Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chicks :: One Week Old

One week ago Zelda and Puff's eggs began hatching. Before heading to San Diego for a full day in the robot zone, we met five tiny chicks. Babies, brand new to the world, and utterly adorable.

Unlike other chicks, ones we brought home from a feed store, these chicas have been under the constant care of their mama, Princess Zelda. No heat lamps. No constant, vigilant observing and fretting. Far, far less handling, which is kind of a bummer. But overall, it is pleasant and natural, simpler, letting nature do what nature does... Zelda is a very good mama, and watching her with her very first brood has been an honor and pleasure.

Even when they were only one day old, we observed Zelda taking her babies to the head of the class. She home schools, naturally. With friends over to share the fun, we watched with delighted awe as Zelda demonstrated digging up good stuff. It was the chicas first time on the lawn, free to explore the grass and weeds, and in no time at all Zelda taught them to scratch vigorously. They followed her, watching and tracking her strange dance, then moments later they were dancing too. Their tiny feet bringing up small flies, seeds, dirt, goodies!

Five little ones, none of them quite resembling their platinum blond mama. Some with feathered feet, some with clean legs. One looking every bit like the other Silky sister, Puff. This one I think looks most like Zelda. I think her name is Paradox.

Where is Paradox now?
Five little chicas. Five pio-pio-pio-pio-pios!
And only one is clearly unique.

Even the poof of dark hair suggests it... that one is definitely Kamen, a hen, we hope.

Feathered feet... the other distinguishing feature.
I think we will call them Kamen and the Mini-Bots.

Those feathered feet are a mama trait. Both Silky sisters, Zelda and Puff, have feathered feet, which are hilarious. When they dig and scratch, they brush the earth like giant brooms, sweeping particles into the air.

Did I say Zelda is fair? Well, normally she is a blond, but after her first dust bath in a month, she lost some of her natural coloring. Today's lesson: Dust Baths, Heaven on Earth. Zelda looked as though she were having org@smic seizures... so utterly in bliss and oblivious to all, we thought she might bury a chick, absentmindedly. They scurried around her prone, then writhing body, taking notes, and pipping madly. Minutes later, they were pumping their own wee wings and raising the dust.

One week old chicas. And their mama. All the fun a Saturday can hold.

Friday, March 18, 2011

There is Good In the World

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, Robotics Club 2011.
The newest team photo. I took this yesterday, when all of the school clubs gathered during their lunch "hour" for yearbook pictures.

Last year a lot of you generously made donations to get this amazing bunch of students to the Championships in Atlanta. Thank you. I cannot say it is "unbelievable," but it is highly remarkable: FIRST 2102 Team Paradox has earned a second trip to FIRST Championships, this time in St. Louis!

Look at them! They are a big club, full of bright and dedicated, certainly spirited, engineers, writers, artists, designers, programmers.

It's not possible to get them all to St. Louis, but this team deserves to be represented at FIRST Championships. They are Champions. The team has registration fees to pay, travel expenses, lodging costs, and they create scholarships for team members. They have continued to do their own fund raising. They are working hard to pursue new avenues. And they are maintaining high grades, taking exams, volunteering, participating in band, school plays, Japanese Honor Society, and Space Exploration Club... have I mentioned how incredible they all are?!

Some FRC teams work with million dollar budgets. Seriously! This team builds a robot, travels, and markets the team on less than 5% of that figure. It's yet another testament to the hard work and dedication of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox. To ensure the future of this team, to secure a place for them in St. Louis, I am appealing to you to please make a contribution through the school's foundation. This is a tax deductible donation to a non-profit organization. It can be made by check or through paypal. Please be sure and earmark your donation: For Robotics and this page can help you complete this transaction.

There are a lot of appeals for our money, for our time, and attention, and I appreciate you patiently, thoughtfully considering our request. Honestly, these students hold our future in their capable hands. They are focused, and compassionate. In them, we are investing in viable solutions for the problems and crises our world faces today.

Would you consider sponsoring a robotics team? Let's talk! Sponsors of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox take great pride in supporting a grateful and intelligent bunch of students... students who are eager to prove their worth and abilities in robotics, business, art, marketing, design, programming, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing.

Helen and Michal getting a handle on Lavender's controls!

Last weekend was wild... the FRC event, and those adorable new chicas! It was amazing. Incredibly, it stayed good. Saturday, after twenty hours of cheering and dancing, we went to a family birthday party. Happy birthday, Rich! It was kind of a surreal transition, but it was fun celebrating Rich's big Five-0, and also explaining a family of six arriving in matching red pants and Paradox shirts!

On Sunday we woke up slowly, and spent most of the day processing, and decompressing. Ruth and Paul came up and met the chicas. James, Deanne, and Parker came to visit too. Alex revved up the mini-bot and more good friends came by to see it re-enact its run up the ten foot pole. Michal and Helen tried the controls to Lavender, the other resident robot.

Sanka enjoyed her time in the raised bed, where she loves to tunnel and frolic. Alex and William have promised to help me make this bed a permanent rabbit habitat... rabbitat!

