Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quiet, For Now

Good morning.

Benjamin is already waiting to come back inside. No sun to roll in, so what's the point in lingering outdoors? Last night's storm gave us whistling wind, and things that went bump in the night. Now it's cold, and the yard looks dashed about and battered. I can hear the chickens, so I guess they managed alright.

Come in Benji... help me get this breakfast going.

Robotics was an all day event yesterday. In the metal shop by eight, and working until nine last night. As long a day as that was, the fun continued here at the Bird House. I heard there was scrapbooking going on after hours too. Go Marketing! I met Alex, Eli, and Geoff in the metal shop because they had so much stuff to bring home, then they got back to work on the mini-bot and deployment mechanism. Even over the rain, the howling wind, and crashing yard bits, I heard them working until midnight. Those Midnight Mechanics were pretty savvy about their team name! Late nights are inevitable it seems.

And here. This. This looks familiar! It would not be a FIRST 2102 Team Paradox build season if there weren't robots on our dining table!

(Heather, I will be re-reading your post about de-cluttering. Often. I hope I learn something.)

Ah, our life.

I see Geoff opened his birthday presents.
And Alex is still producing art for the SDA Gallery he and Suki are exclusively showing in.
Glitter glue and crayons... those belong to Maria, and William. They have been coloring and decorating butterflies. Max put away his Abarat books.
But mostly it's robots. Robots, robots, robots.

Good thing it's a big kitchen. There's space enough for me to make a hot breakfast, something hearty before they take off for another full day of building and testing, before spending the day with fellow robo-enthusiasts: Team San Diego.

They need their sleep... so I have been keeping things quiet. I think these will make a wonderful, gentle wake-up call.

Mmmmmmm... they're smelling so good!

Well... okay...

Rise and Shine! Time to get our gears rolling!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Who's there?

SDA's FIRST 2102 Team Paradox Robotics Club!

What's up?

Four days left before the Team ships a robot!
Three weeks until the first FIRST Regional Competition!

What does this mean?

This means all hands in the metal shop, all hands sewing ParrotBoxes! It means there is still test driving to do, and parts to build, it means the scrapbook is being put together, and tiny little ox ears are being stuffed and sewn to cute bags. It means more T-shirts to silkscreen! More meals to serve! More lathing, cutting, wiring, programming, smiling, laughing! More robotics!

What is a Paradox?

1. a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true

2. A pivotal musical number in "The Pirates of Penzance," which by special request will be the next Movie Night Feature at the Bird House!

3. A Paradox is FIRST 2102 Team Paradox's peculiar and beloved mascot... it is a Parrot and an Ox... which is seemingly contradictory, yet awesome.


Definitely. Awesome.
And these alliance gifts are just one example of the awesomeness of this student led, parent fed, mentor inspired, teacher supported robotics club.

Alliance gifts are tokens of 2102 Team Paradox's Gracious Professionalism and team spirit. They are gifts for the teams we will meet at the Regional Competitions. Each little Parabox will contain more student made goodies, like buttons, and hair bows!

Marketing has been designing, cutting, gluing, sewing, stuffing, braiding, silk~screening, and having fun for weeks! And since the team needs at least a hundred Paraboxes, every mini-Paradox is welcome to participate. Maria stuffed a whole bag of ox horns.

Michael and Maria made huge progress, working together.

Under Linda's watchful eye, Maria stuffed dozens and dozens of little horns. Maria was very happy about helping her favorite FIRST team.

Little helpers and generous volunteers make this team even greater.

What about mentors?

Mentors are volunteers, who come to the team with experience in engineering, marketing, business, manufacturing, and they have a passion for learning and sharing. FIRST 2102 Team Paradox loves its mentors.

Sewing, hot glue, volunteers... what else?

What else?
How about a metal shop, and students that design, manufacture, and assemble their own robotics parts? And what do you call a team that welds parts for another team? I would call FIRST 2102 Team Paradox Gracious and Professional, with a friendly, generous approach to Coopertition.

Sounds like a lot of work...

It is a lot of work. It is also a lot of fun. Testing your skills, learning, sharing, overcoming obstacles... these opportunities come from hard work, and the rewards are tremendous.

Have you ever noticed that the most gratifying experiences are a result of pushing yourself, facing challenges, and embracing the hard work with the pleasures? Robotics, the club, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox are about passionate students who believe in themselves and their rightful place in the fields of math, science, art, engineering, business, marketing, programming, and design. They are students happy to work together for the sake of learning new skills and meeting their goals... to have their chance to participate on the playing field.

This is the FIRST build season, when the team pushes forward to design, manufacture, build, and test a robot, or two! This is when the team is writing essays, filing applications, organizing carpools, finding accommodations, and planning meals. Build season is when T-shirts, buttons, alliance gifts, and sponsor gratitude is taken care of, by the students. This is a really busy time for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox. A gratifying, busy, amazing time.

