Last Thoughts

Recently, I’ve talked with a few people about life, more specifically the high school life us seniors have essentially just finished. As we shared the usual gossip which always tends to come out whether you like it or not, there was a lot of talk about “fake” people. I’d like to take a bit more time to address this. Some people, whom I would describe as fake, have the dangerous and disturbing penchant for masquerading as someone that they aren’t, and the only time they are “real” is in front of their closest friends or their family. This is pretty bad. I’m not sure why some people think they are supposed to be better at pretending to be someone they aren’t than being the person they are. And when people realize that their life is just an act, I both chuckle because they had it coming and cringe in angstension at the same time. If people don’t see the morally unacceptable side of being fake, then at least observe the embarrassment and social fallout that people face when their act is uncovered along with the fact that this uncovering is inevitable.

Despite this, I’d just like to say that I’ve had an excellent time in my brief two years at Consol and in College Station. I’ve met a multitude of new people, all of them boundlessly unique and interesting, certainly more interesting than the standard Dallas private school kids around which I had spent all of my time up there. I certainly look forward to next year in college, but at the same time I know I’ll be leaving behind a huge number of great people, many of whom I have not had the opportunity  to get to know as well as I would like. I know graduating is supposed to be a big deal, but as it approaches, it seems to be more and more tame and just part of everyday life than I would have ever expected.



I’ve never really been one to say much. Sure, there is the occasional time during which I get excited when someone starts a conversation about cars or tennis or math, but otherwise, I don’t really talk. Although, this wasn’t always the case. When I was little, I was always the loudest kid in the room. I would talk constantly, surely annoying every poor soul who had to listen to me blabbering on. This shift from talking incessantly to barely saying a word unless provoked was more a gradual one. But, it was a good one. As I said less and less, I began to listen more and more. And listening is the best way to obtain information. So, rather than distracting people with my endless blabbering, I began to educate myself. And this is something I would urge all of you to do: listen.

We’ve known that listening is important from the start. Why do teachers separate students who talk too much during class? Because they aren’t listening. Why do coaches shame the kids who don’t know how to do the drill? Because they weren’t listening. Why do parents shout from time to time? So that their kids listen. Listening is the only way we obtain information, and information is at the basis of what you need to succeed. Last Thanksgiving, my family decided to have dinner/lunch/turkey at Cafe Eccell (weird, right?). My parents had a guest over from England, and he was a professor in London who worked with Statistics. I was just in the middle of my application process for Oxford, and since he was familiar with the English system, we thought he would be able to give me some suggestions. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really, at least not for the application process itself. But what he did tell me was that in mathematics, all it takes is a whole lot of work. And why is that? Because all you really need to know is the information. There are a whole bunch of students who simply aren’t successful not because they aren’t brilliant, but because they don’t know the information. This is why listening is so important. You don’t need to be a genius to be successful; all you really need is the information. And the easiest way to get the information is by listening.

These days, the rapidly advancing mobile phone industry is taking over our lives. Now there are watches that can essentially act as phones, turning once basic tools into distraction machines. If you have ever been to any event where a speaker is giving a speech, including this one, you’ll probably notice there are a significant number of audience members on their phones. These phones are not only impeding our ability to listen when we’re using them, they also kill our attention span outside of the time we use them. For those of you fortunate enough to remember that wondrous piece of literature called The Shallows, you are already well acquainted with this phenomenon. For those of you that aren’t, personal experience should suffice in explaining this harmful fact of the tech world we live in. Sometimes I have the bad tendency of completely losing my train of thought mid-sentence. For those of you that have witnessed this, it leaves me staring wide-eyed and with open mouth into space. This never used to happen. It only started happening a few years ago, when I got my hands on a smartphone for the first time. All those notifications and hyperlinks mean you can never pay attention to a single thing. And as your brain is programmed to purposefully distract itself through these notifications and hyperlinks on your phone, it will do the same away from your phone. The reason I mention these phones is that this technological frenzy is only going to get worse in destroying your ability to listen. And it is only if you recognize it now that you will be able to do something about it.

