Friday, July 2, 2010

O Flight

I know - O Flight - sounds like it should be some ode to flying, but it is really referring to an orientation flight I took on Saturday. Our squadron got together to practice drilling, to have our drilling taped for a training video and to take O Flights.

The drilling was more fun that I thought it would be. Not only did they want to video tape us drilling correctly, they asked us to drill improperly - harder (and funnier) than you'd think! They actually had to make suggestions to us about how we could mess-up so they could have good footage of us stepping on each other heels, etc!

Then it was my turn for an O Flight. The instructors take off and land, but let us fly the plane while we're in the air. I had just started flying when the other cadet in the plane started feeling ill. Coincidence? I hope so! Anyway we were going to fly up the coast, but instead we had to stop at another local airport just long enough for the pilot to find an air-sick bag for the other cadet and then we flew back to our home airport. I hope we get more O Flight chances soon... and that I go up with a different cadet!

I can't wait to see the training video. If they put it up online, I'll definitely link to it here!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

March On

A couple weeks ago I was at my CAP meeting and my Flight Sargent joked that his voice was tired and he didn't feel like drilling the Flight and asked if there was anyone who wanted to take his place that night. My hand went right up! I had a little experience drilling at the San Juan Capistrano Swallows Day Parade and it is something I want to become good at. He looked at the Flight Commander who shrugged his shoulders and smiled which must have meant "go ahead and let him I guess" because they let me drill the Flight!

I can't say I didn't make any mistakes, but I did okay and I learned a lot more about how to drill including cadence, the order of commands, etc. I am learning more and more that I would rather take steps toward leadership even if that means I need to learn by making some mistakes than just be a follower and never expand my knowledge or skills. Learning feels good. Leading feels good. I also have found that now that I have drilled the Flight, I am better at following commands when I am in the Flight that is following the commands.

Since then I have taken every opportunity I have been offered to practice my drilling skills and participate in outside CAP activities. At the local Air Show I was in charge of helping secure the flight line. It was a great experience and a great opportunity to practice my authority with civilians. I don't mean that in a bad way, but when you are working in a rescue effort or in a community emergency you have to make sure that people listen to you and take you seriously to help keep them out of danger.

I also took personal responsibility to put together some recruiting material for our squadron to take to events so we can help build our membership. I made it first to hand out at the Swallows Day Parade, but was happy when at the Airport Days 2 months later they handed out contact material to the cadets it was these cards I had designed! I made flyers too. It gave me a really good feeling that they were using them!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Want To Be An Officer

Problem #1: I am not allowed to promote above me current grade without my Air Force Service Blues. To be honest, they weren't suppose to promote me to my current grade without them, but they let me anyway. That won't happen for the next grade. The first week of every month everyone else goes to the meetings in their "Blues" while I show up in my BDUs (battle dress uniform). We just can't afford the Blues and everything that goes along with them... shoes, socks, belt, hat, etc.

Problem #2: An important part of CAP is summer encampment and I'm really hoping I can go this summer. Wikipedia says this about it, "Civil Air Patrol's core cadet activity is the summer encampment. Typically a week to ten days long event, cadets are put into an intense, military-structured environment similar in certain respects to USAF Basic Military Training for enlisted personnel with an emphasis on physically and mentally demanding tasks and required classes and activities. These classes include aerospace education, Air Force organization, cadet programs, and drill & ceremonies."

Everyone who moves up in CAP has been to encampment and they tell me that it is especially important to go the first year you are in CAP because the training will help you throughout the rest of the CAP activities. I see the members who don't promote and most of them have never been to encampment. If I want to take other summer programs, including national activities, Search and Rescue and other Emergency Services program, I need to have gone through Encampment first.

The good news is that everything I get for encampment I will use in the future. It's the same blues uniform that I need for meetings, the same boot socks I need to stop getting blisters every time I march, the same equipment I'll take on any emergency services activities, etc. The bad news is it totals over $1,000 to get every thing I need and then it's another $300 to pay for going to encampment.

