Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring, It Sprung!


Happy Spring!

Did it surprise you?
It surprised me.
I saw it coming, but then I kind of missed the spring-eve anticipation, and then this morning WhAm! It's Spring.

You'd think, with no less than three calendars hanging in just one corner of the Bird House, I would be up on these things. Our calendars mostly say : Robotics. Go to... robotics. Meet for... robotics. Take dinner to... robotics. Make reservations for... robotics.

So, signs of spring must be elsewhere... let's see...


Hmmm... we cannot get enough.
I took almost every post I ever wrote about robotics and put them all in one post, so that it is like a massive Robotics index for Chickenblog. It was pretty much a nightmare trying to make the code work, because I am pretty much an amateur when it comes to code. But I keep trying.

And Maria... she's learning code. Look at all the words she is writing. Her writing skills are springing! I love our message board.

But, spring is outdoors. Right? Nature. So, outside I went, in search of the new season.


Ah, the morning light, the glistening dew. Here is spring. In the flowers. In the air.


And I saw the calla lilies, and Chango reposing in the garden bed. I thought how idyllic and good nature is, how lovely the forms and lines, the rhythm of the new day. And I was totally getting poetic and reveling in the nature high, and this seemed like a good time to photograph Chango. He was there, still and content... what a perfect opportunity to capture the essence of spring.

But.
Nature.
Nature is brutal.
I mean, come on... poetry, and dew drops on lilies... it's real nice, but nature has all kinds of plans and devices.
I'm just saying...


Chango?
Chango, what are you... ?
Nooooo!
Don't eat nature Chango, not spring. Not the very emblem of cute, fluffy-tailed baby spring.

Okay.
Go back inside everyone.
Come on.
Spring is inside.
Let's go.


Blinded by grief, I point my camera in all directions, looking for something lovely to erase the graphic nature of events I have witnessed. Pictures of my ranchero boys. Happy memories of springs past, elotes, beseros, y sombreros. My thrift shop find, a sleek red handbag... perfect for no occasion I am likely to enjoy, but I like the possibility.

Then, salvation. Bill is sending me real life nature pictures. Action shots from Soquel-Cal, where the dear and the antelope play. The dear are my nephew and niece, Dominic and Marissa.


Ah, Nature. Here is Nature. At the lumberyard and garden center.

Thank goodness.


Bill says these reindeer are pretty wild, like buckin' reindeer. Seriously. You have to hang on for eight seconds. Don't get bucked off.

I'm telling you, Nature is brutal.
And spring, spring will spring on you.
You gotta be ready.
Just sayin'.

You're probably thinking I am trying to "look busy," just because Geoff says "Before we go to robotics, we should clean."

Spring Cleaning.
Brutal.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

And Now I am Mucking Around With The Code. This could IS Disastrous


Poor Chcikenblog Chickenblog, it has me for an administrator. So while some blogs have new headers that change with the holidays and passing seasons, we have a classic, timeless look (read: My dear sister-in law gave me this cool header and I still have not learned how to update these things.) While some blogs include graphics, icons, buttons and catchy ads, Chickenblog is sleek and streamlined (read: Who'd want to advertise here? Seriously, anyone? Hello?) There are blogs with multiple pages and internal links... well, I just tried to forge something like an internal link and I think I may have mucked things up but good. I am so unskilled. I am the Patron Saint of Mediocrity. My effort ----> effectiveness---->results = dismal


All of these failings are bad enough, but up next is a migration from using Blogger's FTP to publish Chickenblog to something else. I am already giving up on trying to explain this... how can I explain something I do not understand, right? What I do know is that if I do not make the switch, the upgrade, the migration, then *poof* no more Chickenblog.

Excuse me a moment, while I cry.

Geoff assures me he will make everything work.


