Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend at Normies: Robotics, Rockway Theatre Company's Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and MORE

RTC "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", March 9, 2013

It's been Another busy few days with the full day FIRST LEGO League robotics at Javits Convention Center Saturday (missed the MORE gen meeting)  -- I was there from 7AM until 4:30. And oh what a day with 80 NYC teams from public, private, charter schools, community, parent and business oriented groups. We started with around 160 teams and after the borough qualifiers these were the finalists. The winner today is going on to the world championship in St. Louis next month.

I've been volunteering with NYCFIRST since I retired in 2002 and it's been a fruitful decade. I don't do much anymore -- just work as a liaison between the teachers and the organizers of the events -- and the work is seasonal. Intense in late summer through November when the borough organizers take over. We've had problems in Staten Island the past few years getting the event organized, so this year with Francesco Portelos forcibly removed from coaching the IS 49 team (this was the first year they did not make the finals) I recruited him to run the entire SI event and I was talking to some of the SI coaches yesterday who were totally impressed with the job he did. One said he was wowed by the creative use of technology Francesco used.

Many coaches and parents stopped by who said they appreciated my Norms Robotics blog (which you should touch base with if interested in having your school involved next year) which keeps them informed of local FLL events and updates. I feel guilty for not paying enough attention to it. Parents stopped by to find out how to start a team in their school -- and some who could not get their school to do it -- and budget/testing cost crunch has really reduced participation of many public schools. One public school coach in an upscale area told me the school had to now charge parents to cover the costs, including the teacher salary -- how interesting. She now gets paid to run an after school program with private funds. Remember the great Randi victory of getting after school DOE money pensionable, now so hollow to those being shifted to private funding?

Rockaway Theatre Company Rocks Howard Beach

I raced home to get a bite before heading over to Howard Beach to tape the amazing, amazing, Rockaway Theatre Company production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." This was supposed to be at the RTC theater in Fort Tilden in December but some dumb storm hit and the theater cannot be used. So they went to a church in Howard Beach and wowed an entire new neighborhood. One woman asked me if these are paid performers she was so impressed. She had never heard of RTC and the professional level of the productions with a mixture of pros, semi-pros and amateurs. One of the chorus gals who was a Pigeon Sister when I was in the Odd Couple is a science teacher and her acting, singing and dancing is at such a level that I believe she could be a pro. The director is Chazmond J. Peacock, an actor, singer, dancer and now a director of the highest quality. So despite a very long day, the performance was exhilerating as usual. Copyright laws prevent us from putting up shows online but we tape to make dvds for the performers. But we are allowed to use some segments and here I put up the closing "take your bows" piece done in the usual unique RTC style.

Well, it's off to see Talley's Folly - yes I do have to pay my wife back for letting me do all this crap and tomorrow after the reconstruction crew shows up we will be heading over to more plumbing and lighting supply places before I head into the city to meet with Ray Frankel and reps from the other caucuses to draw lots for ballot positions in the UFT election. How much fun will it be to be in the same room with Mike Shulman from New Action and some Unity rep?

You don't know who Ray Frankel is? She is an original Shankerite who we know from the 70s and is still working for the UFT. My pals from the old days bristle at the mention of her name. She will defend Unity policy tooth and nail though we don't go there when I see her about the election. When people ask about whether we can trust the UFT on elections I do trust Ray.

I don't want to guess her age and she needs a walker to help her get around but she is still amazingly sharp and knows everything there is to know about the process. We used to fight a lot in the 70s but I have learned to appreciate her intelligence and knowledge and one of the few pleasures of the tedious election process is getting to deal with Ray. May she be doing this work for another 20 years.

Well, after the drawing it will be off to Brooklyn Tech for the MORE rally at 5 followed by the PEP.

I think I'll take Tuesday off.

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