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Alachua Robotics Institute

Ran into an old friend named Tim in the grocery store yesterday — he used to be my next-door neighbor when I lived up the road in a small town north of Gainesville.  He teaches middle-school math up there and regularly (like, 2 or 3 times) has won the Teacher of the Year Award for Alachua County.  (He also plays guitar and watches lots of interesting movies on Blue Ray.)

Tim told me that in the next year of so, his school and perhaps all Alachua County middle schools will start teaching Robotics as part of math classes — students will actually participate in building robots.  He’s excited that this will excite students, will give them a usable skill, will show them that math does indeed have real-world applications.  I’m excited, too, and happy to hear that our new Superintendent of schools is a forward-looking as he’s seemed to be in the year he’s been in charge.

Robot Dog

Robot Dog

When I was teaching English classes at Santa Fe College, I had a student named Chris who was bright, eccentric, a bit of a Goth (had a lotta Goth students, once word got around that I didn’t disapprove).  Chris was more interested in art than English, though he did all right (his older sister was a little bit better).  He learned to do tattooing — as a business opportunity as well as an art project (and one of my tattoos is his creation\application).

I kept up with Chris after he graduated and enrolled in University of Florida, also here in Gainesville.  Over the years, he taught himself robotics — I’d stop by his house and there would be mechanical creatures scurrying around the house.  This led to a lucrative job with a robotics company out west, Colorado or Arizona.

Lost touch with Chris, but can’t wait for Tim’s new Robotics Institute to come into being — he told me that the story should hit the media in the next few weeks or months.


The Lord’s Prayer at My Saturday Meeting

I go to an A.A. meeting Saturday morning, been doing it for years — it’s called “10th & 11th Step Meditation” meeting.  There are some readings, about 10 minutes of meditation, and then a general discussion on a topic taken from the floor — technically, it should focus on the 10th or 11th Steps, but the group doesn’t really seem to care.

So, one of our members raised his hand and suggested that we discuss the part we like best in The Lord’s Prayer (which, as a Catholic school boy in grades 1-6, we usually called “The Our Father,” based on its opening words).

It was an unusual topic for in A.A. meeting in my town (Gainesville, FL), because we usually end meetings by forming a circle, holding hands, calling to memory our members who are struggling, and then saying Reinhold Neibuhr’s Serenity Pray (or at least the first three lines of its ten lines).  The Saturday morning meeting is the only one I can think of (or go to regularly) that ends with the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Well, no one raised a hand to say, “The Lord’s Prayer gives me the screaming jim-jams, since it’s a Christian prayer spoken by Jesus, occurring in the Gospel of Matthew, which is part of the Christian New Testament.”  It’s possible that someone thought it — often members mention their trouble with “the God thing”– but didn’t raise a hand.

My dear friend B said her favorite part is, “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  Reminds her, she said, that she has to live in an earthly body and struggle with earthly issues, but that heavenly life is possible, with recovery and grace.  My friend J said he always has to laugh at “Lead us not into temptation” because it reminds him of a friend who asked, “Why would I pray that God doesn’t lead me into Penn Station?”  Y’know, what he said versus what I heard — like the kid who thought the hymn was about Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear instead of “Gladly the Cross I’d Bear.”

My favorite part, which I didn’t get to share (50 people at the meeting) is, “Thy Kingdom come.”  Nice to think that God’s kingdom is one of our possible futures.  Some would say that the Kingdom is already here — it’s in each of us.