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Saturday, July 24, 2010

mid-summer crazy times

Our last week has been filled with trademarked insanity! 
Last Thursday we left at an early hour of the morning for two days in Portland. By 9 AM, when we were supposed to be at the seminar in a northern part of the city, we were well and thoroughly lost in a warren of streets that tended to turn into other streets, change their names, or disappear entirely. 
We kept a harassed eye peeled for a coffee-shop in hopes of wifi, to attempt to further complicate our directions with Google Maps accessed via the trusty laptop. We finally got hold of the conference director who proved to not be from the area, and said he’d call us back. 
The coffee-shop materializes in the guise of the Three Friends, on the corner of 12th Avenue. We eagerly trot inside, toting the laptop [in a discreet bag]. It is a sunny morning, there are patrons sitting outside on the sidewalk and more queueing up inside. I size up the situation and make my way with the unerring female homing-instinct to the restroom at the back of the building. This proves seedy in the extreme: the cloth-towel dispenser is covered with graffiti, but it is artsy Portland graffiti. “Read Days of War, Nights of Love”; “natural pear oil soap” and corresponding website; a lot of similar material. 
I come out and find that Dad is only just now succeeding in gaining the upper hand at the cash register. There is in fact wifi and we set up shop at a table. 
There is a nice collection of velvet-paintings on the wall opposite the bar, including the obligatory likeness of Elvis. The furnishings are done in bright colors and there is just as colorful a selection of patrons: tattoos, former hippy-type greying hair, leather, and so on. 

I am looking up the directions: almost immediately my friend Levi observes that I [unwittingly] came online, and sends me a chat message: I respond with a panicked and indecipherable indication that ‘we’re lostin P-TOWN ack!’
Then the conference director calls back and confirms our now remedied directions. We head off back the way we came, towards the infamous Sandy Blvd. Sandy turns into another street at a critical point. 

We got to the conference without further incident. We were not even late...we headed into the building [on a small Christian college campus] and encountered half a dozen persons of the male persuasion. The gaming community is overwhelmingly male: the game developers’ community, even more so. 
The conference was small, maybe 30 people at any one time. But awesome. The CGDC [Christian Game Developers’ Conference] is going into ten years and there were attendees from all over. Colorado [‘you should seen all the empty bags of pork rinds! It was a long drive!’], Florida, and England. A homeschooling mom who has been working on a game for seven years with a volunteer team. A graduate from DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington State [I really perked up when I heard that]. 

The conference addressed some issues I/my parents have had with game design as a career choice. Although I would have liked to hear further thoughts on video game addiction. 
But the consensus, which I had also previously come to, was that Christians should respond by becoming involved in the industry, not putting up walls around one area or another. Similar to the film industry. It is not going away, so there is nothing to do but take the chance to change it for the better. And this may not mean making ‘specifically Christian’ video games [or films], but rather games that honor God in the way that the rest of creation does, without a specific message being forced through.  
It seems also that the game design industry is not hostile to Christians. My amazing ESP skills [:P] had already come to this conclusion. Someone said that Hollywood tends towards license, while the game dev. community tends towards anarchy. Something I’d already thought subconsciously. 

The keynote speech finished up with a memorable call to action: ‘We’re giving them the love of Jesus, but it doesn’t look like love, it’s Gears of War and meatcubes....’

There were a lot of technical workshops too. In between those, lunch, and retailing every detail to a long-distance friend, I made contact with the DigiPen graduate. That night in the dorm lobby, whilst there was a large contingent gaming by the monitors, he and I and my dad talked for at least an hour, as recorded in the previous post. Finally Dad and I migrated back to the rooms: I was in hot pursuit of a shower. [This was after we got back from the FLL mentoring workshop, by the way.] Dad left saying he was going up to the lobby: ‘There’s this game I want to try out...’ This coming from my distinctly non-gaming dad. When I meandered back upstairs [hair wet, laptop bag over shoulder, clad in signature black] he was still at it...I collapsed on a couch and updated the ole blog. Conversed with peopleses. Dad was still gaming at 1 AM...he was horrified when I told him what time it was :P

Next day we had more workshops [kicked things off with a talk on getting started in iPhone app programming] and headed for home so as to be back in time for me to make my 5 PM meeting at the daVinci Days grounds, to collect my media pass and so on. 

Saturday was more good times. First thing in the morning I headed off for a meeting of the crew to be filming daVinci Days, our town’s celebration of science, art and innovation. It is a cool place. Well this year in addition to participating in the FIRST Robotics demonstration and scrimmage, I was on the crew from the local community-access TV station, filming the event. It actually worked out so that I was able to film the robotics event myself. 

