about pride. Really, it isn’t, and I don’t want to turn this into a bragging contest between me, myself, and I. There’s always another reason behind my desire to go the other way. For example, my intense disdain for the cliché.

If someone were to ask me what I’d like most for the world, I would not parrot the “world peace and an end to world hunger” mantra. Not that I don’t believe in an end to needless death – I do – but why repeat what ten thousand others have said, if one more mention by me, of all people, won’t help? I have to say something more meaningful to the person asking me the question. And that’s what makes retreats so hard for me, especially when we go in small groups and start going around the circle with our responses.

Hold on, let me come up with something!

In writing this essay, I’m not trying to find out what the meaning of my life is. There’s not use in asking that. I give my life a little more meaning each time I stray from the easy path of conformity, because each time I do something novel, whether it’s writing a Q the right way or writing a program in Python instead of Java, there’s a reason behind that.

So, come graduation this Wednesday, you won’t be seeing me in a pink cap and sunglasses, “just because.” Instead, you’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped giving purpose to my life. It’s just, I’m still thinking of something to say when I break the rules.

[Correction] Justin Lorenz dutifully points out that my name has appeared in the Blueprint – not once, but twice in the same issue. The Blueprint’s last-last-last-last issue, a little leaflet passed around on MusicFest. It mentioned me in the comprehensive list of seniors going to college (so there’s no escaping for me), and in a list of “most likely” futures for us: I was “most likely to become a gym teacher.” Can you imagine me becoming a Mr. Rasso when I grow up? Oh, I can just see it now…

May 11, 2005

Okay, the post that you’ve all been waiting for… sorry it took so long; I’ve been beseiged with AP exams.

The Blueprint ended the year today with, unsurprisingly, an excessive amount of humor, not only from the controversial Backside, which I covered recently, but also from the typically serious news section.

It may seem like an eternity ago, but the Schneider ticket for Student Council leadership got elected not too long ago, not in time to make the printing deadlines for the previous issue of the Blueprint. Given that Weber/CareFace ’04 created a de facto standard of corny humor, it should come as no surprise that each ticket tried to capitalize on the Weber precedent, by flooding the school halls with bad jokes and other nonsense. The Blueprint just couldn’t resist including the now-famous “Maximus Schneider” flyer. About that flyer, I’m sorry but… no comment.

Since I’m sure absolutely no one wants to read through Blueprint critiques as lengthy as March’s, I’ll give only some of what I think here, refraining from mentioning the typical array of embarrassing typos and grammatical errors:

  • Please, please, get pagination right. When you say that the feature article (“Schneider Ticket Takes the Reins”) is going to be “Continued as Student Council on p.3,” the article had better be continued as “Student Council” on page 3. Not as (no title) on page 4. That’s embarrassing.

  • And… uh… I suppose when you promise us that “CRYSM Meeting Raises Questions” will be “Continued as CRYSM on p.4,” you actually mean page 5?

    Then again, since Mr. Brower has proven that 1=2, I suppose you could make a corollary to justify the mixups.

  • John Bell is right in taking a look at the social motivations for cheating. But I think it isn’t enough to simply say, “at least we’re making progress,” when in fact all we’ve done is acknowledge that there is a problem. This is the Viewpoints section, after all. You don’t simply report the news, you try to make some sense of it. Expect more from me on this topic later on.

  • We cannot rest on our laurels. While it is true that we’ve made quite a bit of progress regarding homophobia, having actually gotten students to discuss the issues surrounding it, simply to say “we have a long way to go” is the same as saying “Keep up the good work, HAC! I’ll just sit back and watch.” Yes, we have a long way to go. And anyone who mentions that fact ought to say something else about it, too.

    This is a challenge to all the students who will survive long enough to return to St. X next year: do something to change attitudes at school.

  • Like so many other people, I get turned off by televangelists. The cross display is indeed the wrong approach. It is ineffective. Sure, it may be a powerful symbol, but it does nothing to convince those who don’t agree with you. They’re your target audience, no?

  • In “Fast food Finger Folly,” among a multitude of errors, I found this abomination:

    Therscaresparks all kinds of wonderment about the nature of fast-food chains and questions as to their actual quality…

    (Emphasis mine.) Whazzat?

  • It’s nice to see that the Unofficial Swordfighting Club now gets some official recognition. The irony is stunning. Recently, I’ve been asked by many juniors and underclassmen how exactly you become a member of the club. Really, the best and only way is to actually get in touch with a current member, so you can find out when they meet. Then you just show up. There’s no application or membership process or anything.

  • I’ve known Jaime for four years now, and he’s yet to threaten to “break” me. Odd.

    Papa still plays Sega. And I still play SuperNES. Your point is? :^)

And this brings us to the ridiculous three pages of Backside. Pitiful, especially given that they didn’t include my article.

Actually, I realize that my article had little chance of making it into the Blueprint from the time I started writing it. I typed it up during 5th period on the day it was due, then quickly dropped it off at the Blueprint office. By then, they already had their three pages.

But seriously, my article would’ve been at least a bit better than the one that Shane has on the back of the back of the Backside.

Of worth this issue were “Joe Besl’s Bio” by Tom Silver, “Homeless Man Goes Home” by Andy Brownfield, “Virgin Mary Livens Up School Day” by Joe again (featuring DJ Miller), and “Things I Won’t Miss” by Tom again.

Having read the article and seen the original image that clearly offended so many last week, I deem that the image was so inappropriate that I will issue a recommendation to the school administration first thing tomorrow morning: Mr. Odioso et al. will henceforth conduct random, schoolwide Photoshop raids, in order to purge the school of all technologies which may be used to commit such heinous acts, persuant to the DMCA.

Also: join the fight against Comic Sans MS.

Even if this issue contained more than its fair share of mistakes and errors, I still think the Blueprint ended this year on a high note. I’ll blog about this more later on, in an upcoming series “Going Out: Reflections of an almost-ex-senior.” (If I ever get around to it, that is.)

  1. Seniors on Planet Xavier
  2. Going Out: Breaking the rules
  3. Last Blueprint critique of my high school career
  4. School approves budget for 2005-06 school year
  5. Shooting the messenger
  6. Resistance is futile
  7. Blueprint delivers timely issue
  8. Whimpering out of Quiz Team
  9. Picking nits with the Blueprint
  10. Behind enemy lines
  11. No comment
  12. Public Enemy № 1: In defense
  13. In the third person
  14. Presentation is everything
  15. First time I noticed
  16. In advance
  17. One Word
  18. Expensive Blueprint
  19. Blueprint Confiscated
  20. The Good, the Bad, the Blueprint
  21. Retraction
  22. Correction?
  23. Red Cards for the Blueprint