Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy is the boy who builds a robot

The robotics club KING TeC (don't ask me why they employ the uneven capitalization), of which Matt is a part, recently had its award banquet. I was happy to go. I like going to school things like this where I can watch Matt interact with his friends while I eat. (They usually have really good cookies at these school club award banquets). It's a play date for teenagers.

It was really long (3 hours). Thank goodness I brought my knitting. Matt got two awards, one for being a reliable FLL (I have no idea what that stands for) mentor. I do know that meant that he got an award for coming in on Tuesdays during the fall and helping one of the freshman FTC teams build their bot. He also got an award for Critical Support with regards to the FRC robot--the big guy, "Sir Percival." He was the parts guy. The mother of one of the Robotics team captains told me that her son said Matt was the best parts maker on the team. If you wanted a part done right the first time, you asked Matt to make it. High praise for the Budgie.

He also lettered! I think Robotics is Matt's niche. I asked him what part he worked on, and he said, "Most of them." Other people planned the design (Matt did some help with that), but he made a lot of the parts.

The robot was built to stack recycling containers up to 5 high with a garbage can on top. The robot did pretty well and at the last competition, it was also able to grab two garbage containers and pull them towards their side so the competition couldn't get at them. 

It's a tall bot

Matt worked on these parts

And this part

And that part. (and the wheels which he said were boogers to work on. And they had to take them on and off when unpacking and packing it)
This bot will probably be at the MN State Fair sometime in August. I think I will have to go see it in action. I haven't ever been to a bot meet. I have watched the drivers practice with it though. Fun to watch!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cat in the box

Servo has been in a box all day. I tried to get him out of the box, but he, even in his post-surgical state, jumped out of my arms and back into the box. He normally does like an occasional box-sit session, but he's never had one of this length. I'm blaming it on his shirt. He has to wear a shirt until May 17 to protect the stitches from the removal of the giant cyst of grossness on his shoulder. That cyst was literally a handful. It was gross to look at, gross to touch, and gross to even think about. Now the gross cyst has been replaced by 5 heavy duty stitches in a cut 5 inches long on shaved kitty skin. He hates the shirt I'm making him wear. He hated the other two I sewed for him as well, hated them enough to lick them to death. I have modified this latest version so that he can't unravel it (it's made out of ribbing) and he's mad at me. I tried taking it off him for just a little bit, but he immediately started hacking at his stitches until I fed him a bit of tuna. Then I put the shirt back on.

By the way, the box is on the couch. I put it there so it wouldn't be on the floor.
There's the box. That is not Servo, that is Magic, who has been hanging around the box all day. I think he knows that Servo isn't quite right and Magic feels bad for him.

Here is Servo in his shirt which he hates.
I would like to attach wheels to the box and take the cat/box out around the neighborhood for a walk.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

De plane!

I'm still thinking about the trip. I got an email message from Captain Bob, the owner of the boats, asking how we liked the tour. I gave him a glowing review on tripadvisor. It really was a good time. The tours are designed for cruisers, so they try to pack the sights and the snorkeling all into a specific length of time. We weren't limited by time, but 6 hours cruising on a speedboat was enough.

The last bit of the tour is the jet flyover at Maho Beach. We had stopped at some resort beach that had such clear blue water, but we were only there a minute (and already one guy had jumped off the boat into the water), when our captain, Roddick (a French person), looked over his shoulder and shouted out, "The plane is coming! If you want to see it come in, we have to get going!" (all with an outrageous French accent) Everyone, including the guy already in the water, agreed we wanted to haul boat butt over to Maho for the flyover. The swimmer climbed back in the boat and we took off for Maho. It sure was a speed boat. Roddick handled it well, though, and we plowed to a stop in the middle of Maho Bay while the plane was still just a small dot in the sky. Personally, I don't know how he saw it that first time, but we were all glad he did, because it was AWESOME.

The metal bars belong to the little boat top.

This is the underside of a plane. It was SO CLOSE.
That is me in the water. Yes, I was there.

Happy day! We love being on a speed boat!

Oh, the water, the beautiful, clear, turquoise water! Isn't that like the prettiest color in the whole world?

The French person, aka Captain Roddick

The radar thingie at the airport/beach

An airplane's butt

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thursday on St Maarten, wherein I attempted to snorkel

One thing we didn't do when we went to Florida Keys back in 2013 is go boating or snorkeling. I take that back, we did travel on the catamaran to Fort Jackson, Dry Tortugas. But we didn't snorkel, and while we were at Fort Jackson, I was sort of jealous of the people I saw snorkeling. They said it was great fun and they saw all sorts of neat (and even keen) things.

