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Saturday, May 29, 2010

robotics fun times

MOAR epic times!  
The good times started rolling Thursday evening when I received a welcome bit of communication from a dear friend  [ :D  ]   This resulted in the effusion of the last post, teehee.  
I was going to ‘go to bed early’ Thursday night, so as to be reasonably sleeped up for Friday morning’s math test.  This didn’t work out so well. In fact it didn’t happen much at all. I was ENTHUSED.  I was working on insane amounts of extra credit for math class....basically writing out notes from the entire the time I got to the last page, I was working on scratch paper from was a print-out of the kit of parts checklist. I felt a certain poetic justice. Actually poetic justice has been a motif of the entire past few weeks. Anyways, what could be more appropriate than doing math work on robotics papers? I commented to that effect near the bottom of the page....I think my teacher will understand all too well ;)   I was ALSO listening to The Final Countdown [Europe] and this resulted in a lot of enthusiasm. The Final Countdown is played at robotics competitions...a LOT....

Let us say that I did not get a lot of sleep.
Nevertheless I set my alarm to go off at 6 AM next morning...had to be at school by 7:30-ish to take the test early, because I’d be leaving for a robotics gig at the time my class ordinarily starts. 
The epic day started off when my alarm failed to wake me at 6. A subconscious warning of impending Doom woke me in 20, however. All this getting-up-early business was to allow me to type up and print out a mentor sign-up sheet for the robotics gig...we thought it would be nice to have a sign-up sheet for any victims who might like to support our team, or be a mentor, or that sort of thing. There were also business cards in the offing, which look, I may say, very professional. Yes, well all this goings-on to get the mentor sign-up sheet printed out and I was STILL working on that dratted thing up to the last minute before we left [late]. I was busy having a good breakfast and chatting with a buddy, I had no TIME for such unimportant matters as printing that thing off! I got it made up in my text editing program [Open Office] and then transfered it to the desktop computer via a flashdrive, to print [we have two printers in the house, but only one works at any given time, and right now the working one HAPPENS to be the printer which does not recognize Eddie [laptop]. Eddie sees the printer but the printer thinks if it can’t see, it can’t be seen..... 

So yes. Get the computer fired up, go to print, and the only paper around is BLUE. I race out to the front of the house to get more paper: ‘Oh! Cardstock, that would be nice!’  and take it to the printer. I then had to feed the paper in, in attempts to snooker the printer [‘Out of paper!’]  Printer promptly has a hissy fit: ‘Paper jam. Please remove paper, press Enter, and bug off’. 
Pull the paper out, back to the paper stash to get regular paper and finally print successfully, and race out of the house in the nick of time. 

Math test went well. Promptly at 9, I was down at the robotics lab to catch a ride, as planned, with the CHS robotics team, over to the competition [on Oregon State U campus, cross-town.] They didn’t show. I was worried that maybe I’d missed them, and they’d be fretting over where I was...nipped up to the main entrance, and back down to the lab a few times. I was destitute: no phone, and no laptop with important phone numbers. The main school office proved very helpful however and I was able to get in touch with the important people, and got ride as promised with team.  

Our team, 956, showed up around 11, owing to mandatory school assembly. Opening ceremonies and then we all went off to lunch as provided by the OSU Robotics Club. We all frolicked round in the parking lot, waiting in line for Subway....lots and lots of Subway...

The two teams I have worked with, 956 [‘my’ team] and 997 [team at high school where I take classes] have gotten pretty friendly with each other. This is mostly because of none other than ME. Obviously my chief selling point to convince 997 to take me to Nationals with them was the fact that I’ve been on the Santiam robotics team for years. There was a lot of communication between my dad [teacher/robotics mentor at Santiam 956] and the 997 mentors, also because all 6 of the local robotics teams have mentors on FIRST Force, a fundraising group. 
Both our teams are fairly small and losing a lot of seniors. There has even been talk of our teams combining next year, though of course I hope Santiam can get enough recruits to continue on next year. 
It is really cool to see the sense of community in FIRST. Yesterday our two teams stood around talking, in a big circle...’one big happy family’ as someone put it. 

