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The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Fencing, Aikido, Robots, Chuck, and friends, oh my!

So, it's been a few weeks since I wrote last. Usually, this is because I was so busy that I didn't have time to reflect or write about my experiences. However, in a rare twist, the reason for my lack of posts was due to procrastination. Last week, I did not really do too much. I had classes, read some stuff, lazed around. I guess maybe I was nervous about all that I would taking on, but part of it was I just did not have the focus nor the desire to be focused.

But that's okay! It's still early in the term and even when I slack off, it's all budgeted and managed, and so I got back into the swing of things this week with impunity. The weekend was incredibly social and very nice. I was treated to a wonderful array of home-made food and gracious hospitality by friends I rarely see, but really should more often. It was a wonderful night, and I look forward to seeing their smiling faces again soon.

Saturday, I had a meeting with my sponsor for my engineering project. It angered me a little to be meeting our sponsor 5 months into the project, but he seemed very willing to help. The meeting was informative, somewhat helpful, and I look forward to building on what we have already done.  Later that evening, some friends and I went out to the Fox and the Fiddle wherein I bought 6 songs on the jukebox, and lost several times in Foosball to my friend while singing classics from Journey, Styx, and Dire Straits.

Sunday was mostly social, seeing two other friends I rarely see. We had a nice day of hanging out, video games, and joined another friend for dinner. It was quite nice, and I was thankful to have been able to get out, and catch up, as prepositions go.

Monday's are the longest, but now I have a reason to look forward to them. While I have class for most of the day including that lab I might have complained...err, I mean mentioned, every now and again, I also have Fencing now! I took lessons 2 years ago, but this time things look to be a bit more accelerated and I plan on dedicating myself to the goal of competing, as soon as possible. It was very fun, I got to handle a foil, and think I will have a great time! Plus, the skills are easily practiced at home, so I hope to take a few minutes of every day to do so and get myself ready to compete. I really want to get good at this, and I've learned that the best way to get something, and to get good at something, is to first want it, and then secondly to reach for, grab, and hold onto it, no matter what. That may sound like vague inspirational advice, but honestly, I love Fencing for deeper reasons than purely swordplay, and my dedication has always been a formidable weapon of its own.

Tuesday was pretty exciting! I spent the majority of it catching up on some note-keeping and other things managerial, but I also got a chance to play with one of the robots from my Robotics class. Due to being in the class, I am free to play around with it whenever I please, as long as no one else needs it. A friend of mine, who is good at computer programming, and is now the TA for the course, came by to help me, and together we not only cleared the cobwebs that had been forming in my head over the course material but were able to run a simulation and transmit the commands to the robot, thus making it move! It was pretty awesome getting the robot to move how I wanted. A little more information on the type of robot, it is a CRS A150 Robotic Arm, with 5 joints, thus 5 rotational arms.

As seen above, joint 1, known as the Waist, turns the whole robotic arm. Joint 2 is the Shoulder, 3 is the Elbow, 4 is the Wrist, and while not seen here, a gripper arm is attached to the end which can rotate via Joint 5 aka the Twist. It is old, 23 years old, but still works for introductory purposes. Thankfully, most of the work in the course seems to be math, and the rest corresponds to transferring the math into programmable commands to be given to the robot. Some of you might be shaking your head at the "thankfully, most of the math" part, but honestly, the rules of math are constant (pun intended) and a lot easier to understand than the syntax of computer code. Plus, once I know the math, I can work in any language and the coding just gets easier from there. Most of the work seems to be in the 2 main problems of position, what are known as the Direct/Forward Kinematics, and Indirect/Reverse Kinematics. The Forward problem consists of knowing the length of the arms, and the rotation of the joints, and determining the position of the gripping hand. The Reverse problem involves knowing or wanting the hand to be in a certain location, and determining the rotations and movements which must occur to get the hand there. Obviously, the second is the more challenging of problems, but it's all trigonometry, (math involving triangles for you laymen out there), so I should do well. In the meantime, robots! I can control them!

Tuesday night, I went to my first Aikido class! Recommended by two friends, I was very excited to try it out! The class was small, only 5 people, plus the instructor, and other than myself, only one other beginner. But, the instructor and other students were very kind, and very patient, explaining everything, helping me, correcting my mistakes. I went with a friend (the other beginner) and the instructor and students agreed that we did very well for our first time. Since we are the only beginners, I'm sure we'll feel a little overwhelmed with everything, but the faster-paced lesson style is good as it will mean quick improvement. We go back Thursday and I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday was a nice, quiet night, except for some video-gaming to take the edge off.

Thursday was a nice day of catching up, laundry, and note-taking. Later that evening, I went back to my second Aikido class and it was better than the first! The instructor was a black belt RCMP officer, so that was a little intimidating, but he was also a really nice guy. Some of the techniques he was showing were kind of scary and kind of Batman-like. It was impressive! Got to do a little more, focus on some of the basics, and even got to wield a bokken, a Japanese wooden sword. Not only was it really neat, but as Ron, the instructor said, holding the sword helps to understand some of the basic moves, how they are done and why. I felt a lot better, and am looking forward to spending a little of my weekend working on the form and technique as I have been having a hard time with the movement. Which is entirely new to me! For any of you who don't know me, and I'm sorry for bragging here, but I am a coordinated guy. I can dance, not professionally or anything, but I generally have great control of my movement and my balance. Aikido's stress on keeping your feet on the floor, and sliding your movement around is new to me, and frankly I'm having a little trouble getting used to sliding my feet. It's an experience I have not felt in a long time, being a little off-balance and unsure of myself, but honestly, I'm loving it! It means I'm learning something new and something about myself. I'm forming a better connection with my body and this will help me in ways most people wouldn't even think about.

After enjoying a night out with some friends on Friday, I spent the early part of the weekend locked up in my room, working on assignments and being very studious. Today (Sunday) was a nice day of relaxation. I should have been working on my projects, but I decided to just relax and make sure I would enjoy a little of the weekend. I played some more video games, and did very well, enjoying the online company of friends. I worked on my résumé and C.V., which will be posted as soon as I am satisfied with them. I also read a little more of Wonder, the third in the WWW series by Robert J. Sawyer, a Torontonian science-fiction writer. I enjoyed a guessing game which I will call a Friend Called Wanda, with said friend, and I was treated to a delicious dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and carrots marinaded in maple syrup! My friends are pretty amazing and, as I was teasing with my mom, it's not that I can't cook for myself, it's just that if my friends are willing to cook, and cook such scrumptious items as just mentioned...well, I'd rather not cook, haha. Finally, I finished the show Chuck, which I gave an overall review here: Chuck. The series ended well, the characters going through a beautiful array of arcs, and I was very impressed with the writing, and the actors' ability to make me really feel for a cast for the first time in a long time. Seriously, you guys, if you want a light-hearted but emotionally satisfying show, it's 5 seasons long, and I promise you, you'll enjoy it. I'm actually considering writing the writers and actors, thanking them for their work. What made the show a little more special was sharing it with my friends. I had been referred to the show by one friend, and I talked about it so much that 2 others followed suit. Sharing the end of a show we had grown to love was a really nice moment.

And finishing this blog post will conclude my weekend. Well, I may read some more, but either way, it has been a wonderful week and I thank all of you for reading, and I thank my friends for helping to make it so.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kasaboski,

    I am saeid saeidi, a faculty member of Hakim Sabzevari University.
    We have got some CRS Plus A150 robot here but no one can works with them and their catalog and software are lost, unfortunately. Can you or your TA help us on this problem? If yes my email is:

    I would really appreciate if you could help us.

    Best wishes,
    Saeid Saeidi