yesterday it was real, today only memories remain…

The PHS 2013 forensics season was concluded this weekend with two state competitions, one in Madison, WI on Friday and second in Ripon, WI on Saturday. This also ends my and many others High school forensics careers. First I want to look back at where it all began.

In November 2012, I decided to randomly join the PHS forensics team, not knowing what I had signed up for, but I learned quickly that whatever it was, I would have to work hard to accomplish my personal goals. When it became time for me to choose my category, I faced a hard decision. I ended up choosing Extemporaneous speaking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extemporaneous_speaking) because I like challenges. I started a hard period of initial practice to get used to my category in December.

On January 23rd, I had my first competition in Appleton. I will always remember this competition, with all the stress and drama involved! After this competition I had the chance to compete at many other schools around the state (Sun Prairie, Kaukana, Sheboygan South, New London and Brookfield East).  These competitions were preparation for my ultimate goal, the state meet at Ripon College.

On April 20th, we competed for the last time this season at Ripon College. It was a hard tournament for me, mainly because I knew that there were many people who I have learned to know in the last four months that I would possibly never meet again. But I tried my best to set that to the side and focus on the competition. My questions for this meet involved texting while driving, secretary of state Kerry visiting China and cyberbullying at school. To my surprise, I was ranked first in my third round (out of 7) which led to my advancement to the semi-finals (first time powering). This was definitely the biggest surprise that I have met during this year. I gave my semi-final speech on the following topic: “Is the dollar overvalued?”. I knew that this would be the end of my season after giving the speech, because it lacked structure and knowledge. I am still incredibly happy over what I’ve achieved in only a few months. My final position at the state meet was 12th.

Our team also competed in the Wisconsin High school Forensics association. These competitions are different, as we compete against ourselves instead of against others in the same category. The season started in February with Sub-District in Kohler. Our team did great and everybody advanced to District. Between Sub-District and District we competed in our conference. PHS was the number one school at our conference again this year! We had our district meet at Bayport High school, North of Green Bay. As in Sub-district, everybody advanced to the next round, which was the state tournament. On Friday April 19th, we traveled to Madison for our one round competition. Our entire team did great, as everybody got at least bronze. I got 23 points out of 25, which is worth a silver ūüôā

This season has been incredible, and so have the people who I have had a chance to meet during these few months. The entire team from Plymouth is truly awesome and supportive! I also had the chance to learn to know many students from my category, but also many other categories and schools! Forensics would be nothing without all of you amazing people, and I just want to thank everybody for the support!

Furthermore, School here is great, still one and a half month to go until graduation, but time is flying now. Even though it is supposed to be spring, it is still snowing here, but hopefully the weather will get a little warmer before summer! Now I want to share some pictures from the last few months ūüôā peace out!

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new year, new activities (uusi vuosi, uudet kujeet)

Hi everybody!

The new year has started very quickly, and I can’t believe that we are already half way through January! This month will include everything from Final exams to more biking.

Final exams are coming up in school, and it is a rather stressful time in school. Every teacher wants us to perform on top-level, and priorities have to be set by us, the students. Having three “college credit” classes isn’t really making life easier. Trigonometry is the topic in math right now, building a yeast mobile in biotechnical engineering and talking about calorimetry and thermo chemistry in advanced Chemistry. Our exams will be next week, and the quarter ends on thursday. We will have an in service day on friday the 25th, so me and my family here will make a short one-day ski trip here in Wisconsin. It will be exciting, because I have never downhill skied before!

We will continue with biking, our winter activity also in January, so stay tuned for more pictures and videos from Rays indoor mountain bike park in Milwaukee. I have been slowly advancing in the fine art of balancing in tight spots with a bike, and slowly working my way over more and more obstacles preparing for the mountain biking season in the spring and summer.

My forensics season will start on the 26th of this month with our first meet in Appleton. I am very excited about it, mainly because of the language, but also about how my category is conducted. I am competing in the category called “Extemporaneous speaking” which works out in the following way: I get a topic at the competition place, 30 minutes before I am schedueled to have my speech. My speach should be about 7 minutes long, and it must be based on a question that has been drawn. I am not permited to use the internet when preparing my speech, so right now I am gathering articles about current events from every possible place about a lot of different topics.

here are some pictures and a couple of videos from my recent activities:

Dogsledding with the family (copyright M/C Holcomb, USA, 2013)

Biking at Rays with the family (copyright M/C Holcomb, USA, 2012)

(copyright J. Holcomb, USA, 2012)

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Me at Rays (copyright J. Holcomb, USA, 2012)

snow and Christmas

Greetings from a white Wisconsin! Yesterday, we got about 2,5 inches (7 cm) of measurable snow. It snowed all day, and it settled pretty well on lawns and other non-trafficed areas. Although we got a notable amount of snow, it is likely for it to melt before the end of the week ūüė¶ But hopefully we’ll get some more this winter.

This past weekend was filled with activities. Friday was more chilling and doing homework. On saturday, we cleaned the house and started to prepare it for winter. Later that day we went and watched when Shane and his basketball team the Riverview Hawks played in the LHS invitational basketball tourney in Sheboygan. They played in the quarter finals on Saturday and in the semi-finals and the championship game on Sunday. The Hawks ended up taking second place in the tourney, after a tight game after CCA Sheboygan.

On Saturday¬†evening, me, Shane and Jon went to Rays in Milwaukee.¬†We rode our bikes for about 4 hours, doing jumps and other cool stuff. Feels like I’m advancing quite well in the indoor biking, and maybe someday I’ll be able to do some of the bigger jumps. It is a good way to practice and prepare for the biking season next spring.

