The parents are trying to kill me. It all started a few days ago. I was just minding my own business when Mommy pulled out a piece of paper and started wiping my nose. Now, I admit, my nose was feeling a bit funny, so I let her do it. Before I know it, she’s pulling out this “medicine” stuff. “It’ll make you feel better,” she said.

Surprisingly, it tasted really good, which should have been my first warning sign. I never get anything that tastes really good without begging for it. It was okay at first, but the next morning my throat started to hurt really bad. I still didn’t see the connection, even when Mommy insisted that I take more “medicine”. Now my throat and my nose are hurting even more. My tummy doesn’t feel good, and I can barely eat anything. It’s official: The parents have poisoned me. Farewell to all of my loyal readers. Remember me fondly.

The New House

I moved to a new house! Apparently Mommy and Daddy didn’t like it, though, because we moved back to the old one again.

It was a lot bigger than this house, but for some reason we only went into a few of the rooms. Maybe if we’d lived there longer I would have gotten to visit the rest of them. One small room had buttons on the wall that Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t let me touch. The problem is, there was something structurally wrong with that room. At times it felt like the floor was falling out from under me. I did not like that. Also, I don’t know why we even bothered going to that room, since Mommy and Daddy just stood there until the door opened and we left again. That’s probably what made them decide to move back here.

The room we spent most of our time in had a great toy telephone. It was so cool. It had way more buttons than my phones here at the old house, and when I pressed the big red button at the bottom this guy’s voice started talking. It seemed really great, but then Daddy pulled its plug and it stopped talking before I could investigate further.

The nice thing about our new house was all the cars that passed by the window. At that house there were more cars in a minute than I see in a week here, coming from every direction. All kinds of cars. Big ones. Ones with flashing lights. It was great fun, and I made sure to tell Mommy and Daddy whenever I saw one. I could have watched them all day, but for some reason Daddy wanted to leave.

In fact, we didn’t spend much time at the new house. As soon as I woke up Daddy wanted to go to some other big building. I don’t know what he was so excited about, but he’d stay there forever. We’d only get back to the new house when it was time for bed.

I miss my new house.

Steamworks – Week 1

The Krypton Cougars are back in action. After their banner performance last year, the students were eager to learn from their mistakes and made an exhaustive list of everything they wanted to do better, presumably so they could pointedly ignore it.

Last year the battery was very hard to replace, causing much frustration during and after the competition season. One student ended up becoming the designated battery installation expert, and that could only be done in a timely manner if the robot was held up in the air. For 2017, the team decided that wasn’t nearly difficult enough, and buried the battery even deeper in the depths of the robot. It now requires two or three students to replace a battery, after moving multiple robot mechanisms out of the way.

Last year the team divided their focus between too many things, and vowed this season they would streamline aggressively. When the game was revealed, the first meeting was to discuss what game elements the team would target and which they would ignore. The team decided that the fractional point value of fuel made it unnecessary, and that the forty-point gears and fifty-point climbing were much more important. They then spent half of build season designing a hopper and loader for fuel. Which leads us to the next improvement…

Last year the robot was not mechanically completed until the last moment. The programmers were forced to program on the car ride to the competition. We agreed that this year we’d finish all mechanical changes at least a week before the end of build season, giving our programmers and drivers the time they needed. Naturally, the mechanical team decided that prototyping the fuel hopper system took priority over programming and driver practice, leaving the programmers to test their changes in the gaps. An additional motor was added to the robot, for the hopper, the night the team arrived at the competition, which the programmers did not find out about until the night before. It was programmed at the competition. The drivers got no practice time. Continue reading →