Well, dangit, while on the island, we were going to snorkel, even if it killed me, and I was worried that it would. I do love being in the water, but I wasn't sure I could handle the mask and snorkel; that I would feel claustrophobic, or that it would bug me not to breathe with my nose. But I thought I wanted to try anyway. Jim, who doesn't much like being in large bodies of water, said he would try it too, even though I gave him an out by saying I wouldn't be offended or think anything of him staying in the boat.

Jen and Mike recommended a day trip that included snorkeling with Soualiga Tours and we signed up.

And it turned out to be the best day ever.

See that little speed boat on the left? That was our vehicle for the day. One captain, and three other couples besides ourselves. Despite the free all you can drink beer on board, no one got drunk. Yay!

Jim and I sat in the back of the boat and since the water was choppy and the front of the boat went up and down a heckuva lot more than the back, I was glad we sat in the back. On the other hand, the back of the boat was subject to large sprays of seawater. So we were soaked and my eyes stung from the saltwater.  I was determined to have a good time, so I didn't let myself care about getting wet--we were going snorkeling later and we would be getting wet then anyway. As for the stinging eyes, eventually, that went away.

(I just went through all the pictures we took during the boat trip and I'm going to have to break it up into several posts)

We finally got to Tintamarre Island where our first snorkel adventure would be. I was afraid to jump into the water, which surprised me a little. But this snorkeling adventure was about doing something fun that I hadn't done before, and if I was going to do it, I had to get over myself and jump in. So I did, and I lived. Yay for me!  Jim also lived! Yay for Jim!

Putting my face in the water and breathing through the snorkel tube sent me into a bit of a panic (complete with thrashing arms and flailing finned feet) at first, but I found that concentrating on breathing for a few seconds made the panic go away. Then I could enjoy myself.

It was so peaceful staring into the world under the waves. We saw a sea turtle and many fish. All the noise was deadened while my head was underwater, so unless I was staring at the halves of people under the water, I kind of forgot they were there. I managed two decent pictures with my underwater camera (and many more sucky ones). Actually these are pretty sucky too, but at least you can tell what I was pointing the camera at.

The second place we snorkeled at was Creole Rock. We only had half an hour at each place, not nearly enough time as I would have liked to spend (but there were other things to do and they were fun too). I took one fairly decent picture here (and as before, many more terrible ones):
I like that fishy. I think I will name him Ralph.
And here is one of Creole Rock:

I have decided that I want snorkel gear for my birthday or Christmas. And I plan to go on a snorkeling vacation (doesn't have to be St. Maarten, I would settle for the Keys again) someday. I could spend all day paddling about with a pool noodle tucked under my arms (that's what Jim and I did so we didn't have to pay attention to not sinking), a snorkel mask on my face, and my face pointed down in the water.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The restaurant at the middle of the alley

Panoramic photo of Nettle Beach. Such relax........

Happy selfie...waiting for more French food

Sunset view from the restaurant in Grand Case

Happy Jim

our table was right up against the railing, which was right on the sand, not 15 feet from the ocean

panoramic pic of sunset

dessert, a profiterole  SO DELICIOUS

moonlight on the deck of the villa

I thought I would start off with pictures. We spent Wednesday walking around Phillipsburg. I'll have more picrures of Phillipsburg later because we went back on Friday. The big deal of this day was the dinner in Grand Case. Our guide book says that Grand Case is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. For such a dinky little town that is difficult to get into (seriously we took wrong turns several times), the title is well-deserved. The only issue we had was that at the time we wanted to eat, most of the restaurants were closed. I swear we are old people. We were looking around for places to eat along the alleyway that serves as the main road through the heart of Grand Case around 5 but most of them didn't open until 6:30. We finally found an open restaurant, actually the guy found us and lured us in with promises of jumbo shrimp. The minute he said shrimp, I was practically sitting down. The food was heavenly. I had a risotto that I wish went on forever. And the scallops and shrimp were perfect. Jim had ribs. For dessert, we shared a profiterole.
The restaurant itself was a lovely little place with a host who was happy to have us there. The server was funny too--Jim reached over to the water bottle to pour himself another glass and she rushed over and said, "Step away from the water!" She was so eager to be of service. I felt like we should have been celebrating a major anniversary with the view, the food and the service.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Orient Beach

On Tuesday I actually spent the morning in the seminar for dental practice management. It was very good, especially the presentation from the guy who had gone to jail for insurance fraud--his presentation was "Stay Out of Jail". He taught us all how not to get caught at it (HA not really). I tried very hard not to make jokes about everything because I was sitting next to my boss (He's also the reason I am tempted to make jokes and stuff). I took notes on the hotel-logoed pad of paper given to us as a freebie by the hotel. The hotel pad that had 3 sheets of paper on it and a fine cardboard backing. Yes. 3 WHOLE SHEETS OF PAPER. And it was warped from water damage. Boy, did the Westin go all out or what???