Today I will go and do some (Christmas) shopping in Sheboygan, and hopefully get a care package fixed together and sent back home!

I wish all of you a great Christmas, and to you in Europe, I wish a great St. Lucia day on Thursday!

A few recent photos

Here are a few photos from life in Wisconsin in recent weeks…Hope you enjoy! As a warning though, a couple of the pictures might be too much for someone who doesn’t want to see perhaps deer in an after-life state ūüôā

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Carting in West Bend

Soo today I went down to West Bend with Shane and Connie. Jon and Maja are in Michigan for a big bike race, and they’ll be coming home later tonight. But back to our carting. First, I drove down to West Bend, which was very interesting, because nobody really knew where we were going. After a while, we managed to find the Go carting place just outside of the airport. We drove the go carts for a good 30 minutes, with a couple breaks in between. The we watched the Packer game for a while and had mini tacos, before hitting the road again. This time we did a good 3 and a half our drive on basically every single country road in Sheboygan County. We were looking for a couple houses, and did a lot of loops and driving on the same roads. I got to practice my y-turns, driving on a freeway, four-lane highway, 2-lane highway and did some driving in the Kettles and on a weird, but fun gravel back road ūüôā .

The driving was fun and I got to see some of the outskirts of town, and also learned a little more the map here, still confused about east-west-north-south, but luckily I’ve got my awesome Suunto Ambit, with a good compass in it ūüėČ . Driving around the town of Lyndon and Cascade brought also to my mind the¬†tragic car accident from Tuesday, where Jordan Wimmler past away. Never got a chance to learn to know him, but he sounded like a good guy! Rest in peace Jordan, and sending thoughts to your family and friends.

On Friday, we went up north to West de Pere, just south of Green Bay, for some top class football. Our team, the Panthers, played against the number one seeded West de Pere Phantoms. The first half was still looking good for our team, but the second half was rough. We lost 25-7, but I would’ve never imagined that we would have got to the third round of the playoffs. You guys rock, and you know it. Thanks for introducing this sport to me in the best way possible, I will really miss it, all the games and the feeling and spirit in the crowd, it was magical!

For now, this is it. I am looking forward to my first thanksgiving in the states, even though it is a family tradition back home. It will for sure be different, and really cool. All the shops here are already in Christmas mood, and some radio stations already play Christmas music, way too early for me! It’s still 50 days to Christmas, so we’ll see what it will be closer to that time. I promise to be more active with my blog from now on. First quarter grades are here next week, and the second quarter will start soon. Looking forward to that!

I was introduced to this video earlier this week:¬† don’t really get it, but it’s awesome!

Busy weekend —-> lots of fun

The last weekend was very busy for me. Got a lot of mileage behind the wheel, and over 12 miles on my bike, off road.

The Plymouth panthers varsity football team had their last home game last Friday  The game was against Kewaskum, and it ended in a crushing victory 42-7 for us! The high school had an after game party at the generations center here in Plymouth, which was a lot of fun. We had an evening filled with good music, shooting pool, playing the Wii, and a chance to meet new people (at least for me) and learn to know them. Pictures from that evening can be found from my facebook pictures.

On¬†Saturday¬† We went out for a bike ride in Sheboygan, at noon. it was about 45 degrees F, and really windy. It got warmer once we started our lap in the woods, when the wind toned down, and the¬†motion¬†warmed up the body. The track we rode both Saturday and Sunday is our home course of the Wisconsin off road Series, and the race there will be held on the 14th of October, so this Sunday. Looking forward to opening my “racing career” in MTB then!

After our bike ride, we went down south to Milwaukee, to visit my host dad Jon. He works at a fire department outside of Milwaukee, and it was nice to see the equipment and the rescue vehicles a little closer. The ambulances here are really modern compared to the ones in Finland. We visited Rays MTB park near the fire station  and it was really cool. Parts of it looks like it is really hard, but other areas built for amateurs look a little easier. We went to Old Navy for some shopping before that, and I got a new pair of jeans.

The bike ride on Sunday was much smoother than on Saturday, with more practice on the harder obstacles. I got a total of about 6 miles doing one lap, but some extra runs in parts that I needed some more practice in. My bike rides can be found on movescount: http://www.movescount.com/members/mrnici123

Later towards the evening I went out for a drive with my host mom in the Plymouth city area, to get some more practice in in-town driving. I will have my first behind the wheel lesson on Tuesday this week, and that will be exciting!

These are my activities in America so far, stay tuned for more stuff!

homecoming and biking

This week is homecoming week at school, which basically means that the entire town is going crazy! We have had Tug-o-war everyday during home room period, and the senior team won, even against the teachers :). Later today will be the homecoming parade through downtown Plymouth, and after that the homecoming game against Campbellsport.

Earlier this week, my career in mountain biking¬†began at the Evergreen parks in Sheboygan. We took it quite easy,¬†so the ride¬†wasn’t pure torture. Some of the obstacles were hard for a first-timer, but since I didn’t break any bones, I think I did good. I rode my hostdads bike, a 27-gear mountain bike. I had problems with shifting gears, since the most complicated bike I’ve ever had has only 7 gears.

We will be going up to Bear Paw in White Lake, northern¬†Wisconsin tomorrow for the 11th race in the Wisconsin off-road series. I’ll be doing some biking there also, and rumour has it that I’ll be racing on sunday… nobody can verify that rumour yet, though. I enjoy riding off-road, even though I¬† don’t know most of the techniques for getting over the obstacles and climbs.

There will be photos and video from my MTB adventures later, since I don’t have them on my school netbook.