It is so much fun sharing the new chicas with everyone. They are doing just fine. After raising chicks with heat lamps, and vigilance, it is a simple delight to leave the heavy lifting to a good mama hen. She knows just what to do to keep her brood happy and safe.

Michael and Michal came to the SD robotics competition with their friends, Guido and Annette. They joined us, cheering in the stands, visiting the pits... and I think it is safe to say: they've been Paradoxed! Michael shared some of his impressions of the event in his blog. And doesn't he look good in his new shirt?

Michal, Ruth, Patricia, and Annette

Our good weekend moved with us to our friend's home, where they were building a nice warm fire, serving chilled wine, and some lovely food. Paul brought over his summer sausage from Wisconsin, then Geoff ordered pizzas... we needed something to soak up all the good wine and beer we were inhaling.

Geoff and Paul

Maria and Max loved the freshly squeezed orange juice, the roasted macadamia nuts, and throwing wood on the fire. I loved bonding with Corina... my personal flight attendant! She and I were really winding down a good weekend in style.

Michal, and Corina

I have not forgotten that while we were enjoying these simple pleasures, a lot of terrible events were unfolding. In fact, I think our happiness made me even more mindful of the tragedies happening in Japan. My only answer to the destruction and grief is to be thankful for the good that remains, and to continue to find the means to apply my time, interest, money, and support to education, to nurturing motivated, bright students, to exchanging ideas and constructive action with friends.

Want to learn more about high school robotics, and FIRST? It is "The New Cool." Chickenblog, through The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation, would like you to have a copy of Neal Bascomb's book, "The New Cool." Leave a comment on this post... about good weekends, about friends, about robotics, about FIRST, about Japan, about chicks... about wine pairings! Leave a comment and your name will be put in the hat for a gift drawing. Make a donation for robotics, any amount, and your name will go in the hat five times! Want to be a big winner? Make a donation, and comment here with a link to your blog post supporting FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, and you will be in the drawing for "The New Cool" and ultra cool FIRST 2102 Team Paradox swag... T-shirt, buttons, a mini-Paradox!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thank you Soule Mama

Monday, March 14, 2011


Friday and Saturday our family took deep breathes, gave heartfelt prayers for Japan, then resolved to go forward, giving our minds and hearts permission to put passion FIRST, and enter the robot zone.

Then this happened! Imagine me, the Chcikenbl the Chickenblogger, having to walk away from brand new, just hatching baby chicks!! Impossible? Just about, but now you get a pretty good idea how I feel about my family and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... because I secured Zelda and her adorable brood, then grabbed my pom-poms, and headed to absolute robotics awesomeness.

No regrets! Even with chicas on the brain, this was where I wanted to be.

Friends, you may remember Mark Leon? He reminds us to "Do the math, and save the world!" Mark Leon is the blue-haired, high energy, math pumping, spirited emcee of FIRST Regional Competitions. He's the best. His high energy, which he maintains over two days of competition, is spirited and intelligent. He keeps the games moving forward, while celebrating the students' achievements, efforts, and dance appetites. He does not steal the show, he highlights the students, who are the real stars.

Here it is... my uncensored, unrehearsed, unedited truth:  I cannot manage my emotions long enough to write about what happened, about these students, about their successes, about what they do and the grace, spirit and professionalism they do it with.  I cry when I preview the videos.  My hands shake when I see their robot,  or recall their dance.  I am going to share a few of about one thousand images from my camera, and I want you to know that each moment captured represents one hundred thousand just like it.  FRC San Diego was a competition, a chance to represent in a game, the minds, the work, the ambition of FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... a high school robotics team with enough energy, spirit, intelligence, and perseverance to light an entire arena and beyond.

Daniel, Betty

Get fierce with us~
Get spirited with us~
We did the math, now the games begin, and we don't stop until they close the doors.

It's a roller coaster ride... in the arena seats, in the pits, on the playing field. Of course, for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, the ride is always UP! UP!! UP!!!


The celebration, or competition (we seem to make them one and the same) is hard earned, and no one stops working to keep the bots rolling.

Andrea and Maria

I think there are indications of when something is truly exceptional, and when it has attracted truly exceptional people. This team is only five years old. It is a growing team, with new members joining every year. And those graduating? They come back... often to mentor, to ensure the viability of the team they will always be a part of.

Society wants us to be believe that young adults are aloof or unfocused, but I beg to differ. I know some brilliant young people that take great care to make responsible, intelligent choices, and they are conscientiously making this a better world.

Our team filled an entire section (overfilled!) with family, teachers, mentors, neighbors, sponsors, administrators, friends, other team members! and new fans of FIRST!

Kevin B, Matt, and Jessie

They came from near and far for their team.


New generations of engineers and artists for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

Lonnie and Alex

Do you know what happens when great artists, great designers, great builders, spirited, talented, brilliant people get together and agree to build a robot, take it to a competition, and inspire an entire arena to cheer with you, and for you...? Paradox! Paradox happens.
FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

And team spirit is wonderfully contagious! It spreads like a smile. It crosses borders, and gives everyone a FIRST 3794 WinT- Paradox attitude!

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox loves a spirited rookie team!