After lunch we moved on to tours of the OSU engineering buildings. I am becoming very enthused. OSU is one of the top colleges for engineering/technology around. Great school for robotics folks. 
OSU has a lovely campus. Old-growth trees....HUGE trees...lots of them. Old brick and stone buildings...well my town is beautiful in general.  And inside the buildings [I’d never been inside before yesterday] is just as impressive. Then there is the computer lab for students, equipped with Windows, Linux and Macs for engineering students, and Macs for everyone else because of a sponsorship fluke. Big beautiful Mac desktop computers...very new...

The robotics club is a huge part also. One of the students who headed up the event yesterday [a MAMMOTH undertaking] is also on the Mars Rover project, which took first place in the country a few years ago. The Mars Rover project is just that, designing robots to operate on Mars. Cool stuff.  

Aforementioned student is very busy convincing me that I want to take his place in a few years, carry on the torch so to speak. This is HIGHLY convincing, when I hear tales of insane 36-hour days preparing for yesterday’s event....there is just SOMETHING about robotics that ensures that no-one involved gets any sleep. 

But we know that sleep is for the weak  >:D

The competition went VERY well also. Only 8 teams showed for the FRC competition, but there were a lot of FIRST Tech Challenge teams too, it was a busy day. I was behind the camera most of the day and got the usual few hours of assorted robotic footage. Our matches went really well. As usual I vibrated between my two teams, filming one, helping carry stuff in from the car for the other, back and forth, hehe. Coincidentally our teams were assigned spaces in the pit right next to each was great...I walked in with 997, dumped my stuff in 956’s spot, and to and fro, charging batteries and dealing in power strips and totes. The business cards materialized as promised, in 956’s tool chest, and looked very snazzy indeed. 

Oh! At the event last week in The Dalles we had forgotten to bring our beloved sawed-off allen wrench, which was required for getting to inaccessibly little screws. The janitor offered use of some sort of dad demurred, afraid of injuring it...janitor said there wasn’t much you could do to hurt the shears :P
Well dad and the other student who was with us took hold, one on the shears, the other holding the allen wrench [which should NOT be cuttable]. I mentioned something about ‘SAFETY GLASSES would be a good idea! That thing is going to flip off!’ but they paid no heed [VERY bad example btw, don’t try it at home].  Well Dad bore down on the shears.....and BING. OFF pops the offending part of the allen wrench. It flew twenty feet through the air and hit the wall [I was watching it]. 

Ah where was I. Competition. It was a very cool event. These were some of the top teams in Oregon....regional winning team...regional second-place team..etc. 956 and 997 both did really well. 997 threw a tread [tank drive] halfway through, but it was rather epic....they sent someone back to school for a spare, didn’t even miss a match. 

At the end of qualifying rounds WE, 956 were ranked #2, and 847 was ranked #1  [exactly what our mentor had predicted, come to think of it..]  Team 847 PHRED [Philomath High Robotics Education Department] is rather widely beloved. They have an insane program. Recruit a huge team, but are really helpful to everyone, volunteered to help 997 afford to get to nationals, organize fundraising stuffs, and so on. 847 and their alliance took second place at Regionals in Portland. 

997, on the other hand, was ranked third. 956 was for the first time in the position of choosing our alliance partners. Exciting. A good place to be :)    We, 997, and 847 wound up in a big huddle. We all wanted to be on the same alliance [which would have been absolutely UNBEATABLE] but the way the alliance selection works, that wasn’t possibly. We discussed the ramifications of every choice. 847 wound up choosing another strong team [not local], then we of course picked 997, then we divvied up the remaining two best teams. We went into the finals fairly evenly matched, but figuring 847 would take it. 
We played 3 matches in the finals. First match we were absolutely creamed. One of our alliance partners got flipped over, then 997 discovered that those treads break in pairs. They were out for half the match. 956 was doing well but we obviously couldn’t win against 3.  We called a time-out [6 minutes] to fix the tread. I got some epic footage of members of several teams gathered round 997’s robot, putting a new tread on and frantically putting in screws. 

Worked right up to the time limit. Went back out in the nick of time. We knew this could be the deciding match: if 847 won again, they would win the competition...if we won, we played another match. 956’s mentor got finished getting our robot set up and the announcer said, ‘Team 956 says we’re going to play three matches today.’  Twas epic times. The Final Countdown was, as usual at finals, playing to get us enthused...we were enthused all right. WE WON THE MATCH. 

