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December 26th, 2010 | Author:

In the beginning (2005)

In 2005, quite by accident, a little creature was discovered by a nine-year-old boy named Jason O’Neill.  The small, round creature was colorful and very playful. It loved to sit on top of Jason’s pencil as he did his homework and wrap its black, fuzzy body around the pencil. Before long, Jason found more and more of these cute creatures in all different colors. He appropriately called them Pencil Bugs.

Over the next five years, Jason shared his Pencil Bugs with people all over the world. He found thousands and thousands of them. It seemed like there was an endless quantity. However, as time went on, Jason noticed their numbers started to decline and there were fewer and fewer Pencil Bugs.  No matter what he tried, Jason could not get them to reproduce like he used to. He worried that they might become extinct.

The numbers dwindled down to a few hundred. Jason tried everything he could do to keep them alive but it was no use. Little by little, it was clear. Pencil Bugs were in danger. In December 2010, Jason made one last attempt to preserve their species for the future. He put several dozen of them in protective captivity.

No one really knows what will become of the few remaining Pencil Bugs or if they will produce more in the future but Jason is happy that his cute, little creatures found their way into the hearts and homes of so many people around the world for as long as they did.

Signing books (2010)

Although the actual Pencil Bugs may not be in existence anymore, Jason continues to share his story with kids and adults alike through his book, interviews, speaking engagements, and charity work.

If you were one of the lucky ones to have owned a Pencil Bug, congratulations! If you really want to get some before they are completely extinct, place your adoption order now at www.pencilbugs.com.

October 31st, 2010 | Author:

If you like editing songs or sounds, try this free program called Audacity. I originally found this program when looking for a way to “chipmunk” a song. (To make it sound like the Alvin and the Chipmunks.) I also found it very useful for bleeping out bad words in a song. After I bleeped out the bad words from a rap song and then just for fun, chipmunked it, Mom said that sounded much improved. She could actually tolerate it – well, at least for maybe a minute.

Here is the link to download it completely for free. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Now that you have the program, follow these simple instructions to “chipmunk” and bleep words out. Obviously, the program also does a lot of other special effects so have fun and experiment.

Open the Audacity program.

Click File>Open to insert your song.

For “Chipmunking”: (Very easy)

  1. Click Effect>Change Pitch>Drag bottom scroll bar until the Percentage Change box says about 50. Press OK.
  2. Now the song should be in a high, squeaky voice (aka Chipmunks). You can play around with the percentages.

For bleeping out bad words: (This is a little more involved.)

  1. You’ll need to zoom in so you it’s more detailed. Click View>Zoom In repeatedly until you see the time bar go in .5 increments. You can also use the Zoom tool instead which looks like a magnifying glass with a + sign.
  2. Play the song until you hear where the bad words are. Make note of the exact tick mark on the time bar.
  3. Stop the song using the square stop button. Not the pause button! The vertical bar will not show at the stopped point.
  4. Highlight the portion of the song that has the word in it. To do this, click the “Selection Tool” which looks like a text cursor I. It is located at the top to the right of the Pause, Play, Stop, Etc.
  5. Once you click on the selection tool button, click your mouse in the song bar at the point where the word is. Try not to cut out the other words.
  6. Drag your mouse to the right slightly which will make a dark grey bar. You can check the clip you selected by hitting the play button. It will then just play that selected portion. If you need to adjust to shorten or lengthen the clip, put your mouse in the grey area at either the left or right edge. A pointer finger will appear. Then just drag to lengthen or shorten the grey area.
  7. FOR THE REST OF THE STEPS, MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CLICK IN THE GREY AREA WITH THE SELECTION TOOL . Otherwise, you will have to repeat some steps, undo, or restart.
  8. Once you highlight the part you want to bleep out, select Effect>Change Tempo> Drag the bar until the Percent Change box is between 110-120.
  9. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened.)
  10. Select >Effect>Change Speed> Drag the bar to about 120-130
  11. Hit OK (The selected clip should be shortened again.)
  12. Select the “Envelope Tool” which is located directly to the right of the “Selection Tool”.  This changes the volume of the selected parts. The section should still be highlighted.
  13. Click the top blue bar above the lighter soundwave section right before your selected clip and drag all the way to the top.
  14. Before you do Step #15, if the selected clip is too narrow to see, zoom in so it’s about a half-inch wide. This will make it easier to work with.
  15. Put your envelope tool cursor in the middle of the dark grey selected clip area right below the blue bar and click. The top blue bar should be lowered as a result. If the lighter soundwave area goes up, you’ve done it wrong so click Edit>Undo.
  16. Click after the dark grey selected clip area on the top blue bar and drag all the way to the top again. The line should make a V shape.
  17. In the top blue line, drag the lower part of the V all the way to the center of the sound wave until a double blue line appears in the middle.
  18. Notice how the blue double bar space is wider than the dark grey area time bar above. These need to match up. Put your mouse over the right or left white dot in the top blue bar and drag it to match the dark grey area/box in the time bar. Do the same for the other side. You are kind of eyeballing it to match. Be careful not to drag your mouse downward. If you do, you’ll have to move the blue bar back up to the top.
  19. Congratulations you have successfully bleeped out a bad word.
  20. To test how it sounds, press the purple skip-to-start button. |<<
  21. Press Play. If you hear that the bleeped word is not completely gone or you need to make revisions, it’s easier just to start over than to try and modify your settings from here.
  22. Now that you’ve got the hang of this, repeat Steps #2-19 for each word you want to bleep out.
  23. Don’t close the program until you save the project for future editing. Note: This will only save it as a .aup file.
  24. To save the edited song as an mp3, follow the next steps.

