Washington ARML success!

American Regions Mathematics League (ARML, http://www.arml.com) is a nationwide high-school level mathematics contest that has been around since the mid-1970s. Teams of 15 students, selected to represent a “region” (which can be anything from a multi-state region to a single school) travel to one of four US testing centers for a tough competition consisting of individual and team math tests.

I participated in ARML back in the early 1980s as a member of the Texas team, going three years in a row. Back then, there was only one testing center which was on the East Coast (either Univ of Maryland or Penn State). We took a 30-hour bus ride from San Antonio through Houston then on to the test center. The bus ride was, of course, one of the best parts of the competition.

When I got back into math contests in the late 2000s, I ended up finding the organizer of the SFBA/NorCal ARML teams (Tim Sanders). I went to ARML as a staff member and part-time coach, then ended up organizing a Sacramento team up until 2021.

Upon the move to Washington, I looked around for whoever was organizing the Washington ARML. I knew there was a team as I’d seen them at past ARML competitions.

Turned out it was a college student who, when in high school in Seattle, took over when the long-time coach retired. I got into touch with him and offered to help out. He was thrilled as I had experience and he couldn’t do much organizing because he was at college at Stanford.

You can tell where this is going. I basically ended up doing a lot of the team management this year – organizing practices, handling money and email, finding a practice location (my office), etc.

This year, ARML allowed teams to do the competition “off-site” (in their home region) since the pandemic was still active. The students voted to do the competition “off-site”. Thank goodness, because I did not want to have to organize travel to Las Vegas in my first year.

Saturday June 4 we did the competition. Three teams of 15 students, doing all the tests, and a pizza party, and two other adults and me doing all the grading and score entry, all in one day. It was a long day. I took off for Sacramento the following day (after packing Saturday night).

Monday the scores came out and Washington ARML (WARML) did great!

In the “offsite” competition our top two teams were fifth and seventh nationally! Looking at overall results (combined with on-site results), they were tenth and fifteenth. All three teams did better than I would have hoped they would do, which was fantastic.

It was a great set of results. I’d told the students all along that I thought they were capable of being one of the top regions in the country and my thoughts were right. They were one of only three regions with two teams in the top 15 overall (the others were the superpowered SFBA/NorCal and Texas). The #1 team was 10 points away from top 3 offsite and top 5 overall. The #2 team was the second-best #2 team in the country and was within a few points of SFBA/NorCal #2. The #3 team, which was a group of young students at their first ARML, did great on multiple events.

Washington ARML is looking really great for the future. I’m looking forward to next year when I’ll have a year of experience with this group and should be better organized. I’m sure that Washington ARML can do even better next year and also continue to build students’ problem-solving skills into the future.

But for now, I’m enjoying the little break and the upcoming summer.

  • yeff

Adventures in Lawn Mowing

When I rented the house in Bellevue, the landlord mentioned I’d need to mow the lawn. He very kindly provided *two* lawn mowers, and a few gas cans, and oil. (And brought me a weed whacker). He also said I wouldn’t need to mow year round – just in the spring/summer, probably every couple weeks, probably starting in April.

By the end of May, I hadn’t mowed. In my (meagre) defense, I had gotten pretty busy with the ARML coaching and with trying to be more social and go out and do things on the weekend.

So the lawn had gotten a little … long.

It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely near my calves. And in places, “stalks” were growing that were waist-high. It looked like I might be trying to raise a cash crop.

Last week I mowed the front yard. The main issue was that the front yard has a big hill from the driveway to the side of the house and there’s a drainage ditch in front of the house which is a real pain to mow. And since I’d let it go, I had to constantly dump the catch bag into the green waste.

It took about an hour. By the end the green waste bin was full and I was beat and my back hurt. But the lawn looked a lot better.

Yesterday I mowed the back yard. No drainage ditch, but a pretty big slope from the house down to the full back yard. And it was worse – a lot more cash crops growing up.

Halfway through the yard, I had completely filled up the green waste bin.