What am I doing to try and help put this money together? It's hard at 14 to get work in CA, but I had a good idea that I am working on. I just finished taking finals and I have already put a flyer together to take to the airport and see if anyone there needs my services for help detailing their plane, pre-flight checks and things like that. There are some older people who still fly and it's possible they could use some help. There is a restaurant at the airport and a lot of the older pilots have breakfast there in the morning, so I'm taking the flyer by there tomorrow (Tuesday, June 22) and see if I can get some work to help pay for encampment. I'll post about this again soon and let you know how that is working out.

D's Graduation

Danielle graduated from Fullerton College a couple weeks ago. It was a cloudy and rainy night for California.

We got together before graduation and then went to the stands. Aidan and I sat in the stands and Amanda and Mom sat on the side of the field since mom is in the wheelchair. She told Danielle which side they were sitting on so Danielle made sure she walked down that side of the field. When she walked by Amanda was able to get some good pictures of her.

She graduated with highest honors.

Here are the proofs of the professional photos taken by "Grad-images" who did a great job. Danielle is buying some of the photos, but we haven't gotten them yet.

Here is a picture that Amanda took of my sisters.

We're all really proud of Danielle and how hard she worked to get her degree while she was working full-time too!

Playing with Blocks

Wikipedia describes Roblox "as a free online multiplayer game, where you play in user-created worlds with blocks. Unlike most other games there aren't any pre-defined goals. You are given a variety of objects, a scripting language, other people and left to do whatever you want."

They sure don't make it sound fun or like something that you can do much with... come on, "build with blocks?" Well, that impression is totally wrong! Roblox is awesome!

Roblox has over 3 million members. Members design their own games by using computer scripting using a language called Lua. The best games are ranked and members compete to have the best games. I have had the #1 game on Roblox several times now. I had a 4th of July celebration game that was very successful.

I also have a game called "Nuke Disposal" where your job is to get a train carrying nuclear waste to a disposal area. It was visited almost 60,000 times!

I have just finished a hair cutting game, "Ro-cuts," where I learned how to use GUIs (graphical user interfaces) to let members change their hair styles. I just uploaded it and it has already had over 1,000 visits and I haven't even started putting any ads up for it!

I'm kinda famous on Roblox. When I come into a game, people will say, "It's the creator!" and have "I met Monkeyjoe995!" on their pages. Some of them want to have their character's picture taken with mine. It's especially funny when I'm visiting another game and all of sudden someone recognizes me, usually from "Nuke Disposal" and they say, "You're famous! I can't believe I got to meet you!"

My games have been visited 87,813 times, so a lot of people know who I am and recognize me. They ask for my help and so I have started teaching scripting classes online.

I teach 3 levels of Lua scripting and over 100 people are taking my classes.

I've been asked to teach things more and more lately. I am teaching the Lua classes online and at CAP I have been asked to teach the Cadet Oath to the new members in Charlie Flight. I know my memory work really well and so it was easy for me to teach them. See more about that here.

I'm hoping to take real scripting classes in high school, but I need to take some prerequisite classes first. I wanted to start that this summer, but with no money in CA for summer school, people have to pay themselves if they want to take any classes. You can see my grades here. I bet this is difficult for a lot of kids who have goals and are trying to build a good future for themselves. I guess if I'm stressed about it I can always relax by just playing with some blocks!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CAP Journey (so far)

I joined CAP (Civil Air Patrol) about 7 months ago because I want to be a pilot. CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. I'm learning a lot about flying but even more importantly I'm learning a lot about how to work hard toward my goals and how to be a good leader.