And who's there?
Students are there.
Teachers are there.
Siblings, friends, grandparents, alumni are there.
Mentors are there.
Parents are there.

Believers are there. Not just dreamers, but the people who are willing to work and sacrifice, people who know the value of learning and love it!

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is an enthused, talented, curious, creative, bright, engaged team, and I love being in their company. They inspire me, and replenish my energy. They make me want to shout and cheer, and shake people up!

Like their physic's teacher says, "So you think America is going to hell in a handbasket.
You believe the kids are not all right.
Stop watching the news and become part of it!
See what students were doing while you were sleeping!
Come see the robots at the San Diego FIRST Robotics Regional."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FIRST Recruiters

F.I.R.S.T. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. You may have noticed we are sort of robocentric-techie-geekie-fully on board FIRST fans... especially FIRST 2102 Team Paradox fans. It's a natural fit for a family that likes innovation, creativity, design, engineering, science, art, building, making, sewing, painting, welding, milling, laughing, cheering, dancing, eating, animation, programming, invention... gee, who wouldn't find a reason to love FIRST?

Participating in the Team Paradox Robotics Club is not a family obligation. There is no coercion. But it does make our days easier and more fun, when from about November through April, everyone has some interest, patience, and a role to play in the action.

For Alex, it's easier... he goes to the school where the Robotics Club started, he is on the Team. He is definitely at the heart of our interests in robotics. He is one of our greatest Inspirations for loving FIRST.

Maria has found her own means of participating, and she could not be a bigger-happier-more dedicated Mini-Parrot-Ox!

Geoff and I mentor, and facilitate, we go to the supply stores, and we cheer enthusiastically.

William has never missed an FRC event, and he has always been a quietly supportive participant, often facilitating the work that Geoff and I do, by taking care of the home-front. Even better though, this year, William has found ways to join in the fun through build and design. William was a big contributor to Lavender's construction. And more recently, he has been assisting in the construction of field elements for LOGOMOTION, and milling parts for the mini robot. He is a wonderful asset.

Now. About Max.

Max is our quiet Parrot-Ox. I mean, considering the wild, pumped up, spirited intensity of FRC events and the longevity, hard work, and socially interactive nature of an entire build-competition season, it's a miracle Max has not disowned us, sought adoption from a family of librarians. He has unique needs and interests, and we have been sympathetic about how to make robotics comfortable for him, and we have been grateful to him for his willingness to participate, in spite of his discomfort.

But we have found something... or should I say Max has found something. Geoff got him on the mill, taught him safety and operating, had him in closed toe shoes, with goggles, and those FIRST 2102 PANTS! And Max began lathing wheels for the mini-bot!

He asked me to watch him. Love this!
Look at that smile! Love this!
He wants to get his friends involved, share skills, spread the Paradox Spirit! Love this!
He asked about mini-bots, and the competition, plans, what's next... he wants to know how soon we can build more mini-bots! Love this!

I think we may have successfully recruited one more bright and beautiful robotics kid! Love this!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I write my own code for Chcikenblog Chickenblog. This means every picture, every italic, crossed-out word, every small word, or bold word... every link, is expressed by me typing a little bit of code in the text.

Okay, for some of you this is yawn! so obvious! But I know other friends are like me, figuring these things out bit by bit, step by step. So, I thought I would share a treasure trove of HTML fun I just stumbled upon.

And for my own amusement... I am going to play!

Now I can underline words.

I can even underline whole sentences!

Or say things in a BIG way.

How about... I love robotics and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

Wow, this is cool.

Red, Yellow, and Blue are the colors of the season... robotics season!


Are you seeing this?
Hearts on the move?
Nifty stuff, I tell ya.

(Note to self: Use moving stuff sparingly. It gets kind of irritating after thirty seconds.)

In the Mix

My playlist is playing at top volume. I need to hear it from my computer, passed the washing machine, down the hall, in the kitchen. It has to beat, and move me, above the running water, the clanking dishes, over the grating tedium of cleaning. Play it loud, please.

Black Bird
Follow You Down
The Littlest Birds
Back In Your Own Back Yard...
on the souls of my traveling shoes...

The Littlest Birds sing the prettiest songs.

And in the mix, among the dirty dishes, the wrappers, pencils, gears, motors, metal, paint, rose petals, our busy days' flotsam and jetsam... in the mix I find beauty. I have to pause. I want to remember the day Maria came to me and said: "I collected leaves, and see what William made for me? See how he made my leaves a collection? Isn't it wonderful?"

It is wonderful. In the mix of good and bad, life is wonderful.

Turning up the volume, and getting back to the mix, smiling...

It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action
It takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction

La la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Al la la la la

It takes a night to make it dawn
And it takes a day to make you yawn brother
And it takes some old to make you young
It takes some cold to know the sun
It takes the one to have the other

And it takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
It takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes the dust to have it polished

Monday, February 14, 2011

Full Hearts♥♥ :: The Big Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

On our message board:

"There is no remedy for love
but to love more."