Throughout my two years here at Consol, I’ve tutored a fair number of students. I rarely get frustrated, but the thing that frustrates me most is those students that just want me to tell them how to solve the one problem they’re having trouble with. They say, “Yeah, just tell me how to solve this one, and I’ll be set.” Then when I solve it, they say thanks. And just to make sure they actually know what they’re doing, I’ll ask them to solve a similar problem with a slight tweak. Of course, many of them unfortunately can’t. When I show them that it was almost identical to the one I just solved for them, they complain, “But I only need to solve the homework problems, and this one isn’t on the homework.” I tell them, “Okay, but how are you going to be ready for the test when you can’t solve a problem almost identical to the homework problems.” They say, “I’m ready for the test, I solved all the homework problems.” “Sure, but that’s not the point. Just because you can solve the homework problems doesn’t mean you know that material. Go ahead and memorize all the homework problems, it won’t help you one bit. The point is that you understand and know the material, then use your knowledge to solve the problems, and your solutions to the problems certify you knowledge.” They then generally say “Oh” and walk away.

Although this is maybe not as universally applicable as the necessity of listening, it is still important to all of you that are going into anything academic. Know the material. Live the material. Breathe the material. Let the material become a part of you. Don’t memorize. You will have forgotten it all in a heartbeat. Have you heard that cleanly shaven guy on the youtube commercials with the Lamborghini but also the shelves upon shelves of books? He always says knowledge is the key to success. In many ways he is right. Listen to obtain the knowledge. Then understand to retain it.


The English language needs a word to describe the moment in sports at which something that is both beautiful and insanely god-like occurs. Sure, you can say “wow that was amazing” or “he’s working those angles like a diamond cutter” or “his reactions are like a mongoose on meth,” but that really doesn’t cut it. There needs to be a single word that can match the intensity and insanity of such a moment.

I suggest that we adopt the word “insanirelease” to describe these moments.

Example: On youtube, there are more and more super high quality 4k videos each day. These are great for watching nature scenes, but even better for watching sports. A few weeks ago, I was watching a 4k video of Roger Federer practicing. The video was courtside, so you get a great feel for what the players are experiencing. And after a few standard shots back and forth, Roger, the maestro, steps inside the baseline on a short ball while running around his backhand and unleashes with his liquid whip of a forehand, hitting a clean, crisp inside out winner. This shot was a moment of insanirelease, because its insanity resulted in an unparalleled cosmic release of tension. The video is given below (Note: I  realize this may seem lame if you don’t like tennis. In that case, pick a sport you like so you can get your moment of insanirelease)

The shot is at 0:11

Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (orange and yellow)”

There is this land, a land of colors. Just like the planet we live on, this land has upwards of seven billion different colors living in it. Although, they don’t have many of the amenities we have. Just as we have colors that make up our vision of nature and the outdoors, these colors have blank space, or black, of which their nature consists. They don’t have animals, and these colors are all in the shape of perfect cubes. As the colors get older, the corners and edges of their cubes wear down a little bit. Much like how we can judge the age of a tree fairly accurately by examining the rings in the trunk, the age of these colors can be determined by inspecting the wear of the  edges and corners of the colors. These colors can communicate, but their form of communication is far too complex for an explanation the English language could offer. These colors also live for thousands of years, but since their life is far more complicated than our own, and the notion of time and its length ultimately come down to one’s perception of it, their lifespan is really of no relevance.

