Ron Paul Curriculum, English 1, Lesson 10
Writing assignment, 500 words: “What are three stories in my life that I would have to include in my autobiography?”
Over the course of my (relatively short) life, I have amassed a (small) collection of stories that I may use in an autobiography some day. Among them are receiving my Black Belt in Karate, another is the time I published my first Android app. The most recent one actually started with the Ron Paul Curriculum and only ended a week ago (September 6th), while I was completing the lessons prior to writing this essay. It’s about how I passed my first CLEP test: History of the United States 1: Early Colonization to 1877.
I started Karate in 2007. I was five years old at the time, living in Virginia. The dojo I went to was called Black Belt Academy, in Haymarket. For some, irrational reason, I did not want to go at first, and my mom had to force me.
Thank you, Mom.
I learned a lot. Each belt had requirements for pushups, sit-ups, forms, and sparring. They ranged from White belt (at the bottom) through yellow, green, purple, blue, red, 2nd degree brown, 1st degree brown, and then Black Belt, the highest. I made it to red belt before we moved back to Texas in 2009. After we got settled, we looked around, and found Family Martial Arts, another dojo. It had different prerequisites for each belt, and I got to keep using my red belt while I learned the new requirements. I made it to 1st degree brown belt before we followed one of the masters who went to start his own dojo, Retro Sport Karate. At Retro Sport, I kept at it, and finally graduated to Black Belt on September 22nd 2012. Among the requirements were that I needed to do 100 pushups in less than three minutes, 100 sit-ups, three minutes, run two miles in less than 24 minutes, and know several advanced forms (on top of knowing forms for the lower belts). I had to break boards with my BARE HANDS, and there was also a sparring endurance requirement. I had to last many minutes against multiple opponents.
My next story is about how I published my first Android app on the Google Play store. I’ve been programming in Java for years now and, more recently, learning how to make mobile apps for Android devices. My app is called “The Rock, the Paper, and the Scissors”. So named because my mom gave me the idea to use music from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the background. The app has three modes. Hotseat mode allows two people to play on the same phone, Bluetooth mode (Which will be available soon(tm) with a free update) allows two people to use their own phones to “Fight”, and automatic match has the phone play against itself. You can download the free version here. A full version (Without ads, and including the Lizard Spock extension) will be available some time in the future.
Total development time was about three months from beginning to release, during which I was doing a lot of the following: Coding, More coding, Accidentally breaking stuff, Intentionally fixing stuff, finding pictures of rocks and scissors on the Internet, modifying those images (sometimes beyond recognition), finding various free downloads for sound files, and then modifying those. I had to use my mom’s Google account for ad hosting because someone (Cough, AdMob, Cough) doesn’t like 14 year-olds making money off of ads. For the store listing, I had to make various images, and I needed a written description. Then I pressed the publish button, and made it available to download.
Since then, I’ve been working (to this day) to make updates. The first and biggest update will add Bluetooth mode, along with several optimizations, bug fixes, and tweaks. The full $1.00 version will also be released some time in the future, including everything the free version has, without the ads, and including the Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock extension.
The third and most recent event would be passing my first CLEP test. Three months ago, after watching some of the Academic Boot Camp videos on the Ron Paul Curriculum, I finished K12’s American History course up to 1877. My mom and I decided that since the facts were still fresh in my memory, it would be a good idea to get college credit with the History of the United States 1: Early Colonization to 1877 CLEP test. Little did we know that the questions were way more than “What did the Conquistador Cortes do?” and, “Which of the following did NOT prompt the Boston Tea Party?” We were surprised by the questions such as, “What did the Supreme Court rule in the McCulloch v. Maryland case?” in the practice test. To rectify this, I had to study for about 2.5 months to fill my brain with information. We used official CLEP study books, a site called InstantCert, and more practice tests. Now my brain feels crammed full of information. I could tell you all about American history. I could tell you about the Federalist party, the Anti-Federalists, the Republicans, the Democrats, Whigs, Free Soil Party, Know-Nothings, and the modern Republican party. I could tell you about how Whig President William Harrison died of pneumonia a month after his two-hour long inaugural address in the freezing cold. I could tell you how President James Polk lied about his plans for the Oregon territory in his campaign (“54° 40′ or fight!”), rather looking south to extend slavery. I could even tell you that John Wilkes Booth was an actor (I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he also had anger management problems). In retrospect, I don’t think the K12 study material made much of a difference.
On September 6th, we went to a nearby college campus for the scheduled CLEP. I had to sign in, enter the testing room, and take an hour and a half to answer 120 questions on a computer. I also had to agree that I would not tell anyone outside of the testing room about the individual questions. When my time ran out, I was almost done reviewing all of my marked answers. After a two-question survey asking me about my CLEP experience, I was asked if I wanted to keep my score permanently or erase it. I had two minutes to decide, or it would be automatically counted as “Keep.” I looked around the screen. No scores anywhere. I asked the man managing the test, “Excuse me, where can I see my score?”
“You have to confirm it first.”
What? I thought. I made up my mind and decided I felt pretty confident. Upon confirmation, my final score was a 71, out of a maximum of 80. A solid ‘A’ according to the official CLEP book. I was (am) 14 years old, with college credit.
If I was to write an autobiography, these are three moments that I would probably include. I feel really proud of them, and I think they will be important stories for someone reading an autobiography by me. Of course, I still have to do something to make it worth someone’s time, such as inventing Faster Than Light communications once we’ve colonized nearby star systems. 😀 (Or I could just leave it around for historians…)