I thought about stopping, but then I realized it would only get worse over the next couple weeks while I’m in CA for A’s graduation.

So I took off the catch bag and powered through the rest of the yard, just letting the grass cuttings come out the back. When I was done, I went back over the piles of cuttings to spread them out some more.

It took two hours total. By the end my shoes and lower jeans were covered with grass, I was all sweaty, my lower back was sore, and I was beat. And that was with a power drive motor, which saved me because I can’t imagine trying to push a lawn mower up those hills. Would have killed me.

But the lawn is fully mowed. And it looks soooo much better. I’m sure the neighbors are relieved, especially those with a straight view into the back yard.

I’ll have to mow again later this month (when I get back). And do some edging around the fence. And maybe get rid of some of the bushes/vines that are overgrown.

I haven’t mowed a yard since the first year or two of college, when I’d go back to Texas and mow the yard for my mom. I have to say that it’s a very rewarding effort – three hours in total and the yard looks nice.

And I saved the money that I would have paid a gardener (I was getting quotes of $200/month). So I get to treat myself to a ticket to see a play!

Back in the lawn mowing swing again,


Eurovision 2022

I became a Eurovision fan after a Worldcon where there was a panel titled “Why Eurovision is so Awesome” (or something like that). The panelists were a collection of Eurovision fans from all over the world and they gushed enthusiastically about Eurovision. They showed videos and talked about the international rivalries and alliances and absolutely loved how over the top and enjoyable Eurovision was. After that panel, I was hooked.

The “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” movie on Netflix, starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, was funny and entertaining and even heart-warming at times, and a real celebration of what I love about Eurovision.

So I’ve watched videos of the Eurovision songs during and after the competitions, and the last two years I’ve watched the live shows as they’ve been available on Peacock (NBC streaming).

This year, a lot of my favorite songs didn’t even make it out of the Semifinals. I was fond of the poppy, self-positive songs – “IM” (Israel), “That’s Rich” (Ireland), for example – or the goofy high-energy songs – “Eat Your Salad” (Latvia), “Lock Me In” (Georgia), etc. Alas, no love for those in the judging or the popular vote

But “Give That Wolf A Banana” (Norway) and “In Corpore Sano” (Serbia) made it to the finals, so that made me happy.

My top choices in the finals were, in order from #1 to #5:
– “Give That Wolf A Banana” (Norway, Subwoolfer)
– “In Corpore Sano” (Serbia, Konstrakta)
– “Sentimental” (Lithuania, Monika Liu – one of my big crushes of the artists)
– “Stefania” (Ukraine, Kalush Orchestra)
– “Fulenn” (France, Alvaz & Ahez)

In the end “Stefania” from Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won, on the strength of overwhelming support in the popular vote. I can’t complain one bit. I liked the song and the symbolism of Ukraine winning in the light of Putin’s invasion of the country is really important. Anything that puts a giant stick in the eye of a tyrant like Putin is a win.

So go Ukraine and go Eurovision! Another enjoyable year.

  • yeff

Happy Star Wars Day!

To celebrate, I’m watching ROGUE ONE which I call the “World War 2 impossible-mission, no-one-gets-out-alive Star Wars movie” you never knew you wanted until you saw it and then you realized you needed it.

Very enjoyable. And lots of Easter Eggs in it, I actually caught a few more this time (Panda Baba!)

May the Fourth Be With You

  • yeff

It is May and I am in the future

Trying to get into the habit of short posts rather than “saving up” a long post and never posting.

It’s May, and I live in Seattle now. Well, Bellevue – so not *really* Seattle. But in the area. I’ve been here since I moved right after Thanksgiving. Though I spent December living in an empty house until my stuff arrived, then unpacking and organizing, then my daughters came for a few days, then we drove back to Sacramento, then I stayed there until New Years Eve when the weather was clear enough to drive back. So I really consider that I’ve only settled here since January 1.