And he will. No matter how long it takes. No matter how many time he has to be on hold with someone in Bangalore, he will save Chcicken Chickenblog. But I wish it were me. I wish I could wrap my head around the ins and outs of the World Wide Interwebs, the mysteries of code and publish, domains, URLs, FTPs... and trust me, I do try. But when I try, I get the kind of mess I made just now, and trust me it is ugly. So, I have to leave it the pro. It's a small comfort to my self esteem that it is no slam dunk for him. He's not looking forward to the task ahead. Don't tell him I said so, but I probably should make him chile rellenos to show my gratitude. It's the least I can do.

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Robotics :: 2102 Team Paradox
This is an index for all things robotic, from the archives of Chickenblog.

Home School Science Fair: Alex's Tank-Bot: May 30, 2008. Alex challenged himself to make a robot from found objects and thrift shop salvaging. Then presented the results in a science fair.

The Best Made Plans: January 3, 2009. Alex attends his first FRC kick-off. Lunacy.

The Team To Cheer For: February 15, 2009. Introducing FIRST and 2102 Team Paradox to Chickenblog.

I Don't Have Time For This: March 5, 2009. Alex gets in to SDA. Life and details at the end of his first build season.

Brains and Spirit: March 7, 2009. Reporting from San Diego FRC, after 2102 takes The Team Spirit Award.

Up-up And Away! March 8, 2009. Very early the next morning, after SD FRC, I fly to Barcelona as an advanced scout for our summer family adventure. I will return in time to drive to Phoenix for an other FRC.

Oh. My. Goodness.: March 22, 2009. Phoenix FRC and a second Team Spirit Award.

Navigation, Forward Momentum and Balance: March 25, 2009. Life and details after Phoenix, and Alex's ride on a Segway, courtesy of Steve Sanghi, president, chairman and CEO of Microchip Technology Inc.

The Many Facets of Geekdom: January 10, 2010. Launch of build season for Breakaway. And getting Chickenblog organized for Geeks and Robotics.

After Breakfast, Before Robotics: February 12, 2010. Alex takes a quick break from robotics to attend the Sky Consortium Ball.

Look At Me Still Talking When There's Science To Do: February 16, 2010. Deep in build season, and enjoying the ride. Karen, Natalie and Tom grill lunch for the team. Life and details from the Bird House.

Me, Like A Chickadee: February 20, 2010. A good look at Geoff's programming and drive stations. He built them as programming mentor, so he could work more hours, more productively. Go Robotics!

It's In The Crate: February 23, 2010. Last night and morning of build season, before robot is crated and sent to San Diego Sports Arena.

BREAKAWAY! March 5, 2010. The eve before competition in San Diego.

Mini Parrot-Ox: March 6, 2010. From the first day of San Diego FRC, documenting Maria's team building skills.

More Than Spirit!!!!! March 6, 2010. Slowly realizing all of the merits of 2102 Team Paradox winning the Award for Engineering Inspiration.

This Is Big: March 7, 2010. Chickenblog celebrates 2102 Team Paradox and the invitation to compete in Atlanta.

This Is Getting Bigger: March 8, 2010. More about the Team, and FIRST, as Chickenblog rallies support for going to Nationals in Atlanta.

Paradox Colors: March 10, 2010. Describing FIRST Robotics, FRC and the personal journey 2102 Team Paradox takes to get to a regional competition. Maria and team mascots, a spirited relationship.

Robotics, 2102 Team Paradox: March 11, 2010. This is the internal index for most robotics posts in Chickenblog.

Faith, Family, and FIRST: March 12, 2010. What I love about 2102 Team Paradox and FIRST.

We Keep Springing Forward: March 24, 2010. A robotics introduction with Spencer and Cristina, before the NBC feature later in the week.

Big News Day: March 25, 2010. The Team, in pictures, the day of the NBC News in the Morning coverage.

Sadistics Statistics: March 30, 2010. A small pity party about declining readers of Chickenblog... who wouldn't want to read endless posts about robots?!

Family First: April 4, 2010. A love letter to my family, after FRC Las Vegas.

Something Beautiful: April 5, 2010. My favorite FRC Las Vegas moment, a positive spin on a difficult weekend.

Next Stop, Atlanta: April 14, 2010. Get everything packed and on the plane for FIRST Atlanta Championship.

