Friday, June 17, 2011

A Gentleman and a Scholar

Max has been promoted from grade school, and in the fall he will be in junior high school.

And now, it is summer. At last. And while there is plenty to reflect on, to ponder about his career as a grade school student, and even more to anticipate in the years ahead, I think that foremost in our minds and hearts is: summer. Summer and liberty, and choices. Summer nights, and summer play. Summer doldrums, perhaps, but what marvelous doldrums when they are our very own to remedy. Water, and stars, fireworks, family visits, more books, more time, more of very little, and very much. We will count these days and savor the minutes, the very golden minutes.

Our gift to Max, sixth grade graduate, diligent student who was never unruly, who faced his daily challenges, and met the demands of academia with dutiful obedience: the privilege of marking this day, his success, in whatever way felt comfortable, in whatever way he chose.

He declined the pomp and circumstance, the formal and ceremonial traditions, and he opted for coffeecake and tea at a favorite spot, with his Tutu, William, Geoff, and me, his mom. Then home.

It is wonderful when we find the perfect gift for someone... something they deeply appreciate, need. A good fit, an ideal memento. The right to choose how he recognized his promotion was the perfect gift for Max, an honor he earned.

Coffeecake and tea was followed by a stop at the tattoo and piercing salon. Alas, they were closed. <----- that's me being funny, because sometimes when I am overly emotional I resort to wise@ss humor, it is a burden my sons bear with some small amount of consternation.

Max you are shiny smart, and amazingly good, and your dad and I love you very much.

{this moment}

{this moment}~A Soule Mama 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.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fair Weather

This may be the most fun I've had at the S.D. Fair, which we still call the Del Mar Fair. I've probably said it before: if I go to this fair, then I want to see some animals, some flowers, and a big ear of roasted corn, and then I am pretty much ready to go home. But, this year we had early admission for the Student Showcase, and my robo-enthusiasm gave the day a whole new passion, a fresh perspective. Geoff went even earlier than Maria, Alex, and me. It must have seemed like a fairground ghost town at that hour.

When we arrived we found great parking, a quiet midway, clean streets, colorful booths, and Angry Birds.

Kind of surreal. Totally cool. Typical June morning sky, what we call June Gloom. I like early morning at the fair, and I admit it: I love June Gloom! It's not as though it's cold. Just remember, when planning a visit to S.D., if you want summer weather, book for July through October.

When the coast is overcast, it rarely lasts all day, and before long it's hot enough for ice cream, for riding across a blue sky, for the feeling that it is really summer at last, and not just the last days of spring.

Which reminds me, I need to get our chicas out of the garden beds, so I can get some tomatoes in. And beans, and squash, and basil, and peppers, and zinnias, and ...

and sheep. No. No sheep in the garden beds, but they would look so adorable somewhere in our yard. Maybe.

Or, maybe a llama? But. They spit. I know. So, no. No llamas.

If you ever played, then you know what I am thinking right now. The resemblance is uncanny. Only, Peaches is not green.

Cute. Has anyone read Charlotte's Web and not thought piglets are cute?

Yes! Yes! Yes!
(This will make my mother want to pick up the phone! Mom, I am so exhausted and overwhelmed with my full plate. There is no chance of me acting on this impulse. I promise. Honest. I ain't lying.)
Those floppy ears... sigh

They're cute, and a lot of fun too.
If only they had floppy ears.
Just kidding.

This reminds me... time to order straw bales. Alex wants to have a danger party. Somehow these are related. Should I be worried?

Maria, my farmer girl, you won't ever ask for throwing knives and Portal Cakes, will you? Although, the cake does look delicious and moist, so I guess I can deal.

We ate some fair fare, like an ice cream, and lemonade, a gyros sandwich... we saw cows, and sheep, and pigeons. We did not go on any rides though.

Wait. I take it back. I shelled out quarters for this mild mouse. Maria cracks up on this foot jiggler massage device. And she may not want a danger party when she turns seventeen, but I know she is going to insist on wilder rides than the foot massager. She had her heart set on riding the roller coaster, but was turned away because of her stature.

(insert sigh of relief)

I wonder how many quarters it would take to bring this stuffed chica home?

Yes, it was a good day. In fact, this is the only time I left thinking I look forward to next year. Maybe because I forgot to get roasted corn on the cob.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

San Diego County Fair Student Showcase :: Passion FIRST!

Ah, the power and passion of Paradox. FIRST 2102 Team Paradox Passion! It's so powerful it got us up and out of the house to visit the Fair, where we got to enjoy a mini competition demonstration of the awesomeness of FIRST and Team San Diego.

FIRST 2102 Team Paradox earned a third place ribbon, exhibiting Terence and the mini-bot tower. Not to be apologetic, or defensive, but I gotta say: I am partial to robots built by students, a little rough, kind of scrappy. Terence is a robot built of team passion and sweat equity, and he looks FIRST rate to me.