After that I headed off to the park where the 6 local teams participating in the event were having a barbeque. Hung out with awesome-peoples! Including a New Recruit for our team [courtesy of me] who declared himself remarkably enthused for robotics after the day was over. 

Discussed the glaring lack of any YouTube presence for the epic conga line at regionals: this was declared a shocking omission by all who had been present :D 
Someone had brought some foam and PVC pipe swords and a lot of the lads degenerated into swordplay after lunch...from thence we carpooled over to the competition area. Unloaded my dad's car, which was carrying all the baggage, robot, tools, etc. I was laboring under a few pieces of luggage when two lads from Team 997 came up and toted it all over for us. 

Our team has attended daVInci Days for quite a few years but we've never been this prepared and organized. We forgot to bring a tent for shade, but were able to use a spare one that another team had  ^.^    We trotted forth our awards, a table to display said awards on, and our NASA/team banner, among other things. In addition I had a sizable video camera and massive tripod. There was much use of duct tape, both for setting up our team flag, and for building the competition field [a mammoth undertaking]. 

We played a few rounds of friendly scrimmage more than competition, and our bot was gratifyingly unscathed despite the regional competition and another off-season event. The general public was present and there was an endless line of kids waiting for a turn to drive the robots. Fortunately they did not manage to slam ours too hard into the sides of the field, hehe. 

There was this one epic kid, looked like he was about eleven or twelve, wearing a baseball cap with a tiny solar panel mounted on the top, and a hole cut in the brim with a little fan going through it..he had designed it himself, soldered a few wires together and stuff...he said it didn't work very well...when does it ever work the first time :P  I tell ye, that enthused me no end...
Also I got to rendezvous with some friends from other teams that I don't get to see very often. Good times all round. At one point I was filming from one side of the field, and looked round at the six or so teams behind the drivers' stations and doing MC and watching from the sidelines, and felt an overwhelming affection for these people, half of whom I barely knew. My people....I've said that before...

Various of the students gave their personal FIRST testimonies. Scott, team captain for 997 [the team I went to Championships with: we're really good friends] was talking about the stress and fun of regional competitions. He sez, 
'We get to bed at midnight, and get up at 5 AM,' [he remembers] 'And some of us don't sleep at all.'   [Three things happens at once: he catches my eye, I give an enthused thumbs-up, and Dean [a member of another team, who's doing most of the MC stuff, sees me grinning, remembers how I'd been talking earlier today about no sleep, and pumps his fist in the air in my direction.]   As a friend summed up: 'So, basically, he mentions that SOME people don't sleep, and everyone looks meaningfully at you...'

After the competition most of our team [all three of us...] meandered around daVinci Days. I more or less subsisted on the best BLTs I have ever had in my life, as provided by a local and organic food seller. 

Sunday I worked with CCAT Channel 29 to film some of the music and other events on stage at the festival. That went very well indeed...working a long and intense day with constant attention on a heavy camera but it was good. 

Tuesday my dad and I attended a training session for a part-time job doing phone work before the election. We'll be doing that every day of the week for 3 weeks starting August 9th, and then for 5 weeks in October. The pay is good and I've done the work before, but it is going to be hard to juggle that with school....yeee. 

I have also dealt in grant-request forms, meetings with Important People, and so on and so forth. And college decisions. I'm still wavering between DigiPen and Oregon State U.  
Happy news! We got one of the grants we applied for to go to our FIRST LEGO League teams [for 4th-8th grade students]. Was very enthused to hear that. 
And got to visit/chat/catch up/do the girly squee thing [LOL] with one of my friends who I hadn't seen in WAY too long :)

AND tonight some friends from North Carolina are arriving, passing through on their road trip :D  Yesterday we prepared heroic quantities of foodstuffs for the oncoming hordes [all 6 of them...hehe] and I raced around frantically. Was 'in meetings' all day. Including one with our collaborating partner for the Junior FLL program. 

At one point Mom was on the phone with Grandma, who must have asked what Daddy-o and I were doing: Mum said, 'No, they're scurrying around....' which pretty much summed up our past week. 

Also I am not sure why I feel the compulsion to document each and every incident of my life on this blog. I guess it's the only journal I keep up with at this point. I'm not even going to read over this post for typos, hehe. 


LeeLee said...

That kid's hat sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

I like the picture. (above) That woman has a look of serenity and focus and an awe inspiring dufflebag carrying an untold wealth of knowledge and technology.