Went on and played the third match....they trotted out The Final Countdown again....we won. At the end the other alliance only had one robot working which I felt bad about...847 lost communication and one of the other teams got flipped....but we were winning before, while they still had three strong teams active. 

It was a good moment. It was somewhat of a come-from-behind victory, because 847 chose a team that [at least they thought] was better than either 997 or 956. Then we came and took them down. 997 and 956 allied at last.....the Spartans and the Eagles....
[cue epic music] 

Of course it was all the more awesome because 956 was doing the picking this time :)  It gave us another chance to show how well we could do. We could easily have done that well at regionals....the important thing is to feel that you have had your fair chance. We did. We took home a trophy to prove it.   :D 

I came out of there massively enthused, almost as much as Friday [twelve weeks ago in fact....] at regionals, when we’d just played really well all day and unexpectedly got the Xerox Creativity in Design award.   That was easily one of the best days of my life.   After three years in robotics, you don’t really care about anything except giving it your all. Our team was near the top of the stadium, where people don’t usually stand to clap during awards, but I was so enthused I was bounding up out of my seat to clap for each team when they were awarded. 
Then the near-shock when the announcer read out the description of award...then as usual, said a few words about the winning team...this is traditionally a hint about which team it is...we never guessed....then !!!!956!!!!  
and we were running down the dozens and dozens of stairs to go down to the field to receive the get down near the bottom, all the teams are standing, dozens of people giving you high fives....down on the field where the volunteers are lined up to do the is indescribable, knowing that these incredibly awesome people are excited for YOUR team. 

[more on the epic humor of today in a later post, heeh]

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I hadn't been outside in a while....of course I went outside to deal with the critters, but there was always the feeling of fighting against the weather, which has been very very damp....this evening I had to run outside. It's almost June and the wild roses are blooming. The rain stopped for a while, too. 

Funny how everything can change in a minute. It's happened an awful lot in the last few weeks...few months....scratch that, it's been happening my whole life. 

Lately, there've been horrible things that just sprang on me....and good things. The last two have been good things. As hinted at by the title of this post. 

It's almost June. I think of where I was last June, and where I am now, and I wouldn't go back if I could. No regrets, because in this case there is nothing to regret. 

I could write a poem, except that I don't write poetry when I'm happy. 

I can only say: thank you. God has been good.  I have much to be grateful for. The past few months, I've happier than ever before. 

Treasure every moment. 

The roses are blooming. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer plans

I should be going to bed now...but blogging is more interesting  :P

With that, we segue into summer plans.

-learn C++  [for that purpose, I have a stout programming book residing on my desk, waiting to pounce]

-get a bit skilled in Autodesk Maya [CAD program]

-learn to drive...get license in September

-learn to ride a bike  >.<

-think about scouting programs for next year....who has time to write one in build season?

-write a novel, or at least part of one :D

-sleep outside at least once

-swim in the ocean [Orange County CA, here I come!]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

For Inspiration and Recognition of....FIRST.

I am back, and beginning to recover. The last few days have really beat me up, last night I felt like I'd been run over by a truck. It's been good though.

Friday we drove 3.5 hours northeast to The Dalles, little town that defies all attempts to be classified as an Oregon town...actually that whole area does. The Gorge, as it's known. The Columbia River runs through the Gorge, and the wind never stops. Ever.....hehe.

Anyways we got up there around 8:30 that night and established base at Wahtonka High School, wherre next day's goings-on would be held. They put us up in their gym. First though we unloaded the field construction stuff from a trailer that one of the teams [the Scalliwags, Team 1359] had packed up from the Valley. Constructing a robotics playing field is heavy work. There's a heavy roll of carpet around 40 feet long, and numerous bits of plywood, and big ramps and other field elements which require five or six muscular guys to move at all. Well anyway we unloaded the trailed and dumped everything in the lower gym, and unloaded our robots as well [ours can be carried without too much trouble by two gals, the only students from our team who were present].
Lights out [or lack thereof] came around 11. The gals [all 10 of us] were kipped down in the upper gym, while the lads inhabited the Lair known as the weight room. hehe.
I had of course opted for being 'tough' and not bringing a mattress-pad [little roll-up thin thing that tries to keep the floor from being so hard].  This did not go well. We had, in this order: Bethany, sleeping bag, and wood floor. With a pillow near the top end of Bethany. And trenchcoat over top, to keep out the lights which were most definitely not 'out'.

