Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Jersey Regional

My last blog entry lied. I'm definitely not in New Jersey right now, and unfortunately at school instead. Normally I would write an incredibly long entry filled with pictures and video and anything else that appears in my mind. This time around, I just feel like giving a little summary. Eh, maybe not...

EDIT: pics here(you don't need a Facebook account to view)

The trip there was pretty smooth, 40 minute delay, ate crappy food at Ft. Lauderdale Airport, lost a SOAP laptop somewhere in Philly, and then played lots of SingStar and Guitar Hero my room. On Thursday, we learned that this hotel supplied possibly the worst continental breakfast that could ever be served. Also, DJ, Jhon, Gustavo, and I thought it would be an awesome idea to be the first ones to get to the arena. Ha, how clever of us...they ended up opening the doors at 9am, and we had to stand outside in the <20 style="font-style: italic;">I had no control over the arm and it was stuck in this ~90degree position. A miscommunication led to the arm getting snapped because the robot was driven full speed backwards under the overpass with the arm up. At that point, we though we were done for the day. It was even more disappointing since we had won all of our matches, and breaking the arm didn't seem worth 2 points when we were already >20 points ahead. Though in true 108 fashion, the robot got fixed. Our plan was just to remove the arm for our next match and take the position of the lap-bot, but with the help of the NASA Machine Shop (thank goodness they were there) and little parts from the other generous teams, we got the whole thing fixed and in working condition in less than an hour, making our next match. Though everything functioned properly, it was the only match of the regional that we lost. The rest of the day ran smoothly, winning our last match and ranking 3rd, 5-1 by the end of the day.

Anyone in FIRST knows that Friday's rankings don't really mean much if you're in the Top 8, because within the matter of 1 match on Saturday morning, everything can change. We didn't want to be too cocky, so we planned for the case of dropping out of the Top 8 -- doing scouting overnight and making sure to promote our robot to other teams. This wasn't necessary, because we ended up winning our last two matches, thus placing us #4, 7-1, by lunch time Saturday. (Lunchtime? who got to eat lunch...not me =/) As alliance captains, we had to quickly combine all of our scouting data and create a top 8 list of hurdlers, lap-bots, and secondary picks. At the supposedly competitive New Jersey Regional, this was a bit hard to do. On Friday night, we watched all the videos from the matches (exhausting!), and coming up with a list of consistent hurdlers was not easy. I was the representative from our team to pick (a bit nervous), and we selected 223, a pretty good hurdler, and 102, the most awesome lap-bot there. We got owned in the quarterfinals, since we were behind 24 points in hybrid mode each time, so the competition ended there for us. I'm definitely looking forward to FL now, since we have a bit of an advantage!

From the fun side, this trip was pretty awesome, I'd say. We didn't even have to plan out some fancy itinerary; fun in (or outside of) the hotel with the team was enough fun alone. As soon as we arrived on Wednesday, despite it being 11pm when we got there, we played SingStar and Guitar Hero for a few hours. Fun stuff. Thursday night was karaoke night, with Karaoke Revolution: American Idol Edition and SingStar being the highlights of the evening. I have video, but they are too dark to see anything. If you want to see 'em, I'll send/show if you'd like. Friday was the best night of them all. On the way back from dinner at the little Italian restaurant where DJ bought us all cheesecake (Thanks!), snow flurries started to fall. Even though there wasn't enough snow on the ground to form anything that resembled a snow ball, there were piles of snow on the edges of the parking lot from the blizzard a few days before. Let the battle begin! More and more people came out, and eventually we had the whole team outside for a 1.5 hour snowball fight, including an awesome ending with Students vs. Mentors. Guess who won? It ended when a woman complained that since we were playing the parking lot, we might hit her car. Boo her! Another hilarious thing was that we noticed after about an hour that there were 3 hotel windows with the curtains open...the Canadians were just sitting up in their nicely heated rooms laughing at us! "Those silly Floridians!" After the snowball fight, the night wasn't over. We gathered everyone in my room to read the Woodie Flowers Award submission to Diane (almost producing tears), and then headed off to do some scouting. We watched every single match video from Friday, trying to come up with a list of top teams...not easy to do. After that we visited another room to view some freshman-on-freshman pranking. Surprisingly, the freshmen were really cool to be around. Eventually I went to sleep... I don't know how, or when I managed to pack, but Saturday went by incredibly fast. I didn't get a chance to eat until we got to the airport, and realized that I was severely dehydrated sometime during the elimination rounds, making a mad dash to find something before my abilities were hindered. By the time we left on Saturday, most of us had adjusted to the cold, not wearing jackets at all. The entire weekend went by insanely fast, arriving back in Fort Lauderdale around 1am on Sunday.

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