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 afternoon...it 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.