So, now to these two colors. As is apparent by a brief investigation of these cubes’ edges, even though there are a few kinks in their armor, they are fairly young. They are stacked on top of each other as part of a bizarre game that is frequently played on this planet. Because these colors are cubes, they are perfect for stacking. Also, due to the fact that naturally untarnished cubes will stack more evenly, generally only the youngsters of this planet partake in this game. The objective of the game is quite straightforward: to stack as high as possible. These two shades of yellow and orange were best friends. But because their perfect cube form had been corroded by a fair amount of rough-housing, two blocks was the highest these two cubes could manage. An additional detail about this painting is the background. It is a different shade because that color is the referee of this game. As to why it is so much bigger than the other two blocks in front of it? That is merely a tendency amongst the race of referees.

rothko orange-and-yellow


I think to myself, “I can do this; I’m a detective after all.” So, i hop onto the small platform behind the last carriage of the train. I’m able to keep my balance thanks to a vertical pipe that runs the height of the carriage. As I am on the platform, I try to listen in on the conversation going on inside. Something about a box of cocaine and the lady, who is clearly foreign, as given away by her heavy accent and odd hat, wanting it to be delivered to the right place, which she points out on her map with wild gesticulations is not the place the train is currently headed. Deciding I should probably do something before this escalates or at least to stop this transfer of a massive amount of crack, after taking a quick peep through the window, I open the door on the platform and run in.

Having pulled my gun which I always carry around with me, the lady immediately raised her hands and dropped the map while the young man set down the box and, raising his hands, asked me if I wanted some money. I responded that I just wanted to do what’s right, but he insisted that he wasn’t just talking about some small sum. He claimed there was ten kilos of coke in his box, which amounted to about half a million dollars. I, being of feeble will, acquiesced. He seemed delighted but I could tell he was trying hard to cover it up. At this point I had forgotten about the train I missed. I put the gun back in its holster. The two told me the situation, and I suggested an alternate route so that we could get to the right destination.

As we were arriving at our final destination, somewhere in the middle of  Siberia, I was exhausted, having been on a train for the last ten hours. As I step off the train, some husky Russian guy put a bag over my head. He told me to shut up and all the while that little weasel who had been on the train with me for the last ten hours was laughing his head off. The lady, on the other hand, didn’t seem to say anything. They took me to what I felt was an empty warehouse, and only once I felt the barrel of a rifle against the back of my head was my idiotic automatic assumption that all of humanity was good was finally cracked as I realized that I wasn’t going to get my money. Now it makes sense why I never got a promotion as a detective..


In this post Steven discussed the parent-child relationships in Hamlet and the portion that I commented on related to his implied claim that Claudius is a better person than Gertrude.

In this post Ester talked about Jackson Pollock’s painting and discusses the effect she believes Pollock’s biography specifically had on his painting. After that, she talked about what she believed Nancy Sullivan’s poem meant.

In this post Tyler discussed a painting of what he believed was Ophelia in the line “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. that’s for thoughts.” He commented specifically on Ophelia’s resemblance to angelic and Mother Earth-like figures.

Poetry Prompt

The Big Question: How does each speaker explore his particular situation?

Sound Devices:

  1. Rhyme Scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG in poem 1 and ABBA ABBA CDCDCD in poem 2)
  2. Assonance (“high-pilèd books, in charactery,” in poem 1)

Literary Devices

  1. Metaphor (“cataract of death” in poem 2 and “full-ripened grain” in poem 1)
  2. Imagery (“trace Their shadows with the magic hand” in poem 1, “smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights” in poem 2)
  3. Personification (“love and fame to nothingness do sink.” in poem 1)


  1. Poem 1 has a shift at the last 2.5 lines, dividing it into two sections
  2. Poem 2 is divided into 3 sections based on the 3 independent clauses


Thesis: Both speakers use poetic techniques to emphasize their feeling of missed opportunity in their poems, while the first poem focuses more on the idea of the chances missed as a result of pondering missed chances and the second poem is centered around the impending nature of death.

Paragraph 1: The speakers of each poem use literary devices to ponder missed opportunities and emphasize their differing view of their consequences.

  1. Metaphor (“full-ripened grain”)
  2. Image (“smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights”)
  3. Metaphor (“cataract of death”)
  4. Personification (“love and fame to nothingness do sink.”)

Paragraph 2: Both poems also have structure that reflect the common theme of missed opportunities while emphasizing different aspects of this theme.

  1. Poem 1 has a shift at the last 2.5 lines, dividing it into two sections
  2. Poem 2 is divided into 3 sections based on the 3 independent clauses