Since then, I have been working and traveling for work and occasionally getting out (occasional meet-up with old friends in the area, and Norwescon). But work has mellowed out and it’s time to do more things and see more sights and meet more people and starting “finding my group”.

I went back to Sacramento last weekend to see Ava row in Western Regionals. It was a reminder of how much my life has changed. Sacramento definitely felt like the “old life”. And it was soooo warm there – almost 80 degrees and bright and sunny! I’ve already adjusted to Seattle weather.

Enough for a daily post. More another day.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (or The Future Is Almost Here)

Two years ago, in October 2019, my spouse and I agreed that our marriage wasn’t working. We’d realized there were issues before that, and we worked in couples therapy to understand the issues and the state of our relationship. Eventually we realized that we were done as a couple. It was all in a friendly, mature, manner, but our marriage was over.

In February 2020 she moved out of the house. In March 2020 the pandemic started. In April 2020, I made a Status Report talking about the separation and the start of the pandemic. In December 2020, I did a short update talking about my playwriting adventures.

So what’s happened since then?

I worked at home throughout 2020, occasionally going into the office for specific moments on projects. My younger daughter came back from college and was at home starting in June 2020. I rode my bike and exercised. I chatted with groups of friends every week on Zoom. I wrote plays for Pulp Stage and they were performed online. Life became much simpler, much mellower, less driven.

By the beginning of 2021, I’d realized I was ready for things to change. My spouse and I began the formal divorce process. She wanted to have the house long-term, so I started planning to move to an apartment. I realized I was ready for a change in my work as well, so I started thinking about finding a different job. As these processes moved forward, I told myself that “the future is coming”. The future being a time when I wasn’t living in the house, when I was divorced, and perhaps even had a new job.

In the summer of 2021, the future arrived.

In the space of about seven weeks, from the middle of June to the beginning of August, the following happened:

– I bought a new car (Blue Toyota Rav4 Hybrid)

– I got an apartment in Davis

– I interviewed for several jobs, and accepted a position at a company in Bellevue, Washington.

– I had a July the Fourth party in the backyard of the house

– I left my old job.

– I moved to Davis

– I started the new job.

I spent most of August relaxing into the apartment in Davis and into the new job. I spent a week in Bellevue at the start, then two weeks remote, then another week in Bellevue at the start of September.

I had thought the future was here, but in September I realized that the second half of the future was still coming. The second half would occur when I actually moved to Bellevue and started living in Washington. I changed my plans to be in Bellevue for a couple days every week, because being in the office every week was going to work better for the job. I started looking around at apartment complexes in different locations in the Seattle/Bellevue area.

In the second full week of September, I went to Bellevue for three days. I got back on a Thursday. Sunday, I started feeling sick. I got tested and tested positive for COVID, which I certainly got at some point in that trip. I’m pretty diligent with masks and distancing, but apparently not diligent enough.

Thank goodness I was vaccinated back in April 2021. Having COVID was like a nasty cold, or a sinus infection, or a mild flu, I had all the symptoms – cough, headache, sore throat, sinus congestion, tiredness, body ache – all unpleasant, but not the life-threatening incident it very well could have been.

I spent two weeks doing my 10 days (plus a few more) of COVID isolation. Once I was through my isolation, in the beginning of October, I drove back up to Bellevue for a week of work in the office to finish out a project and start on a new project. I started looking at houses to rent, because I had realized I wanted to live in a house. Last week, I toured a house with the owner. We got along really well, and he agreed to let me rent the house. I signed the lease last week!

Now that I have a place to live, I’m looking at moving companies to arrange a move with a target date of mid-November.

The future is still coming. The second part will be here in about another month. This life in my Davis apartment has been an “in-between” (or limbo) life, where I’m in-between my old life (married, old job, in Sacramento) and my new life (single, new job, in Bellevue). Life has been simple, which is nice, but I’m ready to begin a new chapter of my life. And in some ways, excited to see what it will bring.

One more month, and the new chapter begins.

– yeff

Short End-of-2020 Catchup

I haven’t done any posts for a while so here’s a short end-of-year post.