FIRST in My Heart: April 20, 2010. An initial attempt to summarize the awesomeness of Atlanta FIRST Championship, and my renewed enthusiasm for FIRST.

Dear Atlanta, I think I Love You: April 21, 2010. Atlanta plays gracious host to FIRST and 2102 Team Paradox.

Top Ten Indicators You Need a Break From BREAKAWAY: April 23, 2010. Reflecting on some FIRST humor, and my own robo-obsession.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Never Give Up, Never Surrender


When I put those words on Chickenblog, in my profile, it wasn't because I am chronically optimistic, or whole heartedly ambitious, or even particularly perky. For me, Never give up, never surrender, is more than a great movie line... it's a great reminder of what I am striving for. I want to be resilient and daring, I want to overcome obstacles and navigate rough water. And when I lose my way, or get knocked down, I want to believe that those words will rise in my mind, and spirit, and get me on my feet again. I need support. I need encouragement. I need affirmations. Left to my own devices, I am a bit too attracted to feh and meh.


This has been a bad week. Not fatal. Not devastating. Just bad, which is not good. Know what I mean? Hmmm... just admitting this, actually makes it seems a bit better... less bad. Cool.

I was in the yard yesterday and from our bedroom upstairs, I heard Maria's rescue me now cry. I bolted in to the house and flew up the stairs. And even though I was flying, somehow I managed to tear the thingy that makes the calf muscle stick to the thing, which is in my leg... not sure if it was the gastrocnemius or the soleus. I am quite certain it was the one that lets you freely put your own weight down on your leg, which I can longer do. My leg screams at me, then goes floppy. Maria fell though a chair that broke, and scraped her back. Between my wincing and her crying, we were quite a pair.


Geoff is not working one hundred hours/week, and we are all getting reacquainted, which is good, but not as easy as it might sound. Post-crunch mode is always a bit of an adjustment, a combination of recovery and realigning. And now we have a secondary and almost equally consuming project... a little something we call Robotics!!!! Man, I love robotics. Man, do I need a robotics break. Mostly though, I love robotics. Geoff is logging some serious hours as programming mentor, and you may have noticed I have added my unique, sincere, amateur touches here and there. Anyway, our family-domestic Bird House Rhythm is kind of on hold, which is not easy. It might help if there ever was a Family-Domestic Bird House Rhythm, but whatever, it will happen. Right? It's not too late. I am really hoping it's not too late.

Okay. What was my point?


I am taking the high road. My complaints and laundry list of bad week evidence are done. I will leave the rest unsaid. I am going to accentuate the positive. I am going to make that leap of faith, and believe that if I do not give up, if I do not surrender, that we will be alright. We will find the way to heal, and to grow, to learn, to make do, to feel good, be good, and do good. Affirmations, jokes, hugs, band-aids, faith, sweat, Lexulous, and signs of spring... those blossoms of hope, love and courage... those are what I am going to focus on. Maybe especially Joe's nose. Look at it. It makes me feel better already.


Flowers are blooming, even a rose. Betty is happy. The cats are alive, and they are happy too. The children keep working, and learning, and making me proud. Geoff found the Tylenol. Delia and Ron will be in Vegas. William was offered a paying job, from his good work at his volunteer job. Alex recognized Japanese words and phrases when we watched a movie in Japanese. Max makes awesome wishes. Maria is writing and reading words (her own name, Max, Izzy, love, and more). The rainy season is mostly over and the leak in our roof didn't get too bad. Good stuff. Yup.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She Has Not Learned A Thing

Yes. It's time for another edition of What Not To Wear I Wore It

Why? Because I do not seem to be getting the message about personal appearance, pride, dignity, pretty & casual vs. pretty casual.

To be fair, and to assure my mom that I do try: I am not a morning person to begin with, and the government's insistence that playing with our clocks twice a year "is necessary," really messes with my already hampered routine.