I did not sleep well. Woke at intervals....probably at least 6 times before the 6:15 AM rise-and-fail-to-shine. Next order of business was assembling the field...and getting our robot to work. Trouble with the router and frequency of the signal. A bit scary for me, because I realized that NEXT year I am going to have to learn all that stuff. What with the graduating-genius problem and all.

The competition went well. There were various other technology and engineering events set up at the school too. Turn-out from the public was not astounding, but there were a lot of kids that got a chance to drive-a-robot in the was splendid to see these students being pulled into FIRST at a young age. I was filming the whole time, from the upper level. Zoomed way down, occasionally, during a match....when our team had a guest driver....some hapless youngster from the audience, who is smiling as he pilots a 120 lb. robot....never knowing what he has gotten himself into. In three years he will be on a FRC team, spending late nights at the lab, or loaning out his closet so the team actually has a space to work on the robot in, or staying up all night writing essays.  

  And as I watched, I grinned...the smile that a few of my compatriots know and fear...known as 'Uh oh. Bethany has her evil face on.'  Another generation of young people hooked on the most world-changing drug on the market, FIRST Robotics.
   Fifteen years down the road, someone will explore deep space or get a little closer to a cure for cancer, and they will make a grant to FIRST, because [as they will tell my news organization in a closely-followed press conference], a program that Dean Kamen started in the wilds of New Hampshire inspired them. Gave them the tools and the motivation they needed. Do the math, change the world.

Wellwell. After that bit of inspiration....tear-down of the field after competition went well. Pretty fast. I left the camera on tripod and got some amusing footage of about ten people, including myself, rolling up the carpet. Good times. Then about a dozen people hefted the carpet and moved it out to the trailer. Lots of plywood moving and so on. I am tough enough to get injured and not mention it at the time, but proud enough of my toughness to swagger around LATER with pride. I didn't know the edges of plywood could cut up your wrists that bad...anyways. Drove back home and slept a lot of the way. By the time I was home [round 8:30] yesterday evening, I was sore all over. From yoga on Thursday...sleeping on the floor on Friday...and transporting/being bruised by heaving bits of equipment. Got into the shower....then bed....SNOZZZ. I was in bed by 10 and did not wake again until morning, nor did I get up until almost noon. It was epic.

Hm what else. Several of the many high schools in the area had prom last night and there are pics all over my friends' Facebook pages. I had a small epiphany: I didn't want to go. Sure, the gals are gorgeous in their dresses, sure their boyfriends look nice, sure they all had a great time....but I wouldn't have. You may make discreet mention of sour grapes but that is not entirely it, maybe I might have wanted to go, but just now I realized I didn't want to. I hate getting dressed up and worrying about making my hair look different than it usually does. And I do not enjoy standing around trying to make conversation or else risk looking like a snob. Because let's face it, I do look good, I do have poise, I do talk like a Harvard English professor [I think]. When I'm not comfortable, BAM [or BAND? but there's nobody here, now, who knows about that...] I turn silent. And BAM people are scared of me. That's not the way I want it to be. I should work on changing that. It is not being helped by angsty blog posts.

   But anyway, I am happier having my wrists cut up by plywood, and trying to show myself that I'm as strong as any guy [doesn't work], and racing around with a video camera, and hauling heavy items in company with an army of sweaty geeks. Happier there than I would be anywhere I had to worry about looking nice and showering and doing my hair and so on. Never thought I would be a tomboy. I still don't think I am, I just like to pretend to be tougher-than-thou.

Now I turn on my LaCie external hard drive, feel its rough-polished aluminum whir to life. It's going to be a long day on the editing floor.

Friday, May 21, 2010

at the bottom of the sine curve.

Life is doing its best right now to make me die, or else make me cry, and it is having its tail kicked because I refuse to do either.

It is amusing to me that whether my life is going well or going badly, it is always epic.  Trips halfway across the country, and cancer in the family, and filmmaking, and everything in between.

This started out as your typical enigmatic woe-is-me, I-am-alone, fade-to-black type of post but I am not going to inflict that on my reader[s? I wonder].  