Myron and Alex

Mentors! We love our mentors!
A good mentor stands behind the students, and steps up when there is a need, when asked. And that is a lot to ask of a mentor, but these students are sincere when they say that they want to learn... learn by doing, learn by trying, learn by winning, and even from failing... then trying again, and again.

Some people think that young people cannot get it right, cannot see a clear path for themselves, and they want to step in at every turn in the road. I say, they need our support, they need our understanding, our time, our encouragement, and sometimes they need us to step out of the way and let them go where they are meant to go. A clear course is never guaranteed, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is gaining the confidence and skills to navigate for any obstacles. They get it right.

Maria and Amy

They get it right, and then they come back to the Team that will always be a part of who they are. And they share their knowledge and passion, inspiring new generations to reach for greatness! Asa and Matt, Nick, Haley, Kelsey, Amy, Andrea, Isaac, Kevin... a few of the people I know that have built a foundation that is rising higher and higher, bringing along new students, new engineers, new artists, spirited, young Paradox... the future is secure for FIRST 2102!

From across town, across the country, from all over the world, FIRST 2102 Team Paradox brought in new friends to robotics, new fans for FIRST, for science and math, for team spirit!

Maria and Sammay

Maria has been around robots, and techno-geeky-LEGO passion all her life. She was introduced to Team Paradox when she was three years old. She was traveling with the team by the time she was four years old. Now. Well, now she is pretty sure after she finishes kindergarten, she will go straight to high school... straight to FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

She's been learning from the best!
We have no intention of unplugging her.

And it makes my heart joyful to see her secure and happy, because I know that this Team extends beyond the campus, beyond the arena... it has become a family of caring and passionate people working together to support dedicated students achieve their dreams. Everyone looking out for one another.

Will, Greg, Victoria, and Kyle

Girls FIRST. FIRST Girls! Oh, Victoria! I got my eyes on you! This child is going places. Rumors of her eloquence and sweet skills talking with judges, and working on the drive team, make me very excited for Paradox.

Tatiana, Andrea, Amy

The talents and leadership abilities of our marketing and build teams are spectacular. I see Andrea and Amy doing great things in their universities, and they bring it home to their team. And Tatiana. Yes. Girls FIRST. FIRST Girls! FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is going to rocket to outer space, with Tatiana on board.


Cheering, pom-poms, dancing... team spirit is something this team does well, and still, in the midst of all the colorful celebrating, their minds are engaged in the game, in the functioning of the robot. They have to know their fellow teams, build alliances, and face obstacles. Repairs, programming, strategy... these go on through out the day, and in some cases, late into the night.

Alex, Geoff, Tatiana, Eli, and Maria

Friday, after the mini-bot was the highest scoring mini-bot of the entire day's matches, Alex, Tatiana, and Eli restored the mini-bot. We were back home by nine p.m., and they got busy replacing burnt out motors, and fine tuning their hard working super-mini-bot, until one in the morning. The next day... super-mini-bot performed again, as it was designed and built to perform: fast, and high scoring!

Intelligent dedication. Sacrifice. It leads to very good things. Very good.
And when they have cheered themselves hoarse, and cried for joy, they have some amazing rewards to show for their efforts.

This is the emptiest our section ever was over the roughly twenty hours of the competition. This is when FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, the robotics club from San Dieguito Academy was shaking hands with the judges and accepting medals for Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. This is their second time winning this honor. In the stands, parents and friends, family, like Paul and William, keep up the cheer, for sheer joy. Winning is amazing. Winning and knowing that you are sharing it with people who love and appreciate what you do is beyond!

Third place overall. Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. Highest scoring Mini-Bot. Invitation to St. Louis FIRST Championships, and passion.

Passion FIRST!

Alex and Michal

Alex, Amy, Tatiana, and George

Eli and Jessica


George and Maria


Gabe and Nathan

Hungry Paradox

A real life Narwhal!

Maria and Nick F.


Proud parents!

Geoff, Paul, Nathan, Alex, and Maria

Sammay and Lonnie, and a Narwhal!


Gabe, Will, Kevin

Suki, Sammay and Kiley

Lonnie's birthday... real reason we all wore her favorite color and cheered for twelve hours!

I told you we feed them!

Elise, Lonnie, and Alex

President and vice president of marketing, and birthday girls: Suki and Lonnie!

Tom, and FIRST 2102 Team Paradox!

A letter was just forwarded to me. It's from Jeff Crosby, the Head Judge in San Diego:

"Congratulations to Team Paradox for it's outstanding performance at this year's San Diego regional! The team was great on the field, but even more importantly demonstrated excellence in all those characteristics that FIRST hopes all teams will exhibit, and this resulted in a very well deserved Engineering Inspiration Award. For those not familiar, this award is one of FIRST's highest honors, and earns the team a trip to the championships in April. Team Paradox is truly among the FIRST's elite!

Great job!


Now I am crying again. Chickenblog is, and always will be about: Deep thoughts and other musings from a woman who writes about the man she loves, their 3 sons and 1 daughter... chickens, and a passion for all children, giving them the support and tools they need to be who they are destined to be. FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is a part of that passion.