Saturday, February 05, 2011

Not Supposed To

I am not supposed to sit, idly, like a stump.
I am not supposed to lose my keys, my crochet hook, my nerve, my heart.
I am not supposed to lose sight of the good and the beautiful, the nearly endless mercies.
I am not supposed to neglect... anything, or anyone.
I should not be obtuse, or evasive, maudlin, melancholy, or bitter.
I cannot turn my back, or let go... but I would like to. Right now, I would like to.

I think Chango knows where Ferris is. What happened. Chango has not left the house. Not to wander. Not to part with us. I think he knows what happened.

I think if Ferris returned, because sometimes these miracles happen, I think I would still be in over my head, but it would feel so good to see him, and enjoy all of the many stinky-pinky things he did.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Gung Hey Fat Choy!

Hey, Sanka!
Sanka, have you heard?

Happy Lunar New Year, pretty bunny.
And did you know, this is the year of the rabbit? The Golden Rabbit.

Of course you know.

What a great year to be a bunny. What a great year for all of our family, and yours. "According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiation. Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children. Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise."

Oh, Sanka... this sounds wonderful.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Wise Whistle-Pig Says...

Winter is not the only season we are immersed in. It also happens to be Build Season! If you are on a FIRST Robotics team, then you know it means that machine shops, and silk screening rooms are working in full swing to prepare for regional robotics competitions around the world.

The clever Groundhog, also known as a Whistle-Pig! is our go-to prognosticator, and judging by the kind of weather blowing through the Midwest, and heading east, I think it is safe to say that "more winter" is the Groundhog's prediction.

As for Build Season, the wise Whistle-Pig says... "Twenty-one days on the build calendar, before the robot ships!"

Only this year, it's not just one robot that is meeting on the field of LOGOMOTION! This year FIRST is celebrating twenty years of promoting "The sport of the mind," and with this in mind, the challenge is for the high school teams to incorporate elements of robotics from the middle and grade school robotics programs, by building a mini-robot that will play in the game.

Basically what this means, is that there is more fun for everyone! Taking the optimist's point of view. It can also be implied that Alex, like all of his teammates, and mentors, is deeply immersed in designing, machining, building, programming, wiring, and testing two unique robots. And so, our Groundhog celebrations are very much robo-themed.

Yes, I am actually trying to tie Groundhog Day and robotics into one neat and tidy post. Work with me, people.

Unlike last year, we did not have a campfire, and this morning I did not get up early enough to make Groundcakes. I fell asleep, very late, to the steady hum of boys in the carport, milling really tiny parts, for a really tiny robot..

I have not chronicled the ups and downs of all the work Alex, Eli, and William have been doing for the mini-bot. William has been preparing the home metal shop, where we have a lathe and mill capable of cutting those very small pieces needed to build a small robot. Alex and Eli have been designing, and redesigning, a robot under fifteen pounds, capable of launching itself from a larger robot, then rising up a ten foot pole, and triggering a switch.

In Alex's hand you see a poly carbonate cylinder. He and Eli made it into a coupler, so that the motor's gears can be reconfigured... are you following this? 'Cause I am not. I just made Geoff explain it to me, and I am pretty much lost.

I do know that Alex and Eli have been calculating and configuring and working in measurements that are one-thousandth of an inch... then converting those figures for the metric lathe!

Go Robotics!

Okay. Maybe tonight we can add a little more Whistle-Pig to our Groundhog Day. Believe me, I am not above serving Groundhog cakes for dinner. And a nice roaring fire would be really nice. It's cold here... 53˚ f! Never mind our "cold." It really is cold in the mountains of snow in Massachusetts! And there will be big bonfires in Spain, for Día de la Candeleria. Go to "Moving On" and read all about this interesting occasion, the anticipation of spring. North of España, Pink Purl is recognizing Imbolc. Imbolc, or for us Groundhog Day is "A cross-quarter day... a festival day halfway between a solstice and an equinox." The things I have been learning suggest to me that we were right to bring home a tree to plant, and that we should probably add butter to our Groundcakes.

Well, whatever the weather, whatever you are immersed in, robotics or snow, or both: I wish you joyful anticipation and a spring full of dreams coming true, happy adventures, and many celebrations.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Summer Days

These are the days of summer, that arrive in the middle of our winter. Most of January has been sun filled, warm, bright. The sky has been as blue as July, and friends have been sharing their beach pictures on the social networks.

We are lucky.

Max and Maria put up the tent, in spite of Ferris' help. Then they invited friends over for a Nerf battle-Dungeons and Dragons-Giant Pizza-Poki-Sleep-over. Lucas and Eric accepted the invitation and the revelry commenced at sundown, Saturday night.

Ferris did not wait for the sun to go down. His fun began two minutes after his rescue from his earlier adventure. He was crazy-happy about the tent! He kept running under the tent, then Maria would go in after him. Inside the tent, Max was laughing as his wild cat ran, then bounced off of the tent walls. Ferris wore himself out so thoroughly that he was panting, like a tired dog.

In this picture I can tell Ferris is not tired yet. Max is the only one who can get away with holding Ferris this way, and when Ferris isn't feeling wild, he submits contentedly to Max's snuggling embrace.

You know it's an easy day, when you find the time to stretch out on the lawn and photograph weeds. I am earnestly trying to learn about aperture and exposure. This one seems to have come out alright, but I have two hundred images that suggest I need to keep working at it.

It turns out that this was the last full day of summer. Sunday morning was nice too, but it got progressively cooler, windier, and then last night it was raining! Makes me glad we all had a day outdoors. Sanka too! She enjoyed her visit to the lawn, the apple slice Maria gave her.

She enjoyed sticking her nose to the ground, finding some good earth to inhale.

Then she overheard us discussing Groundhog Day, our plans for celebrating, the possibility of six more weeks of winter!

She might have been worried about more winter days... but when winter is like this? who can honestly fret?

So, yesterday summer left, again. And now it is cold(er), and gray. Everything is damp.

Okay. About Groundhog Day... the tent is still up, so the boys can sleep out, like they did last year. We have plenty of whole grain pancake mix, so we could whip up some Groundcakes! I think it would be the ideal day to plant our little GIANT Sequoia tree.

We were discussing all the possibilities and my favorite suggestion came from Alex, who said, "We could go Groundhog caroling!" Glorious! I love this idea. And please, if you know any traditional Groundhog carols, or other appropriate ditties, we would very much appreciate knowing about them. Now that summer is over, we are ready to welcome and embrace winter's return!