Monday, May 17, 2010

Improvising for 24 years

Happy Birthday to my Improviser. Wow, I can hardly believe you are 24. It just seems like yesterday that you were running me ragged and making my hair turn gray. You were always the inquisitive one. You took everything apart to see how it was made. You even showed me how to put it back together. You told me I was "doing it a different way". I had to hide the tools from you. A four year old with a screwdriver is a dangerous thing. But, I didn't want to discourage you either. You were my cook. You loved cooking and still do. There were several occasions when you "cooked" by yourself. Oh, the stories if I had a blog and camera back then. There was the time I woke up from your nap to find you "cooking" in the living room. I don't think I ever got the chocolate syrup stains out of the carpet. Or the time I woke up because I rolled on a cold package of ham in my bed. It was 3 or 4 am and again you were "cooking". I found you sitting in the kitchen by the light of the refrigerator. There was a bowl between your stretched out legs and a dozen and a half eggs shells beside you. I forget what all ingredients you used but you were making a cake you told me. You never slept much as a child. I would find you up watching TV at 4 am. You definitely kept me on my toes. There was nothing you couldn't or wouldn't do for yourself. You were constantly surprising me.

I am in awe of your intelligence and ingenuity. There was the time you rigged up a contraption so you didn't have to get out of bed to turn off the lights. You took off the training wheels on your bike and just started riding. You didn't need any assistance. I've watched you through the years and I hope you realize how amazing I think you are.

I love you and I am so proud of the young man you have become. I miss seeing you daily and watching you grow. Happy Birthday.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Robotics class started last night. I am going to love this class. It is all hands on. I have the same teacher for the majority of my classes. Normally, he just reads the book or a powerpoint presentation to us and it is very boring. But, not tonight. He handed out the syllabus told us to Read Chapter One and then gave us handouts on the Robot we are going to be programing. The Robot isn't the latest and greatest but it will suffice for general purposes.

After class was dismissed and the spoiled generation left, three of us older folks ganged up on the teacher and begged him to let us write a quick program. The instigator of this expedition is a guy that was in one of my previous classes. I love being around him. He has such enthusiasm and it just spreads to everyone in his vicinity. My good fortune is he is already a computer programmer. I will have a great advantage having him as my lab partner. Always, he is very encouraging. I guess that comes from being a father of six. The man has patience. Anyway, he I and one other older guy set up the Robotic arm, created a position table and then wrote the code to operate it. We just did a three position move but it was exciting. We had a near miss on the first go around. Our position offset was too low and we barely missed taking out the conveyor belt. We all gasped and laughed. We edited the program and all went well the second go around.

I will look forward to Thursdays for the next 11 weeks.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Essay Question

I'm filling out scholarship forms and as part of the process I have to submit an essay. It has to include the following:

  • Please indicate why you feel a college education is important.
  • Describe your career and educational goals related to your program of study and how you plan to reach them. Also include what, if anything is impeding those goals (i.e. financial burden).
  • Please describe why you are deserving of a scholarship and how it is important to attaining your goals.
  • List any previous activities related to your major (i.e. related volunteer work, freelance work, or participation in related student organizations). Please also describe your work experience.

First off, I hate essays. I hate trying to write what I think people want to hear and that is what they are asking. Plus, it is pressure. I stress doing things like this. The good side is that I am not sitting in a classroom with a clock ticking away. I can't do that. I freak. I panic. I hit meltdown mode.

I read a book recently that suggested if you have difficulty writing start by writing down all your thoughts. All excuses, fears, everything. Just write what comes to mind. Also, don't edit as your writing. Save that for later. I know those suggestions work because my best writings come when I do exactly that. The difficult part is getting in that zone. Everything has to be perfect. Especially my head. That's no easy task.

I started this essay several days ago. I deleted numerous beginnings. I just couldn't get into it. So, I will try to take each part first and then later pull it together into some type of comprehensible rambling. I don't anticipate getting any scholarship but it doesn't hurt to try. The reason I don't feel I will get one is that most of the scholarships are based on ethnics believe it or not. I thought that was discrimination. But, it you are a black female with children, chaching, you are cashing in. I saw ones for Asians, women, Hispanics, and gays too. I did not see a single scholarship for a Caucasian male. They are screwed. Anyways, I'm rambling and avoiding the task at hand.

