Welcome to Mike Grusin's

“Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”
-Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Short story

Filed under: Uncategorized — mgrusin at 10:39 am on Saturday, April 14, 2007

Since we’re all storytellers at some level, I liked this list of Kurt Vonnegut’s (1922 – 2007) rules for short stories:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

Via

The Knights of Colbert

Filed under: Uncategorized — mgrusin at 12:36 pm on Friday, April 6, 2007

I’ve had the honor this year of helping out Fairview High School with their entry in the FIRST Robotics Challenge, the Colbertron.  Every year the FIRST organization (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announces a challenging new contest, and give teams of students just six weeks to build, program and test their entry. This year’s contest, “Rack and Roll”, required the robots to pick up inflated tubes and place them on a rack for points. Extra points could be gained by raising robots up to 12″ off the ground at the end of the match.

The six weeks went by quickly (with all the drama of any good engineering project), and on March 29th the regional competition began at the University of Denver’s Magnus Arena. The rookie Fairview team did an outstanding job in both robot construction and driving, even being called out by the announcers for helping push another robot up a ramp at the end of a match.

After a day and a half of competitions, the top 32 robots went on to elimination matches. Unfortunately, Fairview was ranked 33rd! The team was a little bummed out that they had come so close to continuing. But then a higher-ranked team chose Fairview to be on their team (due to their excellent driving skills and teamwork), so they got to continue.

In the elimination matches (which were best-of-three), Fairview lost the first match, won the second (and got to continue!), but lost the third 140 to zero (ouch). But it was a heck of a ride. This was Fairview’s first FIRST competition, and the students are already planning for next season.

Final standings (Fairview is team #2036)
Lots of pictures in the Flying Circuits Gallery