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Sunday, March 7, 2010

most epic times :)

Facebook updates give a summary of the week:

March 1: Bethany is 'drilling holes in the robot to make sure it's not overweight'....i.e., shaving about 40 seconds off of the Chairman's Award video. Good times.

March 2:And now we hit "Render" and let 'er chug away all night! :) Ah the life of the video-editor.....

March 3:Tomorrow: Portland!! Three days of peace, love and robotics! :P [and hard work and really late nights]

March 4:Bethany is in a hotel room in Portland

March 5:YES YES YES WHOOO WHOO WHOO!!! This may rank as the best day of my life. No matter how we do tomorrow, today was WIN all the way.

March 6, 6:23 AM: Four hours of sleep, I'm twitching slightly. Add caffeine: today is going to be awesome.

March 6, 10 PM: Best weekend EVER!!!!! :) I am hoarse from screaming, I got four hours of sleep last night, didn't eat for 24 hours, and have run up and down thousands of stairs. Our team got into the finals which was really all I wanted. And we got the Xerox Creativity Award, for the third time...this is the first time any of our team members have gotten an award. GOOD TIMES.




On Saturday I wrote the following during a hiatus in the goings-on: (caffeine, adrenaline and lack of sleep will excuse all questions)

Writing this on Saturday, before the finals at the Autodesk Oregon regional. I want to capture the excitement right now, because regardless of how we do in the finals, we have had an EPIC season.

Thursday, after an early morning drive to Portland, we competed in the practice matches. Thursday's competition is really just practice and I have never seen such a slow start to the weekend; it was rare that we had a full 6-robot field, there were low scores and stalled robots. We did only so-so. I got a handle on the scouting scene: Wednesday night I had been up til midnight packing and getting scouting materials ready to go. Armed with laptop, spreadsheets and clipboards, I and my team advanced to the stands.....spent pretty much the whole day there, watching matches and taking notes. I kept commenting on the lack-lustre performance of most of the robots to my scouting buddy (new to the team) Hannah, and explaining the energy would be exponentially higher Friday.

Whoever not on the field was in the stands scouting (or being told to by me, hehe). We made friends with a few people from other teams: I do so appreciate the camaraderie and sportsmanship at robotics: everybody cheers for everybody, there is good-will and helpfulness all over, chiefly because you know that in one match you will be playing against a team you'll be buddied up with two matches later. Gracious Professionalism is the watchword of the day.

half hour later: Holy cow we just one our first match!!!! WOOT

hour later: we won once and lost once, and are waiting for our next tie breaker. one of the teams has called a timeout, and there is a huge mosh pit going on....YYY EMM CEE AYY! woot! :)
Gotta love the nerds and geeks dancing and rocking out!

Techno, rock, dance. ADRENALINE. 


Anyways, Thursday after the matches we had to stick around for a few hours until the pits closed, working on the robot. All our engineer-types were doing that,whilst our scouts curled up in the corner of the 10'x10' pit and tried to catch forty winks (trenchcoats make marvelous pillows).

After getting back to the hotel we played the DVD that I had made for Chairman's Award. it was much approved, but the playback volume on my laptop was far too quiet.....this involved a lot of panicked talk of speakers, and I took a look at the rendered .avi file and raised the volume. The problem was solved finally by swtching to a different media player.....the standard Mac dvd player was not giving enough volume....VLC is far superior.....VLC is the best media player EVER....it's just about the only thing that will play AVCHD files (which was the format our new camera recorded in, to my initial alarm.)

Got into bed that night, late: "This is the best part of the whole day!" as I lay there groaning for a minute. 

Friday we did even better. Won most of our matches. During autonomous we were just about the only team to be able to score. Other tems were coming around groveling to us, although I only heard this by word of mouth because I spent the entire day in the stands, inputing data and team scores into the laptop. There was a lot of what we could call light banter around us. "I do not want to play patty-cake with the cement!"

At the end of the day we ranked about number 18 out of 61 teams....not bad at all. At the end of the day were the first round of awards: creativity in design, team spirit, etc. We were not expecting to get anything....mass hysteria when Team 956 was announced as the winner of the Xerox Creativity in Design Award. (Ironic, don;t you think, considering that a xerox used be a term for a photocopy?)

