Hello, Internet! Cole here. The wonderful Christmas season has finally come and gone once again, and we’re all just picking up the pieces now, making what happy memories we can to keep our hearts warm through the biting physical and spiritual cold of January. I’ll do my part to spread the little cheer that remains by describing my own memories of Christmas vacation. This year, I celebrated Christmas by visiting my grandparents in Illinois. This type of vacation is not an uncommon event for me – in fact, it’s been a tradition for some time in our family to visit our grandparents each Christmas season. Nevertheless, a number of elements and events were out-of-the-ordinary this year, enough so that I consider this particular vacation worth writing about.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. It’s been some time now – senior year’s been busy – but I’m finally back to writing for pleasure now. Today, I’d like to review a play I saw in October. Its name was “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, and it was very, very good.
Defeat at District Champs
Hello, Internet! Cole here. I haven’t talked about robotics in a while, so I’m going to revisit it this month. Blue Cheese, Deep Run’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team, still exists, and I’m still part of it. Specifically, I ghostwrite and proofread certain documents related to various awards, such as the Chairman’s Award, a highly prestigious award given to teams who “best represent a model for other teams to emulate and best embody the purpose and goals of FIRST.” I am also part of the Chairman’s team, a subgroup of Blue Cheese dedicated entirely to receiving this particular award. Chairman’s, you see, has its own type of competition within FIRST; the winners of the award at a lower level of competition automatically rise to the next highest level to compete with other winners, meaning a team who wins Chairman’s at a regional competition goes to District Championships and a team who wins at District Championships goes to the World Championship.
March 2018: More Trivia Questions
Hello, Internet! Cole here. Last year, I wrote a brief article in which I responded to a few trivia questions – nothing too special, just an interesting way to show off my views of the world and have fun in the process. This month, I’m going to do the same thing, because as we all know most major publications rely at least in part on creating similarly-themed content for long periods of time.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. This month, I attended Deep Run’s production of the musical version of Footloose. I didn’t expect much out of it; it was a high school play, after all, and I mainly went to obtain a point for National Honor Society. However, I soon discovered that my initial judgment was wrong: the play went excellently, showcasing an interesting plot, above-average acting skills, and a devoted backstage crew.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. Last month, I wrote an article about my vacation to Costa Rica. For the sake of brevity, however, I only wrote about the preceding events and the first day of the adventure. This month, I’ve written about the second day. Enjoy!
Day 2: More Transit
The next day, we packed our bags, ate breakfast at the resort, and got on the bus again. Thirty minutes later, the bus entered a small parking lot at the foot of a hill. After applying bug spray and sunscreen, we began hiking up the hill. Halfway up, Juan led us down a side path to our left. On this new path’s right lay a clear view of Arenal Volcano; on its left grew plantain trees, cacao trees, and sugarcane. We spent thirty minutes listening to Juan’s information about each of these things in turn, and then we used a second side path to reach the top of the hill. The view was quite expansive, so we stopped to take it in and take some photos.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. It’s been a while since I wrote about a robotics competition, so I’ve decided to write about last month’s FIRST (that is, the name of the organization) World Championships. This year, we didn’t perform as well in District and Regional Competitions as we did last year; however, since we won Championships last year, we were allowed to attend this year’s festivities as well. This time, I rode with the rest of the team on the bus instead of traveling by plane with Dad.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. This month, at the request of my beloved matriarch, I’ve decided to try an interesting exercise: I’m going to respond to random questions. Hopefully, my responses will provide insight as to how my brain works; if not, they should at least prove entertaining.
I Read a Book
Hello, Internet! Cole here. Recently, I read a book called Population: One. It was about the author, Tyler McNamer, and his life experiences with Autism. In my opinion, the book needed a bit of work. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t without its share of noticeable problems. Naturally, I’m going to write my thoughts about the book in this article; otherwise, I would have just been wasting words with the other sentences in the article.
November 2016: An Unfortunate Loss
Hello, Internet. Cole here. On the ninth of this month, something alarming happened – something that could greatly change our nation for better or for worse. Depending on who one asks, this event is either a symbol of America’s triumph or its demise. Regardless of opinion, however, many can agree that the repercussions of this event are going to be serious. Since serious things are no fun, however, I’m not going to talk about it. Instead, I’m going to talk about my robotics team’s latest competition, Rumble of the Roads. (Hopefully I’m less likely to be swamped with half of America’s hate this way.)
This competition deserves some introduction, since it wasn’t a normal robotics competition. We were – and currently are – off-season; this means that FIRST isn’t directly hosting any major competitions. Thus, this was much smaller-scale than anything like Worlds. Fewer points were scored overall, and there were only 30 teams, including ourselves. Our own entry into the event was pretty shaky: we were invited by the leaders at the last minute after a large number of teams unexpectedly cancelled. As a result, only 12-16 members attended the event – mostly veterans like myself.
Despite this smaller scale of competition, I still had a good time. The ride there was pretty long, so I passed the time by staring out the window and listening to music. Once there, most of my time was spent alternating between watching from the stands and trying to help the team in the pit. Our robot wasn’t performing well; it often stopped during matches, and it handled very poorly. We were having a lot of technical issues that we couldn’t quite understand – more on that later – so I found myself drawn to the pit on more than one occasion. At lunch, a team member went out and brought us Chick-Fil-A. The food was a bit salty, but adequate.
After the qualifying matches ended, things got… interesting. We discovered that our gearbox, an integral part of our drive train, had one of its axles bent. This was why we couldn’t move properly. In order to even come close to fixing it, we had to take an entire side-plate off of the robot, which put us way behind schedule and caused us to miss our alliance’s first qualifying match. Some members of Triple Helix, another team on our alliance, eventually came and helped us try to fix it. In the end, though, we made only marginal progress and had to send the robot out to the next match at below-average quality. We did… surprisingly well in said match, but it wasn’t enough; the opposing alliance won the quarterfinals, and we were out of the competition proper.
Most of the team, including myself, left after that – it being a relatively minor competition, after all, we had little reason to stay. A few people remained for their own reasons, though, and it ultimately paid off; we ended up winning the Captain’s Award, which is, according to my coach, on par with the Chairman’s Award, and those people got to carry the thing back to PCS.
This excursion could have gone better, to be honest. We were given very short notice on account of being a replacement for another team, and our robot was already battered a bit from a pretty difficult season… the whole scenario sort of lent itself to disaster. I don’t really mind, though – after all, the things that go wrong are more memorable than the things that don’t. Even though we lost, I was satisfied by the competition. Besides, we won an award anyway. Thanks for reading, Internet, and I’ll be seeing ya!
Cole is our young adult monthly contributor. He is an incredible asset to all of us. He is in the IT program in Henrico County, has Asperger’s and is also an animal whisperer.