Nope, I am not dead (yet anyway…)! It’s approaching almost two whole months since my last post, and I apologise for that. There has been a lot happening in my life recently, some of which I shall go through here, as well as some of the other, more tech-related things, but nothing about the iPad mini or the likes: I trust you have already been bombarded with enough of that from tech blogs or even standard news sites (which, in my opinion, don’t do the whole story justice, but anyway…). Let us begin.
Following my wishing of good luck in my last post, we hit the ground running at the start of term! Firstly, the pace of the lessons increased dramatically as we are approaching GCSEs, especially Geography, where my teacher bombarded us with not-so-subtle hints about where we stood in relation to the rest of the year and how it was not good enough in order to achieve that A* at GCSE. He was right, as our end of year exam results were less than adequate (excluding mine, of course!), so now we are all under pressure to preform better. That was one of the more mundane stories.
I volunteered to design and operate the lighting for a small school play called, The Long, The Short and The Tall. I had no idea how to design lighting, so I was running around like a madman taking to the director and the technician for the show, discussing various ideas. Tech rehearsal went smoothly and so did dress, and on that note, opening night came around.
In the audience, I could see several English teachers, of course, as well as my sister, self proclaimed not-nice-person technology teacher and my slightly intimidating chemistry teacher, all of which were sitting within my line of view and had noticed me on the lighting desk. The Chemistry teacher was right next to me, and he told me, in what I interpreted, incorrectly perhaps, to be a good-humored joke, “Don’t screw up”. Famous last words.
It all went smoothly, up to a point.
The actors were in the middle of a little dance thing. I was hovering over the “go” button, waiting for my cue a few lines later.
Click. BAM! Blackout.
It took a few moments for me to realise what had happened. The actors continued dancing and singing in the darkness, while I was frantically trying to troubleshoot the problem, while the sound technician, Henry Dyer, was whispering profanities in my ear. That proofed to be challenging, as in addition to all the lanterns, my board and desk lamp were out. My immediate thought was that my rig had overloaded the dimmers, as we were basically running at capacity at that point, or that I had MASSIVELY screwed up. The actors told me later that they had thought the same thing.
“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, there has been a power cut. Please stay seated; it should be sorted out shortly”. LIES! We sat there for the best part of 20 minutes waiting in complete darkness. We, always being the professionals, waited in our seats as we were still in performance, kinda. Eventually, they called it and served interval drinks. Meanwhile, we took three extension leads and siphoned the power from one building with power to the studio so we could have sound and use torches and desk lamps to continue the show. The show must go on, as they say! The lights were still out though, as those run off a separate circuit to the mains, at 15A, not 13A. By this stage, my chemistry teacher had left.
If I am perfectly honest, the show looked better in torchlight! For the blackouts, I had to run around and turn off the desk lamps! T’was eventful, with many strange looks!
Then clearance was given to turn the haze machine on. Now, normally before a performance the smoke detectors in the studio are disabled to allow for the haze, but because the whole building had lost power, the system reset. So, when we turned on the haze, the fire alarm went off!
“I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, we need to evacuate the building. Please make your way to the nearest emergency exit,” bellowed the director over the defending ring of the alarm. We were sitting there banging our heads against the table, as we knew exactly what was wrong! So, standing in the freezing cold, two fire trucks arrived and two 7 foot tall firefighters “inspected” the building. The all clear was given and we walked back in.
The electrician managed to fix the lights during the performance and all of a sudden, my desk and all the lanterns came up! There was no applause, but I was relieved and one could almost feel the relief of the audience as well. We ended only 1.5 hours later than scheduled. Not bad! My technology teacher stayed until the end and ended up praising us. He is not so bad as he might like to claim to be.
So, what else happened? Well, my Toyota Technology Challenge team decided to enter the other category, solar, as we were no longer allowed to do the PIC category because the school wanted the year below us to do it. Despite that fact, we designed and built a buggy, called G2M1 (generation 2 – Mark 1), which fared better than the PIC.Bug 1 and 2, our old designs, ever did, while having a simpler design. This was built within three weeks and was fully functional by the fourth. The other official team had yet to cut out their chassis! We still were not allowed to enter though, so instead we are advisors to the other team and are entering the other category.
We recently started testing various transmission systems and things like that on a buggy we have named “Swiss Cheese”. You’ll get it…
So yes, that is going well. Other than that, there has not been much else of importance regarding extracurricular activities. We have been bombarded with exam stuff, not least my technology controlled assessment. We are the first year to do this course from the WJEC within the school, and it is slightly evident that the teachers are at an equal loss as we are, despite their attempts to hide it! It’s no surprise really when the chief WJEC examiner is, rather unhelpfully, telling them to “use [their] common sense [in a welsh accent])” as a response to every question, but hey, what are you going to do, not use your common sense?
Along with the ambiguous nature of the whole course, my class, being amazing, have hugely overcomplicated the project, meaning that within our 30 hour timed controlled assessment time, we have to do much, much more than what the other class have to! For example, someone is making a bike computer in my class, while in the other class, they are all making signs that light up when it gets dark.
Now I am just rambling, and I am guessing my teachers are not going to appreciate reading this, but meh.
More interesting perhaps, I also went on a hugely entertaining and insightful trip to Morocco with my school, with the itinerary involving three days trekking in the desert. I Could write more about this, but I shall not, as I have been asked to write an article about it for the school magazine, an edited version of which I shall post here at a later date.
Where does this leave me now? Well, in a bit of a mundane spot! I have three monotonous controlled assessments ahead of me: Tech, Ancient History aand English Literature, for which we are doing Shakespeare. It’s not that I cannot appreciate good literature, it’s just that I find him slightly tedious…
Also, I am sorry for not getting around to that rant bit I promised earlier: the next post will have it, I promise! If I don’t get round to writing another post for another month, let me apologise in advance. Following this post, I am sure you can appreciate why! For now, farewell!