But you don't want to hear about the conference, which was held in a windowless room so we couldn't be distracted by the view of the beach.

After the conference, Jim and I had lunch in another French restaurant called Le planteur. It was very uncrowded. Jim and I have determined that the French do not like to be rushed when they eat and so everything is served in an untimely manner. You forget that time is actually passing. You just sit there and look at the view.
The view of Oyster Bay. Our villa is on the other side of that big hill on the right side of the picture.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Even the picture is relaxing

The interior of "Le planteur." Again, no real walls. Open air eating with a roof for shade.

After lunch, we set our sights on Orient Beach. We didn't get lost so much as we guessed wrong a couple of times. We never did see a sign for the public beach area. 

We did spy a sign for "Club Orient" and figured that it was close to the beach. It was a resort but it allowed public parking. So we parked and asked the attendant how much it was to park. He said "It's free today." Yay for free! We walked into the resort to get to the beach and discovered Club Orient is a resort for nudists. HAHAHAHAHA! We just kept walking.  We finally did get to the beach, but it was the part of the beach where the nudists sunbathe. We just kept walking. I felt like everyone was looking at me because I was wearing a swimming suit. Also, I was probably the youngest one there by decades. No, I didn't take any pictures. There was a sign saying pictures weren't allowed.

We finally found the not nude section of Orient beach and got ourselves a couple of chaises and an umbrella. 

At one point, I saw a guy walking along the beach that looked a lot like Mike (who had gone their own way that day and I wasn't sure where they had gone to). The closer he got, the more like Mike he looked. Then he stopped at my chair and said, "Hey. Here you are." It was Mike. How ridiculous not to realize that the reason that the guy looked like Mike was because it WAS Mike. Anyway, he was walking up and down the beach looking for something he and Jen had lost. They were at the other end of the beach. Then he went on his merry way.

I went into the water and bobbed around in the swells again. I stayed mostly by the jet ski in the picture above. There was a guy who came within a dozen yards and motioned for me to approach him. I was leery, but after repeated attempts to get me to come closer, I finally decided he was harmless and went over. I'm glad I did because he was surrounded by a school of angelfish and he was feeding them bread. He gave me some bread and let me feed the angelfish. IT WAS SO COOL. They nibbled on my finger and having no teeth, it was simply a funny feeling and not painful. The fish were beggars, they knew that there was food to be had and they wanted it. It made me laugh. What a perfectly delightful beach activity! Eventually the guy wanted to take his school of angelfish to show others, and as he was about to leave, he looked around at the fish and said, "OK everybody, come with me.  This way." And he and the fish moved on to the next person in the water. What a strange person, and it was one of the highlights of the vacation. Too bad Jim chose to sit on the beach the whole time and not get into the water.

At the end of the beach time, we had to walk back through the nudist part and resort. I was telling Jim how even if I wanted to be a nudist and stay here, I would have to wear shoes (rocks and sticks and grass and stuff) and just as I said that, a guy walked by (nude of course) and replied, "Ain't that the truth."

Friday, February 20, 2015


After Friar's Bay, and going back to the villa for a shower, we contemplated where to eat. Jim and I had seen a creperie in Oyster Bay and I had a keen interest in trying it out. Mike and Jen agreed to go along. At first, Mike wasn't so sure about it, because he wanted pizza. Fortunately, the BZH had pizza on the menu.

I have no idea what BZH stands for and I wish I'd asked. We'd also had a grocery store clerk tell us that she worked at BZH in the evening and we should go there to eat. So when we showed up, there she was and she remembered us. She saw us and said in her awesome French accent, "You came!"

I ordered a savory crepe with creme fraiche, ham, avocado, and a sunny side up egg in it. I think we all enjoyed our food, except for Jen, who ordered a different kind of savory crepe that had a kind of sausage on it that smelled and tasted like a barn. The server said it was a French taste and probably an acquired taste at that. I tried it and it was indeed yucky.

I'm glad for Jen's sake that we got dessert too, so the trip wasn't entirely a downer for her. I ordered an apple cinnamon crepe and Jim got a caramel one. I loved my apple one, but when I tried Jim's caramel one, I had to physically restrain myself from taking it from him and eating the rest myself. It was heavenly. All week, I had thoughts of that crepe in my head. If I ever go to St Maarten again, I will go to the BZH and eat caramel crepes every night.

I have to post all the pictures of the two of us together that I can.

The BZH restaurant kitty

The luminescent mushroom lights. I want several of these.

My apple crepe. I didn't take a picture of Jim's caramel crepe--we were too busy eating it.

The BZH menu on an Apple computer screen. They somehow put the pieces of paper behind the screen glass and no it wasn't a computer generated image appearing on the screen.

the restaurant dog. He wandered around the restaurant and would occasionally stop to let people pet him, or he would nap under a table.

from the outside