Last night we came out of there absolutely insane (or at least I was....maybe the coffee had something to do with it...) Mass euphoria pretty much.... Went to dinner (around 8 pm)


The first year I was marginally involved in robotics was 2006. My dad, as mentor, went along when our team went to the Sacramento regional...in fact the whole family. There was one interesting incident on the way....we were supposed to pack the control board (which is really, really important). We got about an hour on the road when "OH DEAR where is the control board?" We went back for it, very very glad we hadn't gotten to, say, Corning (California folks know Corning....we know and loathe it...hehe)
Our team did extremely well...placed 4th in fact (as a side note, another Oregon team took first place which made us happy). I sort of got hooked on robotics that year.....although the next year I wasn't involved. We won the Xerox Creativity Award that year....this year was the first time since then that we've won any awards.


In fact this feels exactly like 2006....from the really strong team, to the award, to the festive goings-on at dinner last night. Our team captain was building with sugar packets, and then there was what one of our mentors termed an "ice-breaker' when foresaid mentor managed to spill a lemonade over the table, and mostly over myself. the subsequent mopping-up process involved the whole team and loads of paper towels, and ice cubes slithering around under the table.

We got back to the hotel about 9, and met another team in the lobby and talked with them for a while, and firmed up potential alliance partners for the finals. Got into our team meeting around 10:30. By that time I was more or less exhausted and not inclined to view favorably the digressions....was nevertheless amused when one of our mentors did an impression our robot's jerky steering....then one of the other team members said, "I though that was the autonomous!" and we dissolved into laughter. I think possibly the quote of the evening was one of our Korean echange students, when we were discussing the intricacies of the scoring of the matches. As we argued over whether it was better to completely cream one's opponent or have a close game: "I think robotics is weird!"

The team cleared out around 11:30 and Sarah (our team captain and lead driver) and I holed up for some epic strategizing. I kept busy with the computer, entering scores, updating data, summarizing the stats on each team. Got done with that around 1 AM....the other two girls in our room had dozed off long ago. Despite exhaustion I was unable to get to sleep...around 2 I heard what sounded like a construction zone outside our window although it was probably just a truck backing up...good times.
I then went on to wake up at 6 AM.....do the math...I got less than 4 hours of sleep. Went staright to work on the spreadsheets again...coffee.....no breakfast....got to the competition early and started promoting our team. Then spent the morning in the stands.....ooogh...no food...I had too much adrenaline and not enough sleep combined to steal my appetite. At noon came the most stressful part of the the whole competition (for me)....giving Sarah the list of the teams we wanted as alliance partners in the finals.

We wound up not being able to choose teams, but one of the higher ranked teams selected us and we played in the semi-finals after lunch. Just the fact that we were able to play in finals was epic. We got eliminated after a few rounds but I am currently quite relaxed, don't have to worry about whether we are going to win or lose our next match.


Later still: Well that was epic! The final (or so we thought) round had a huge score on one side, and very low for the other alliance....it then developed that the winning team had had a penalty and was disqualified from that match.....hence a rematch.

Sunday night update: A local team wound up being on the winning alliance which is happy-making. We packed up after awards, tear-down in the pit, final farewells and then twas off. My dad drove Hannah and me home...he was dealing with some paperwork...got to the car and the battery was dead. We weren't parked close to the competition, no robotics people in sight. Amazingly we immediately found a helpful passerby to jump-start the car and we got off around 6:45 that night. Stopped at a health food store for refreshment and pursued our merry way home, amidst reminiscences over our epic 2010 robotics season.


Really I think this has been the most epic few days EVER for one reason and another. Now I am home, not much more excitement from here on out....well of course next weekend IS the DaVinci Film Festival, where my film Road to Freedom is being shown and judged, so who knows :)







3 comments:

Tragedy101 said...

Caffeine, the elixir of life and bane of my existance!

Good to hear you had epic time and did well, as well.

Just hearing about all those stairs makes me feel exhausted.

I keep wondering, how you fill so much into a day? I seem to only fit in work, and this.

Einar said...

Wow! That sounds like sooo much fun, a little crazy though.

I second Tragedy's remark, have you managed to warp time or somthin like that?

Bethany said...

Hmmm...are you two related? :P :P

yah, life has been epic and there was more epic news this morning :D

Oh yes, the stairs were horrendous....for some reason our team parked ourselves near the very top of the stadium....really really steep stairs.....so much fun when you're off-balance from lack of sleep.....I raced up and down them several times in quick succession of Saturday, giving our team captain advice...

Yes I think I do warp time a little. :D

Wait eagerly for new installments!! :)