This is a work in progress. Please feel free to give suggestions for the essay. I appreciate any and all help.

1. Please indicate why you feel a college education is important. (Because I don't want to be a poor, ignorant redneck and do manual labor for the rest of my life. And if you don't have a degree that is what is going to happen. No one promotes someone who isn't educated. That is my truthful answer. But I don't think that is what a review committee is looking for so I'll try to come up with a politically correct beauty contestant answer. Damn, I hate writing what people want to hear when it's just a bullshit answer. I'm a tell it like it is kind of person.)

Knowledge is the only thing in this world that you can acquire and no one can take from you. It is a key that opens doors that otherwise would be forever locked. A college degree indicates to others your dedication to education. It shows that you are not afraid of goals and challenges. It is the end result of hard work and focus.

2. Describe your career and educational goals related to your program of study and how you plan to reach them. Also include what, if anything is impeding those goals (i.e. financial burden).

***I'll pick up here later.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Comings and Goings

Lately my house has had a revolving door. First, my step son was here for a week. He lives in South Florida and was up here for spring break. Bless his heart, he spent most of his time studying for the ACT. He will be graduating from high school and June and then heading straight to Orlando to attend UCF.

Daredevil came home the day Dusty left. In fact, we just swapped kids out at the airport. His visit was bittersweet. He will be leaving for Afghanistan in a few days. There will be a knot in the pit of my stomach for the next seven months. It was a great visit. I love when he sits next to me and puts his head on my shoulder. I live for those moments and will cherish them forever.

He left on a Sunday and then Chowhound arrived the next Wednesday. He is here for a couple more weeks. His next assignment is in Japan.

My children are getting scattered around the world. In a few weeks, Improviser will be the only one still on US soil. He is on a deployment status and can't come home on leave. He may be deployed by the end of the year.

I am proud of my boys but I miss them terribly.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Just Do it

I've been skimming through this book called, "Do it! Let's Get Off Our Buts". I say skimming because I just open it at random and read a section. I do my reading in the bathroom so sometimes a paragraph is all I get to read and other times I manage several pages. You know the drill. I don't have to spell it out.

Anyways, this book has been very interesting. One of the things it says to do is quit rationalizing. But, I'm good at it. I can make a case for everything I do. I can even convince myself it's true. It also says we must move out of our comfort zone. But, But, But...wait. I spent my whole life making my comfort zone perfect. There's a lazy boy and a big screen tv, plenty to eat and drink and no stress. I like it. Yes, that is me rationalizing. The truth is I have come out of my comfort zone quite a bit in my life. In fact, recently, I was way out of it. The engineering drawing class I was taking took me so far out that my inner child took over and poof, it was melt down time. My poor husband saw me in my rarest form. I was slamming my books closed declaring I was out of my mind to think I could do something like this. I got to the point of tears everytime I got near the class room. I couldn't even ask the teacher for help. I didn't think he would understand why a middle aged woman was crying over homework assignment. Geez. It was a rough couple of weeks. I managed to suck it up enough to call a wonderful friend who talked me through it like I was one of her kids. It was the hand I needed to get over the wall. Once, I hurdled over that obstacle, it clicked. My comfort and confidence came back. I had fun doing the final projects and I am proud of my work.

The comfort zone knows us intimately and hits us at our weakest point. It wouldn't dream of using an excuse we could see through. It uses the reasons we find reasonable, the rationales we find rational (the rational lies), the realizations we find most real (real lies). It takes our greatest aspirations and turns them into excuses for not bothering to aspire.
Damn comfort zone. I hate being uncomfortable but I hate being stagnate even worse. The road less traveled always brings adventure.

I once complained to my father that I didn't seem to be able to do things the same way other people did. Dad's advice? "Margo don't be a sheep. People hate sheep. They eat sheep. (Margo Kaufman)

I'll remember that quote the next time I hear, "You're doing it backwards!" That is the phrase I hear most often. I hear it at work all the time. My grandmother even said those same words when she was attempting to teach me to knit. My engineering drawing teacher shook his head as he uttered those words. He said, "Technically, it's correct but it's a mirror image. I don't know how you did it but it's completely backwards."

I'm convinced I'm right and the rest of the population are just brainwashed.