Well, it’s the end of 2020. This astonishing, difficult, and unprecedented year is finally ending. I actually believe (and hope) that 2021 will be a much better year for the world, for the USA, and for me personally.

During the rest of the year I primarily worked, wrote, and tried to stay fit and maintain good eating habits. I mostly succeeded. Definitely did the first two (working and writing). Was very good about bike riding and some strength work. Eating, again not bad, but probably more snacks and cookies than I needed. I blame the pandemic!

On the writing front, I have spent a good chunk of my non-work time writing plays for The Pulp Stage in Portland. I am now part of their in-house stable of writers. Pulp Stage does online (Facebook Live) productions of short 10-minute plays. I’ve had two monologues and three plays produced by them, with a fourth coming in January 2020.

The plays are “prompt-based”, meaning the audience suggests prompts at one production and the writers incorporate those prompts into plays for the next production. For example, the prompts “staircase” and “first breakup” were used to create the November 2020 plays including my play “Alien Abduction” (which was a lot of fun to write). Working on the plays has been a definitely highlight of my 2020 pandemic year.

In 2021, I do want to get back to short fiction while continuing to write plays. Hopefully my dialogue skills and STAB (Stakes, Trackability, Accountability, Build) skills have improved through working with Pulp Stage. I’ll have to see how much the rest of the skills (such as narrative voice and sensory communication and character voice) have withered away.

I’m very ready to put 2020 to rest. I looking forward to 2021 in very many ways as I move forward in my life.


My Life, A Status Report


  • Busy Jan/Feb, then Coronavirus
  • Marriage Separation
  • Working at Home, Layoffs Pending
  • Some Exercise
  • Getting Back to Writing
  • No Math Contests
  • Solitary Existence
  • Overall, feeling pretty good

I haven’t posted to the blog in 3 months. That’s because the first three months of 2020 were astoundingly busy. At least, the first two months of 2020 along with the first week of March, were astoundingly busy. The rest of March was, well, March. A March haunted and altered by the coronavirus epidemic.

January and February I was busy with work deadlines, and running about 8 math contests, and taking a Writing The Other online class, and trying to exercise, and just trying to keep up with the rest of life. I was stressed, I was tired, I was realizing that I was overloaded but there was nothing I could change about it I just needed to get through it.

By the time I left for the Rainforest Village Writers Retreat at the end of February, I was worn out. Luckily the Retreat was incredibly relaxing and a great recovery. I could feel the stress just melting away on the drive from Portland with Dale Ivan Smith, and the four days there were a tremendous recovery. I was also very productive with writing as well!

While there I heard that there was a coronavirus outbreak in a nursing home in Seattle. Fellow attendees mentioned that family members told them there were shopping runs on toilet paper and cleaning products and milk. But still, we didn’t worry about it too much.

I came back from Rainforest for a few days of work and then the FOGCon sci-fi convention in the SF Bay Area. By then, we were all more nervous about coronavirus so we made sure to practice non-touching greeting (the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper was the favorite) and wash hands all the time. FOGCon was nice, I saw people I hadn’t seen for a while.

After that it was a week of more coronavirus news from China, and Italy, and Iran. The new was getting more and more dire. The Bay Area had a recommendation for people to work at home, and that recommendation was quickly becoming a requirement. We were hearing similar things in Sacramento and Yolo Counties (where I live and where I work).

Monday March 16 I took home most of the computers I use at work, for both development and testing. Wednesday of that week Yolo County issued a mandatory stay-at-home and the work buildings closed. Luckily, I was well equipped and could be productive at home. I actually have the best development/test setup of any of the engineers, so while I’m primarily architecture and development I’ve been doing a lot of testing as well.

In the middle of the start of coronavirus and the job issues, my spouse and I separated. The separation had been a long time coming. We’d drifted apart over the years, and a few years ago realized the relationship wasn’t working. We started therapy sessions to understand what happened and where we were and what we wanted to do about it. The result was there wasn’t really enough connection between us to keep the marriage going.

