Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Make It So

Fallen Trees
I always loved that moment in Star Trek: Next Generation when Jean Luc Picard (sexiest star ship captain ever) would say:  "make it so."  Because, inevitably, it would be so.

A while back, I penned a post, Pillbox Fill: An Idea for the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition, that focused on creating a robotics competition that would raise intergenerational awareness.  For those of you who don't follow Robotics, the First Robotics competition is for high school aged kids.  Every year, teams from all over the world wait anxiously to learn what the next year's challenge will be.  They get their boxes filled with parts and then they build robots and then they compete in a raucous, controlled chaos fashion.

The central tenant of the post was that FIRST, which had been founded by Dean Kamen, should build a robotics competition wrapped in a social frame.  Specifically. I wanted a competition centered around older adults and activities of daily living.  Like Jean Luc Picard, I threw out an idea for a game but really left it to others to figure out how to "make it so."

Today, my brother forwarded me a notice about the First Lego League competition (FLL) and they did!   Make it so, that is.   Some housekeeping, FLL is also a FIRST program that is targeted at middle schoolers and which has a part of its mission that the challenges introduce kids to potential careers.

But back to that all important idea of making it so.  The Senior Solutions Challenge is everything that I asked for and then some.  My favorite part?  Every team has to identify a senior partner, get to know that person, learn what challenges they are facing, and then come up with a solution to that challenge.  All this on top of a robotics competition that is centered around missions focused on the themes of independence, engagement, and connection.  Themes that are incredibly important to older adults.  As delineated in the robotics game instructions:

"In the Senior Solutions robot game, you and your robot will manage a mix of challenges and activities related to being independent, engaged, or connected. None of them really has to do with being “old,” but a few of them have a harder version and an easier version. As you notice how much harder the hard versions are, and design your robot to master them, imagine what innovative technical designs and improvements you could make in real life that would make life easier for seniors – for your loved ones, and for your future self!"

Unlike Jean Luc Picard, I can not claim cause (my blog post) and effect (the Senior Solutions Challenge) -- there are a lot of smart people out there that think about robotics competitions a whole lot more than I do.  Nor do I want to.

I just think it is so cool that there is a competition that has middle school kids thinking about solutions for the challenges of aging and opening their eyes to careers focused on helping older adults.  

Kudos to @Firstlegoleague for making it so!

Coronado at Sunset

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

After the Storm

Fallen Ginkgoes
I have this knack for being out of town when major weather hits and Super Storm Sandy was no exception.  As she barreled down on New York  City,  I was already safely out in southern California for a meeting.  And, there I stayed through Sunday, November 4th.  I returned to two New Yorks -- the upper West side where my apartment was unscathed and the South Street Seaport area where the building housing our offices is down and out for the count.

Uptown, Central Park saw some damage from the storm but they were well on their way to cleaning it up in preparation for running the 2012 NYC Marathon.  Although the official marathon was canceled, people showed up dressed to run it and with personal support crews in tow.  And run it they did even as the City began to break down the finish line.

Downtown, we'd been grappling with office displacement since the storm of the century ended and we were already up and running with web mail by the time I returned to the East coast.  The building is going to take a bit longer but they are working hard to repair the damages from the flooding.  In the meantime we went on an expedition today to retrieve several servers -- trudging up 18 floors to do so.  By tomorrow, we should have access to all data.  

All in all, we escaped quite lightly and count ourselves among the lucky.  Herewith a few photos from Central Park and today's expedition downtown.

Impromptu NYC Marathon - November 4, 2012

 .....the finish line (this is the closest I've ever been on marathon Sunday)....

How to Take Your Owner for a Walk

Sadly, Some Trees Were Down in Central Park

Given how much had already been cleaned up, it's hard to know how much damage there was in Central Park.  2011's October snow and hurricane Irene had both brought down a number of trees as did the micro burst that swept across the north end of the park in 2010.

South Street Seaport and Surrounds

There was a bustle of activity at Abercrombie & Fitch...

Otherwise the seaport was quiet today with stores and restaurants having an abandoned forlorn feel to them.  It was clear that some had started the long road to clean up as in this restaurant...

Others had merely boarded up their windows or maybe hadn't even stopped by at all.  The green/yellow placards indicate that a building has restricted access...