To export as an mp3:

  1. To save the music as an mp3 you have to export it from Audacity. To do this, you must download an encoder to save as an mp3 at http://lame.buanzo.com.ar/
  2. Follow the instructions when you are there! It is not a separate program but it is needed to run a function on Audacity.
  3. Once you have downloaded the encoder,  follow these instructions for export.
  4. Click File>Export
  5. The rest is self explanatory.

Troubleshooting:

If the Effects or any other options are grayed out or are not working remember to always STOP the song not pause it. To change anything it has to be done while it is stopped.

Of course, if you want to spend your money on a more involved program, go for it. But I like finding free programs and Audacity is good for the average person who just wants to play around with songs for fun.

April 23rd, 2010 | Author:

If you saw a person dressed up like a clown at a business event, wouldn’t it make you look twice?  That’s what everyone seemed to do at this event I attended. For three days, this woman dressed up in very colorful outfits, complete with matching wigs, crazy makeup, and interesting shoes.  At first people wondered what was up and if I hadn’t talked with her myself, I would probably still be wondering.  But I’m glad I met her (and I’m sorry I can’t remember her name now but the story is still the same).

When we started talking with her, she took off a silicone bracelet that had the words “I GET TO” embossed on it. After talking with her awhile, we found out that her daughter had been really sick for a long time and was in and out of hospitals. Apparently when the daughter did attend school, they used to have crazy dress-up day and she was sad that she would miss it while she was in the hospital. So her mom decided to take crazy dress-up day to her in the hospital every week. After a long illness, the girl died. The mom said she wanted to keep her daughter’s memory alive so she did crazy dress-up day one day a week.  It didn’t matter where she was or what she had to do, she still dressed up silly.  Then we asked what the bracelet saying meant.  “I get to” meant she had her daughter with her for as long as she did but when it came time for her to go, the mom was able to let her go up.

She let me keep her bracelet and my whole family uses it.  If I start to complain about little stupid things, my mom will hand me the bracelet. Believe it or not, wearing it even if just for a little while does make me think about all the things I should be thankful for and the fact that I GET TO for lots of things.  After I have a reality check, I’ll put it back on my dresser. Sometimes I’ll see Mom wearing it and I know it’s usually because she’s glad that she has me, even though I make her crazy sometimes. (After all, I’m a normal teenager.)  Dad would wear it but it doesn’t fit on his wrist so he just has to remember to think I GET TO when he feels bummed about something.

The reason I shared this story with you is because there are so many times when everyone complains about little stupid things. It’s easy to do, especially for kids because no matter how good of life we have, it seems we can always find something to gripe about. Wearing the I GET TO bracelet for awhile makes a big difference.

Sometimes we tell each other as many examples as we can think of, like:

I GET TO do homework because kids in some countries don’t even get to go to school.

I GET TO pick weeds in the yard because some people are homeless and don’t even have a house.

I GET TO argue with my son (that would be for Mom) because he is a healthy, happy teenager.

I GET TO travel and be away from my family (this would be for Dad) because I have a good job which provides for my family at a time when many people are unemployed.

Well, you get the point.  No matter what’s happening in your life, you can always find something to be thankful for.  So even if you don’t have an I GET TO bracelet, find some other object and write those words on it. Put it in a place that you see every day and when you start to think that your situation stinks, remind yourself that you get to.

April 01st, 2010 | Author:


When the founder of Dekoposh invited me to speak at a charity concert to support Champions Against Bullying, I was pretty excited. Then I found out it was in Hollywood and since I have never been there, I had no idea what to expect.