Our industrious Valentine girl making cards for everyone!

I chose the quote for two reasons, maybe three.
It is short, so I have enough wooden block letters to spell it out. It is sweet and hopeful, but not syrupy so. I take my sweetness in measured doses. And the statement makes sense to me... more so since I have been focusing my thoughts and heart on what I love, these last few posts. I have found that the more I think of to regard with my affection, the more I find to regard with my affection. In other words: there is a lot to love. There are many to love, and many ways to love, and it's almost a reckless endeavor to attempt to name everything and everyone... I am bound to run out of time and space to include it all.

Is there a remedy? Yes, to love more, on more than one day, but every day, for a lifetime.

Alex and Lonnie, exchanging flowers for their Winter Formal.

Lonnie geared and wired silk roses for Alex's boutonnièr. I am so happy Lonnie, Suki, Grant, and Alex agreed to have dinner here so we could see these sweet exchanges, and share in the excitement.

With a found treasure, and the copper rose Eli folded for Alex to use, Alex went to our favorite florist, and she put everything together with fresh flowers.

Maria and I tried our hands at making chocolate dipped strawberries. We had a lot of fun preparing dinner, setting the table, and making everything "fancy," as Maria gushed.

Lonnie and Alex :: Suki and Grant :: Winter Formal
Night At The Museum :: February 12, 2011

It was a Sadie Hawkins dance... girls ask boys.
Seeing all the match-ups from robotics club was cute... and smart... and bad~@ss
... to borrow from Nick F.'s FB status.

I think the Paradox~Sky Consortium couples were the cutest, smartest most bad~@ss of all. And what better destination for SteamPunk Robo-crazed couples to go, but a bad~@ss Science Center!

They joined a larger group of friends, who pooled their money together to ride to formal in a school bus. Guess what? School bus to formal = Magic School Bus. And it is way affordable and safe, and super fun! And when they arrived at Balboa Park... More Magic! A beautiful evening stroll down the Prado to the museum, and then two stories of music, lights, friends, fun, and SCIENCE!!

A heart geared for love?

Alex asked me for red paper and crinkle cut scissors this morning. I started pulling out stickers and glue and... and I should have realized that Alex's Valentine would be way beyond stickers and glitter glue! I made sure to scan it, because I think it is awesome. And I must remember to ask him what it does? because when I was admiring it this morning, he grinned and said, "It works." All those gears and pistons... they have a purpose!

Geoff and I went to a nursery I like. I introduced him to Teri, the florist that was so excited about making a custom corsage with Alex. We may or may not have stopped in the little bakery for little cupcakes for four little sweethearts that we love... our dreams coming true, we call them. We bought more rosemary and nasturtiums, and talked about our garden, and plans. We strolled, and laughed. We pondered. Such bliss.

Happy Valentine's Day... and may we all be blessed with more days to love more.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Full Hearts♥♥ :: Post V

I love William.
I love Alex.
I love Max.
I love our crazy~random~maker~shaker days.
I love ideas and laughter flying around, airships, Pepper's Ghost, robots, cakes, music, and planets, chocolate covered strawberries, chickens, and copper roses... imagination mingles freely, dreams take form... I love us.

Max loves his Nerf blaster, the semiautomatic dart throwing defender of fun.
En garde!
I love hearing Max systematically detail the unique qualities of each type of Nerf blaster, rating them by their varying degrees and levels of advantage. I love Max. His reasoning skills astound and delight me. His heart is pure, and uniquely rational.

Maria loves telling the three new jokes she's learned, and then singing them, "It's opera," she whispers in aside.

There was two little muffins in the oven, and one says:
It's hot in here!
And the other one screams: Ahhhhhk!! A talking muffin!

In today's Nerf Battle she is Spider Girl...

I love Spider Girl.

And Spider Girl's accomplice... I love him a lot.

I love William. His laugh. Oh, man. I love his laugh. He is my philosopher artist, my brilliant imagineer, with a wise and kind heart and soul.

I love Alex. His heart and soul are in alignment, his mind is turning well-cut gears. Where do young men get such old souls?

I love that we are playing this morning.
Me with my camera, and everyone else obliging me.
I love that Geoff unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.
I love that there are the remains of a very special winter-formal dinner around the kitchen.
I love that there is a robotics meeting today.
I love that my mom and I talked on the phone this morning.
I love my mom.
I love my family.
I love phones.
I love that Maria shivers with a thrill, announcing again, and again: "Tomorrow it's Valentine's!"
I love this blog, and your comments, and I love pictures that bring back wonderful memories, both joyous and heartbreaking.
I love seeing my dreams take form.

Full Hearts♥♥ :: Post I
Full Hearts♥♥ :: Post II
Full Hearts♥♥ :: Post III
Full Hearts♥♥ :: Post IV