On Water Street, a lone worker wiped off cosmetics in the Duane Reade...

And another sat in a Starbucks  -- hopefully planning a comeback because that is the closest one to our office....

They had blocked off the section of the seaport closest to the river -- making for interesting patterns...

Lots of debris coming out of buildings.....

This orphan chair outside our loading dock (perchance Kenny's (who kept watch through the storm and has been tirelessly working to clean up our building?)...

The tourists are back in force...

St. Paul's Chapel - Trinity Church
A quiet place to end a walk through an area that was clearly hit hard but that is already coming back.  There was just a bit of damage along one side of the fence.  It remains a peaceful oasis.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Letter to My Niece

African Assortment
Recently, I was asked by one of my nieces to write a letter for her "Me Book" - something she had been assigned to create in class.  This is what I wrote.

October 2012 

Elephant Cheeks
I am writing this during a chaotic time for our country.  And I keep thinking about the young women in my life and what I’d like for each of you.  I want you to grow up in a Society where your work is equally valued as that of a man and you are in charge of your own body.   There needs to be a safety net that can catch you if you stumble and fall.  Most of all, I want you to live in a Society that embraces diversity and revels in the strength that brings us as a nation.

You may have noticed that this is typed and not handwritten.  I am a person who treasures the freedom a keyboard gives me to write, to edit, and to write again.  It is true that I grew up in an era where we put pen to paper.  I progressed in school from print to cursive and learned to type on both manual and electric typewriters.  I didn’t get my own computer until I was in my 30s and now I can’t remember what my life was like before I had one.  It amazes me that things I used to spend hours researching in card catalogues and on microfiche can now be found with a few well-crafted search terms and Google.  It was a foreordained conclusion that this letter would be typed.  And that was before I fell off a chair, broke my wrist, and acquired a pretty blue cast.

Cheetah Brothers
But enough about me – this letter is supposed to be about you!  It is after all going into your “Me Book.” 

So, I have this Board on Pinterest that is called Words to Live By and I’m gathering quotes that I really like.  There are any number that would fit this letter but I really, really like Christopher Robin’s advice to Pooh.

Always remember…

You’re Braver than You Believe
How does this translate to you?  No, it’s not about the spiders!  It’s about taking a deep breath and moving ahead even when you are afraid or just a tiny bit nervous.  It’s about being you even IF that makes you different from everyone else around you.  It’s about standing up for what you believe to be right.  Embrace your life – for that is what it is, your life. 

Live It.  Love It!

You’re Stronger than You Seem
Step into the Fire
The great thing about Winnie the Pooh is that he always managed to get out of whatever kerfuffle he found himself in.  That’s because he had inner strength.  Draw on your inner strength in times of adversity – it will see you through.  Do you remember that first time you trusted yourself on a bike with out training wheels?  Dove head first into the water?  Gave an oral report in class?   You may not believe this but those all required strength.  They required a will to succeed.  They required you to believe, “I can do this.”

Yes you can.  You can do whatever you need to do.  You are strong.

You Are Smarter than You Think
OK, this is not meant to say that you are smarter than everyone else around you!  A part of being smart is knowing that we each bring different strengths to the table.  Being smart is as much about knowing what your own strengths are.  In a nutshell, being smart enough to know who you are.  Right now, you are knee deep in learning.  Make sure to press your teachers so that you learn how to think critically.  Teach yourself to break information down and put it back together again.   Knowing facts is great – knowing how to put them together is another thing altogether.  Making the leap to a new idea or a new way of seeing an issue or to creating a piece of art?  Priceless!

I have another Board on Pinterest, iLive that is a random collection of things – bits of flotsam and jetsam from my life.  Sayings I like.  There is a Zen saying there – “Leap and the net will appear.”  Remember that when you are contemplating an adventure, picking a college, deciding whether (and WHO!) to marry, deciding whether to have kids – most importantly when deciding how to live your life.

There are a few things that Christopher Robin did not tell Pooh that are REALLY important for you to know.

Always remember to find the fun in every moment.  Remember to laugh at yourself.  Remember that the most important words for you to live by are:

“I am me and I love who I am.”

Lions of the Serengeti