Hello, CLU. The mini-bots, CLU and Rinzler were being showcased too, and they enjoyed coming out for some tower races. FIRST 2102 Team Paradox brought the spec-accurate mini bot tower, so teams could test and time their mini-bots.

After all those regional competitions, and Championships, it was fun to bring back LogoMotion, to hang out with friends and enjoy the robots.

Here is the mini-bot of FIRST 2485 Francis Parker's We Are Robot Lords... aka WAR Lords.
Mini-Bot time: eight feet in 2:55 seconds

Loading CLU, making systems checks... the team gets set for another match of LogoMotion.

FIRST 1622 Team Spyder, 2009 Las Vegas Regional winners. Team San Diego is full of winning teams!

And here's the Spyder Mini-Bot set to climb the tower.
Mini-Bot time: eight feet in 2:51 seconds

There is always something to update, maintain, adjust... mechanically, electronically, with the programming, in business and outreach. Passion for FIRST and robotics doesn't stop after the buzzer.

Even with the 2010-2011 season just wrapped up, FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is already launched into the new season with great summer projects, like park clean-ups, and sponsor connections, like visiting SAIC... an exceptional experience for the team. New opportunities have come up too, like mentoring FTC rookie team the Lancers from Carlsbad High School. The metal shop isn't taking a break, and the prototype for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox's T-shirt cannon is looking real good!

2012 for FIRST 2102 is looking real good. A great team, with a great new executive branch and many, many talented specialists, a team passionate about learning and growing and promoting STEAM... Science~Technology~Engineering~Art~Math!...

a team with supportive alumni, dedicated mentors...

devoted families... yes, the future is bright...

and not just for FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... as younger teams, like FIRST 3128 The Aluminum Narwhals, and seasoned teams, like FIRST 812 The Midnight Mechanics, work together to share the message of FIRST, to support Team San Diego teams... opportunities to celebrate and learn, to grow as a powerhouse of robotics passion... all FIRST robotics participants benefit... from FLL Juniors to FLL to FTC and right through FRC. Even mentors, and sponsors feel the benefits and joys of hardworking and bright Team San Diego member teams!

Remember Maria's EggBot, the one she built with her dad? It was a huge hit when FIRST 2102 Team Paradox shared it at the Street Fair, so we brought it to the San Diego County Fair, and this time, instead of drawing on eggs, Geoff set it up to add team logos to LED light bulbs. Want to do your energy bill a world of good? Want to do the environment a world of good? Purchase our 7-watt/450 lumen LED light bulb that replaces up to a conventional 60-watt household light bulb – it is a high-performance bulb that features longer life and significantly lower energy consumption than traditional bulbs.

The EggBot added colorful team logos and mascots to the bulbs... very cool.

Holy Cow, it's fun to watch too!

Fair ladies, at the Fair. When it comes to outreach, marketing, budget, and FIRST passion, these girls are all business! The business of robotics is an idea worth spreading wherever we go.

Terence scored some points hanging inner tubes, then moved to the tower to deploy the mini-bot, CLU.

The deployment arm is out and at the pole, and CLU is beginning its ascent.

These mini-bots are fast, and CLU is tops. Today the mini-bot was making it to the top in under two seconds. The record time for CLU climbing the eight feet is .9 of a second!

Here comes the mini-bot for FIRST 1538, The Holy Cows. They won the Silicon Valley FRC... GO Cows!

Look up!
Mini-Bot time: eight feet in 1:71 seconds

The tower is wired to the computer, which starts the timer and activates the lights at the top of the tower. When the bell rings they release the mini-bot.
CLU is ready to go.

Mini-Bot time: eight feet in 1:61 seconds! That's the fastest mini-bot of the day! w00ts!

Maria came with her Paradox eggs, chocolate eggs.

Maria came with her Paradox spirit, Team San Diego spirit!

Robotics all year. When you are talking about friends and learning, about good times... it just makes sense to keep the good times moving forward.

Sixth grader Jackson, from Scripps Ranch, could not wait to see the student showcase, the FIRST robots, and he especially wanted to learn more about those mini-bots. He says he wants to find an FLL team and join the fun.

FIRST, Team Paradox, the people who come together to learn and play... it is gratifying, it gives hope, it affirms beliefs.

It brings a smile to your face.
We can't help ourselves.
It's that much fun.

One more thing...
Happy Birthday Alex!
It's really kind of super awesome that you are seventeen, this is an incredible time, you are doing the things you are passionate about, have dreamed of... keep on dreaming, keep on believing! I hope you are enjoying life, as much as we are enjoying watching you grow and learn, play and explore! You are a dream coming true.