Speaking of hampered, despite appearances, none of these clothes was pulled from a hamper. I did sleep in the red, floral pajama bottoms and a tank. The flip-flops I added, after I got up. Even the kitty shoes could not have helped this ensemble. Thank goodness I have some sense of modesty, propriety... I grabbed Geoff's, clean, shirt from the dryer on my way out the door. I think it helped. Or did it?

Nothing was brushed. Not my hair. Not this image. Not my teeth.

Alex and Max are grateful to be getting a ride to school. Okay, Max does cringe sometimes, and I know I can make him really nervous if I ask about coming out of the car to meet his friends. Betty does not care what I look like when I come to feed her.

But this is a pointless survey. Asking two boys and a chicken whether I am "presentable" is hardly worthy evidence in a trial of my grooming habits and personal appearance.

What I really should be taking in to account is that I know people in this town, more every day. And I am very likely to cross paths with these people. And even though our clothes and pedicures are a superficial layer, their effect and impression can be anything but superficial. Like it or not, (and I am lecturing myself here, so feel free to leave. Go see if Ree has a new donut recipe or something. Don't tell me though. About the donuts. I don't need to know.)

... where was I? Oh, yes...


Like it, or not, Natalie, you have got to... to...

Hold on.
I am trying to put this the right way.

Natalie. Shape up. Long walks. Small meals. Buy an alarm clock. Use it.
Please see an optometrist... for goodness sake... thread-repaired glasses from 1994 are wrong. Leave your husband's shirts in his side of the closet.
And one more thing, and please don't take this the wrong way,
but maybe you don't need to share *everything* in Chickenblog.
Just saying.
Love, Your Inner Voice

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Funniest Great White Chicken With Dreadlocks


Yes, the "funniest," "great white" "chicken" with "dreadlocks" was reportedly seen wearing "snake stomping boots" at the "Chicken Blog Worst Mommy Blogging Contest." Anyone feverishly searching for these key phrases may, or may not, have found everything they were looking for here, at Chickenblog.

Other key phrase searches include:

"Star Wars Lego People"
"Chicken Polish" ( the breed, I hope, and not a cleaning product)
"Fall and Can't Get Up"
"Fairies"
and "Sparkle Me Clean"


I think anyone searching for "dreadlocks" or "sparkle me clean" had to have left sorely disappointed.

Have you guessed? I decided to dance around in the blog stats... a mine field of ego crushing numbers and facts related to how many people read the blog, where they come from, what they like, and what they were actually looking for.



Staying Long?
No wonder there are so few comments. 83.3% of visitors to Chickenblog stay less than 30 seconds.
I guess it doesn't take long to figure out that I am not going to help anyone 'sparkle clean.'

Building a TreeHouse?
Oh. I bet people are hoping to get treehouse tips, not realizing that these posts are about our days renting a house that was surrounded by trees, where we felt like we were living perched in a treehouse.
Sad note... the landlord built his Tuscan dream home there and took out every single beautiful, mature, lovely tree. It looks like somebody dropped stucco on Isengard.

Chcieken
Huh?
Just kidding. I could never harass someone for misspelling chcieken. I misspell chieken every single time. Ironic, don't you think? So, if you are looking for chieken, then welcome!

Dude, change your thesis.
Who was trying to score information for their term paper?
"... related studies and literature of a roasted chicken and who discovered the roasted chicken"
Let me help... I may have a few servings of Roasted Chicken literature:

Shakespeared: From roasted chickens we desire increase,
That thereby dinner's rose might never die...

John Rooster Milton: A good roast chicken is the precious lifeblood of a blogger spirit.

Mary Hen Shelley: It is a farce to call any roast chicken virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own seasonings.

Shockingly, there are very, very, very few people who come around Chickenblog looking for information on robotics, or building robotics, robotic competitions, or what to wear to a robotic competition, or how to get to a FRC.

Why Tuesday?
This post might not be read by anyone. Tuesdays are the busiest days, with the most visits to Chckinblog Chickenblog.


Maria wrote her name. I do not know who wrote the quote, but I find it applicable and comforting.

I'll see you tomorrow.

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