I don't ever hit rock bottom, the sine curve only goes to -1 and nobody could call that rock bottom.   That's assuming we're on the unit circle of course.

I have to go. We're heading up to a robotics gig this afternoon and I need to mastermind the whole affair, as far as packing and quartermastering and marshalling the forces of food and so on. You see, I can't be tragic, or at least can't sound that way. Because even the worst things are kind of funny, if you think about them. I come home in the rain and laugh at the sky, and it's almost funny, almost like something amusing happened.  It's more of a growl though.

You know me, in a day or two I'll be back in town with amusing tales of my life as a geek. Maybe things are only funny when you know that right behind the laugh is a growl, a snarl. Tears, maybe. Pride twists you and makes it weakness to cry.

Have fun, in your personal selection of varied topics, tears and laughter and....snarls.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We are in the midst of a classic example of our family's craziness. You might think that with only three people, things would be pretty calm and so on.....yeah, not so much. 

Yesterday the hilarity was kicked off with style as the following part of chat log shows. 

'Anyways got home [in Caddie, with grannie], had lunch and lay in the sun for a long time, then 'did my math' [snoozed in the sun some more].    Also I've been pretending to be either goth or emo for the last few days [with good reason] but it's not going too well, owing to the fact that 1) math is AWESOME  2) I have some really good music for which you are partly to blame  and 3) gran sent over a batch of what is arguably the best baked custard known to man'

I had to deal with some tech troubleshooting. My dad recently got the job of proprietor of the local FIRST robotics fundraising effort web site....actually a student did, but dad was on a conference call and screen-sharing with the original Overlord the other night. Well the screen sharing showed the username and password required to log in to the database. A screenshot of that didn't show the password well. At ALL. I tried to log in on the laptop but no go, was getting several error messages. I went back to the original password...sure enough there were two errors there, and one in the username. Now all I have to do is get some savvy in SQL...

OH. Schedule for next year is getting firmed up. AP Calc, tech support, advanced computers/Photoshop, and hopefully an Oracle/databases class at another local high school. 

Last night I and a few friends [you know who you are ;) ] had a nice little randomness-fest on Skype and three-way chat on Yahoo Messenger. At one point I was tooling around in YM, messing with the audio-alert settings, and found that you can play any audio file you like instead of the default beep/fwoosh/plink noises. Like personalizing a cell-phone ringtone. Well I got enthused, and set it up so that whenever anybody sent the first instant message YM would autostart this song from my iTunes library. It's a frantically inspiring and dramatic song in the Celtic tradition. Good for getting ENTHUSED to. 

Things were fine and dandy, until in the course of the evening's flitting from Skype to AIM to YM one of my contacts managed to send first IM and BAND! [inside joke] UP starts The Song. Transcript of chat log: 

bethie_forty_twoMEEP i set Yahoo to play The Song when contact sends first Instant message
bethie_forty_twoIT IS PLAYNG
bethie_forty_twoack make it stop
bethie_forty_twoMY MUSIC
bethie_forty_twoit won't stop
bethie_forty_twoi can't change it back well i can but it's
bethie_forty_twostll playing
bethie_forty_twoI MUTE
bethie_forty_twobut i wants to hear you chuckling 
bethie_forty_twoit's not playing with itunes....

I am actually crying I am laughing sooo hard, eeeheehee...
bethie_forty_twoWHERE THE HECK is it coming from
 Uh... Close Yahoo and switch to AIM?
bethie_forty_two5/14/10 9:44 PMit's not even the Song, it's Moondance

Anyways, I finally got it to shut off, I still can't figure out what is was playing through. I guess YM has some sort of audio output function that was calling The Song. It was truly hilarious....ANYWAYS....

The next attraction involved replacing the kitchen sink. [This is the selfsame sink that we had endless discussions over a few months back, THE TIME HAS COME.]   Dad and I took out the old one and shuffled it out to the porch. 