The big day was March 25.  I got out of school at lunch just to make sure we had time to get to Hollywood with freeway traffic.  We got there early and pulled into this deep underground parking structure. The entrance/toll booths looked like Disneyland’s Autopia ride with curbs between the lanes which winded down through the structure.  It was pretty cool. After driving down to the basement level 4, we found a parking spot and made our way back up to the surface over escalators, up stairs, and in elevators.  The parking was an adventure in itself.

If you’re wondering by now where all this took place, it was at Hollywood & Highland where there is a humongous mall over the parking structure which is right where the El Capitan Theatre, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and the famous stars on the sidewalk are.  Since we had time, we walked down the street a ways, pretty much people watching.  And believe me, there were some interesting people to watch.  It was hard to miss about a dozen or so people dressed up in costumes from movies and TV shows.  It didn’t take too long to figure out their gimmick.  They would walk up to you and ask if you wanted to take your picture with them but most didn’t tell you ahead of time that they expected a tip in return.  (Click for Hollywood characters slide show)

When you add in all of the characters, tourists, street musicians, and cars, Hollywood is not at all like our lonely city of Temecula. Hollywood is loud, busy, and interesting.

The concert was held at a nightclub called Level 3 which just happened to be on level 3 of the mall.  After we checked in and got our wristbands, we had time to get some dinner at California Pizza Kitchen where we met up with Drew De Leon and her dad.  Drew is another biz kid we met through Twitter and is the founder of Aktive Wrap.

After dinner, we headed over to Level 3.  Obviously, it was my first time in a nightclub so I didn’t know what to expect. Two big bouncers were standing at the door and there were a lot of tweens, teens, and older people inside.  Loud background music was already playing and everyone was just walking around waiting for it to start.

Some of the performers throughout the night were Celeste KelloggAshlee KeatingDaechelle, and Austin Anderson. My dad bought 10 raffle tickets and amazingly we won about five times, including a Custom Snuggie, t-shirts, notebooks, and a pair of autographed jeans worn by Austin Anderson which I thought was really funny.  Of course, they’re not my size but I wasn’t planning on wearing them anyway. 🙂

Me on stage

After a few of the singers performed, they invited the speakers on stage to talk about their businesses, charity work, and their thoughts or experiences on bullying.  The audience was still in concert mode so I’m not sure how many were really listening as people spoke.  I must have talked loud enough to be heard though because the founder of Champions Against Bullying came up to me afterward and complimented me on my talk and also invited me to work with their organization and speak at future events.  That was pretty cool.

I was competing in a Math Olympics the next day so we had to leave before it was over since we’re about 2 hours away from Hollywood.  Overall, it was a very interesting experience – something I don’t get to see or do that often.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you’ll know when I post the video of my talk on there. You can also watch other videos I have on there about Pencil Bugs and what I do to support Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA.

March 22nd, 2010 | Author:


Do you think J.K. Rowling writes her stories and no one else edits or proofs them before they’re published?  I don’t think so.  So why do people think they should write blogs or school reports or anything else for that matter without having at least one other person proof their work?

Whether you’re blogging for your business or just for fun, at least show the world that you know how to spell correctly and use proper grammar.

I’m lucky that I have my mom to proofread and edit my writing.  Even with school papers, she looks them over because most teachers don’t take time to even check for spelling or grammar.  And if kids turn in assignments they think are correct and no one ever shows them how to improve, what good was the assignment in the first place?  Mom also reads every blog, letter, email, and basically all other business things that I write.   At 14, I still have a lot to learn but at least I can present my business in the most professional way possible.

So maybe your mom or dad isn’t the best at writing, editing or even proofreading.  Find someone that is and ask them to at least proof for spelling and grammar errors BEFORE you post your mistakes for the world to see.  This doesn’t apply just to kids either. I have read many things online that are the most basic mistakes and it doesn’t make the person look too good.

If you absolutely can’t find anyone to help out, at least go back and read it yourself.  It’s easy to skip over your mistakes because you know what you already wrote and what you meant to say but reading it out loud, very . . .  slowly, word . . .  for . . .  word, will help you find your mistakes.

One of the most common mistakes people make, and I see it on Twitter all the time, is the difference between YOUR and YOU’RE.  Those are two totally different words and meanings.  If there is an apostrophe, it is actually two words combined.

Your the best is WRONG.

You’re the best is CORRECT because it actually means You are.

People form opinions and first impressions for a lot of different reasons.  If avoiding simple spelling and grammar mistakes when you write can make a better impression, wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to improve?

Thanks Mom. 🙂