I've promoted 2 times since I joined from Cadet Airman Basic, to Cadet Airman and now I'm a Cadet Airman First Class. I'll be promoting to Cadet Senior Airman in July once I pass the Review Board. To promote you need to:

1. Pass a PT test
2. Study Aerospace Education and pass an Aerospace test
3. Study Leadership and pass a Leadership test
4. Pass a Review Board

I have also just become the Bravo Flight Element Leader. The Element Leader is responsible for the making sure the cadets in their flight are attending meetings, wearing their uniform properly and making sure the cadets are progressing through their education so they will be eligible to promote. If a cadet has a problem in any of those areas its my responsibilty to help work out a solution.

When I get a job in CAP I work as hard as I can at it. It wouldn't be a job if it didn't need to get done, so I do my best and learn all that I can from it. If you look here you'll find another story about how I am trying to learn all that I can in CAP. Overall I think it is a great experience. Since we learn and grow into leadershop roles within CAP, if you work hard, learn and promote, you become a stronger person with skills you can take with you whatever you end up doing in life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Teaching the Code

When you are a member of the Civil Air Patrol, you have "memory work," an oath, honor code, value of drill and ceremonies, the definition of leadership, the definition of military disciple and chain of command from Commander and Chief Obama all the way down to me! That's the hardest part of memory work because there are so many of them!

I know my memory work so well that any time they ask me - during inspection, during my Review Board, etc., I'm able to repeat the whole thing perfectly. I think they are a little doubtful that I'll be able to do it, but I always get it right.

I guess I made an impression on them because the other night they asked me to teach the CAP Honor Code to the new recruits in Charlie Flight. I thought about how I would learn it and took them through these steps:

1. I recited the whole Honor Code to them
2. I broke it down into sections and explained the importance of each part
3. I had them recite each of the smaller sections several times
4. We worked about putting the whole thing together

By the time we were done, they were really starting to learn the Honor Code. I was proud of how I worked with them. I really like developing the skills I need to be a good teacher and a good leader. I'm just glad they didn't ask me to teach them the chain of command or the meeting would have had to run really long that night!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finals Week

Starting with "Finals Week" for my first blog could be looked at like starting at the end, but I like to look at it like a jumping off point. I can catch you up on what has been going on up until now and then we can go forward from here.

I have 5 main things in my life:

1. Family
2. School
3. Civil Air Patrol/Flying
4. Roblox
5. Planning My Future

I tried to put them in some kind of descending order, so I guess this order is in the amount of time I dedicate to each of these things. Some weeks this order is more accurate than others. Right now school is probably at the top of the list because I just finished FINALS WEEK!

I don't have my official grades yet, but here is a clip of my course averages:

Over 100% in some of my classes?* Getting the right grade is tricky. At the beginning of school I was nervous about how things were going to go so I did all the extra credit that I could. Then what? At the end of school should I start skipping assignments because I can? That didn't seem right, so that's how I ended up with grades over 100%.

I don't know why, but I feel like I should explain what happened to my Algebra grade. All I can say is that we got to linear equations and I choked. It could be because I never got any graph paper. I know I could have printed some out, which I did do a couple times when I was studying, but I forgot every time when I was taking the Algebra test. So part of every timed test, I spent drawing lines on the paper. That's okay if the numbers you are working with are small, like 3 and 4, but when you have numbers over 10, that takes a lot of time. My lesson learned from this? Be prepared? Think ahead? Remember stuff I tell myself I should do? It's a lesson I better learn quick because next year I'm taking Geometry!

I was hoping to take some classes this summer, but because of California's budget problems there is no free summer school this year. That detours me a little from #5, Planning My Future, because there are prerequisite classes I wanted to take this summer but classes cost around $200 and with needing money for Encampment too, I can't figure out how to put any more money together. So school is going to have to drop off the bottom of my list and Civil Air Patrol is going to move way up. Today is the last day of school and tomorrow I start trying to raise money for CAP Encampment which I will talk about in my next post.

*Thanks to my 4th/5th grade teacher Mrs. Fry for teaching me how to ask questions in my writing. I use it all the time! Is it a good technique? I definitely think so!