Come dawn we were still laboring under the dark cloud of Non_Sink. Not that anybody was actually up by dawn, but I think we all get the point, THERE IS NO BLASTED SINK IN THE KITCHEN.   I got up at 8 and it was off to farmers' market [did you notice my careful use of the Comma there?]  Market was even more of a circus than usual. We made half a dozen trips between the car and the market with produce. Then I remembered that my best friend is havin a grad party/ceremony tomorrow and I wanted to get flowers for her. We got a lovely lot of sweet peas, a few of which are scenting the whole [sink-less] kitchen as we speak. Made another few trips to the car. Then we saw my grandmother's car, and went off in search of her to ensure that she didn't get mowed down by an over-excited shopper intent on strawberries. 

After we and the produce were finally all in the car, we headed off to Rice N Spice to buy our weekly fix of hazelnut/chocolate spread. THEN dad remembered he needed a stand for his keyboard, for tonight's jam session with his band. We first hit one of the three [at least] music stores in town. 'Hitting the music store' involved first trying to find a place to park. Parking in our town on a Saturday is nextdoor to Impossible and involves a lot of slick moves on the steering wheel. We took a shortcut through a parking lot but encountered another car going the other way in the subsequent alleyway. Dad waved at her to go ahead [so we could slip off in the desired direction] but she wouldn't. We then had to back up behind the row of cars ['hiding' so to speak] until said car got out of the way. Off on a lengthy traversal of a back-alleyway. Found a parking spot but the music store was closed...on to the second store in town. Dad parked and went in the back door....this happened to be in the same alley in which we had just minutes before been forced to wait in hiding. I was left in the car, to quake in terror whenever a biggish car looked like it was trying to fit past.   
After a few minutes he came out and told me to open the trunk. When he came out much later with the music stand [a tiny affair] he said it was a RUSE....the open trunk was merely to make it look as though we were engaged in moving some big honking piece of musicality out to the car, and loading 'er up. 

Got out of there and went home after a bit more dithering.   

[NOTE]  Title, 'Auto-snooker', is related to the fact that we are pretty sure we managed to snooker OURSELVES at some point in the proceedings. 

When we got home the sink was still nonexistent. This should possibly not have been a surprise. However I became what we might term cranky as I was trying to unpack and wash vegetables and cook lunch.  Irritation vanished in amusement at how classic it all was...I've set up camp in the laundry room sink but there is not nearly enough room for massive vegetable-preparing. I feel like I just moved into a dorm or something, everything is in an uproar and  there's food sitting on the counter and dishes piling up and clothing on the floor and towels everywhere.....I put a box of strawberries by the laundry room sink so that they're handy to wash, and everybody who comes through there eats a couple. Then there was a cream-spill in our overstuffed refrigerator which had to be mopped up. 

Promptly upon getting home there was a lot of fervent discussion about plans for the day. We had people at all ends of town. I wound up getting to hang out with Eva for a bit after delivering the flowers to her, which was cool. [As a side note, if you have friends who live near you, please make sure you appreciate them. I live a good fifteen minutes away from Eva, and realized I don't have many close friends in town. Like, at all. Value your friends.] 

I offered a little tech support, which involved poking around in the dust back of their PC, tooling around in their antivirus program, and offering up my most glowing advertisement for Macintosh OS. Here is a link to a highly relevant comment about virii [read the mouse-over for the scoop on Macs]. NO VIRII. Life is good. 

Let's see. I downloaded an open source HTML-editing program, Smultron. Love these Cocoa applications, they all have the exact same look and feel. Smultron looks like Bean which looks like iTunes. Unlike programs for PCs which tend to be all over the place. Macs are shiny. Some people disparage them because 'they're JUST shiny'.  How bout a shiny computer and shiny user interface which GIVES SHINY RESULTS?        

Thursday, May 13, 2010

wanderings on the dark side

We been having crazy times [when do I NOT say that....], even more than usual. Lotsa techie stuff.
Things pile up, things fall apart.  Plans for the Europe trip are off: in the last week or so circumstances conspired against the plan. Volcano in Iceland not going away, mom's health and treatments, dad's employment, and now my school situation.

   [Tuesday] I was given a note during math class, telling me to come to the office after class. I went down accordingly [remember the counseling office that I got so familiar with last fall whilst figuring out classes?] and found it full of geeks wondering what was going on. It developed that we had all signed up for computer science/programming for next year. Turns out there will NOT be any programming or CS offered next year at this high school.
   Time for a rant. This is disgraceful. My town is arguably one of the most technology-oriented in the area. The two biggest employers in the area are Hewlett Packard and the best engineering university in the state. Our area has the strongest high school robotics community in the state: people from other areas say they wish they had anywhere near the community and support that we do. The local 6 teams regularly are some the strongest at Regionals, chiefly because of the support from the university [mentors and such] and local tech/engineering businesses.  Now the biggest high school in the area is cutting their advanced computer classes.
   Computer programming/advanced computer skills are an absolute requisite in today's world. Sure, some people can learn those skills on their own.....but why are those same skills any less important than courses high schools would never think of dropping, like math or history. We hear every day that the US is losing its competitive edge in the technology market. If students do not have access to quality instruction in techie stuff, how can we be surprised at this?

  Women in technology: another rant.  I am not a feminist. But I do believe that girls should have every chance that boys do when it comes to choosing a career, if they decide to do so. In the last few days I have had a few conversations that have to bear on this.  The programming teacher from last year at CHS is a's part of an email responding to my query about the programming class: 

 "There are way too few of us in the industry, and employers are screaming for female employees in computer science/engineering.  If you want to be in high demand, and believe you enjoy programming, you're thinking pretty smart for a future! Especially when the government employment department is predicting that in 5-10 years the demand for computer science/engineering employees is going to be 70% higher than currently.  More so for women, too."

 Part of this is because of affirmative-action type stuff that involves quotas for female employees, I have no doubt. Be that as it may, you are still going to have to be top-tier to get a job in computer science [CS].

   Yesterday I hunted down the teacher who was reputed to teach the computer applications class...turns out that is not happening either, but he mentioned an interesting alternative: tech support.  Every year he has a smallish class of people who help with tech support around the school, from repairing computer operating systems to installing experience necessary.  I paraphrase:   'It's always a good class for girls to not be scared to go into the insides of a computer and tool around in there, because really it's just a bunch of junk, it's nothing to be scared of.  I find it gives them confidence they might otherwise lack; not that it seems like you have a problem with that' [I had all but swaggered into the classroom, wearing classic black and carrying Bag of Holding full of textbooks, and spoke with my characteristic poise: anybody who knows me knows what I'm talking about ;) ]

  Tuesday the meeting for the advanced computer class, I was one of only two girls in the room. Nevertheless, I was the one able to offer forth info about Autodesk Maya [computer assisted design program].

  I'm primed to become the Mid-Valley's leading robotics geek.....I'm practically on two teams, at meetings for one team I wind up leading the meeting, at the other team I tend to have info on whatever event is being talked about. Beloved laptop in hand, I sit at the center of a web of information. A few taps of the keys, and I can tell you the names of the teams registered for the off-season competition at OSU in two weeks; the possibilities of college credit at the area high schools; the season scores of any robotics team; and any other miscellaneous stuff you might need to know at the time.....

  Of course I also have resources other than purely technical. Contacts for one...I know everybody everywhere, or at least I'm working towards that goal. Theatre, robotics, film-making, I get around.

  Then there are the....skillz. Skills like getting people to do things for me. That sounds creepy doesn't it. It's not really.....I think the deal is that I am so sure that people will do what I want them to [this is usually along the lines of, hiring me as videographer, or helping me scout, or getting me into a class, or trying that take of the movie ONE MORE TIME] that THEY think they want to do it too, and away we go, and everyone is happy.    
  And knowing what's going to happen. I don't make much of this, because it sounds presumptuous [to my ears at least], but it's definitely there.  I knew a lot of the things that were going to happen this year...


I'm back in black.  The past two months are over. Life moves forward.

   Don't die, guys.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Can you feel the chaos tonight?

Greece is nearing collapse. Britain is undergoing a close and stressful election, and the pound fell.
The US stock market took a jolly dive of a thousand points or so, although there is rumor some of it was 'human error'.

I can't wait for another earthquake or volcano, that'll really make things fun.....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No excuses, no regrets

If you do what you want, be prepared to pay for it. There will be consequences.  At the same time, NO REGRETS. If you sinned, know that God can and will forgive you. Don't make excuses. But don't spend the rest of your life in regrets. At the time you did exactly what you wanted. Someway, somehow, it will turn out for the best.
[and no, I don't know all this from experience.]

This goes for things you can't control too. Accept what happened and move on.

No regrets.