So last October we agreed that separation was what we both wanted. We held off doing anything until we could talk to our daughters (who are 25 and 19). We were going to talk to them at the holidays, but didn’t because our younger daughter was stressed about school. In February my spouse moved into an apartment, so at the end of February we went down to Santa Barbara and told our younger daughter, then told our older daughter when we returned. They both did okay with it. We were all sad, but we emphasized to them that this was an amicable separation, we were both still friends, we were still a family, and they would always have a home.

So I’m in the house right now, just me and the dog. Longer term, my spouse’s plan is to work in New Zealand for at least 6 months starting in August. I’ll stay in the house until she returns, then I will likely move to Davis, where my work is.

That is, if I still have my job.

Two weeks after we started working at home, it was announced that layoffs were coming. Business had decreased dramatically (we are adjunct to the oil and gas business), so dramatically that the money from corporate along with our own revenue wasn’t going to be enough to keep everyone employed. I’m in software, and we’ve long been told that software is a critically understaffed resource in that every project needed software and we didn’t have enough software people (one of the downsides of being fairly close to the Bay Area). So we’ll see how deep into the software group the cuts go, and if the cuts take me with them. Supposedly, the decisions have been made. I’m assuming we will hear this week, quite possibly Monday (April 12).

I’m surprisingly mellow with the layoff possibility. I’m lucky in that I’m in a desired field, and more importantly I have a lot of money saved up. And I don’t get my health care from work, but through my spouse (for now). So if the layoff happens, I plan to take some time to consider what I want to do next. I want to work in robotics for the rest of my career, so I’m wiling to make changes to make that happen. I could see moving to pick up a job I really want, versus just taking any job that comes along. After all, I’m not tied to this area. I can really go anywhere.

In the middle of the busy January/February, exercise and fitness suffered. For my birthday, I used a previous work bonus to get a basic, but good, bike, and once I moved home I started riding it at lunchtime. This was a tremendous help for my fitness, but also for my sanity and well-being. The rides have been brief, but intense, and really help burn off stress and anxiety. I’ve also started doing basic bodyweight workouts a couple days a week as well, and those too are very helpful.

In the midst of all this, writing suffered. I hadn’t done much in January and February. I took the Writing The Other class, but immediately fell behind and wasn’t able to contribute as much as I would have liked. This was a shame, as the class was excellent and exactly what I was looking for.

I also applied to Clarion and Clarion West, because why not? I was not accepted to either workshop, nor was I waitlisted. I wasn’t surprised. I honestly don’t think I’m a good enough writer to get accepted and that my writing is not as fluid and literary as I believe both workshops are looking for. No worries, I’m just going to try to improve and keep applying.

But I have been bringing writing back the last week, writing a couple mornings and doing some on the weekend. I also linked up with the Pulp Stage Players in Portland (run by Matt Haynes) and have been contributing to their writing collective, so hopefully I can finish some pieces which get performed in Pulp Stage! My involvement is really bringing back the old theatre bug, and I’m enjoying the experience.

No math contests, of course, since math contests are very much an in-person experience and thus would be great locations for coronavirus to spread. So, we’ll see when they can come back safely. I have been doing some online coaching as part of what would have been prep for the nationwide ARML contest.

So here I am. My weekdays I write or workout in the morning, work all day with a lunch break to ride my bike or workout, then in the evening I either email or chat with friends or watch some TV and keep the house clean. I’ve been doing a lot of ZOOM video sessions with friends and family on the weekend, some math coaching, and general hanging out in the house (catching up on TV/movies).

One thing I’ve realized is I need to start minimizing my life. My goal is to be living in only part of the house so that when I move to an apartment or smaller house in a year I’m not overwhelmed with stuff.

It’s funny. My mental model had been that once my spouse and I had separated, I’d take time to just be myself and figure out who I was, and what I wanted, and how I wanted to live. Well, now I have plenty of time to be myself and be by myself. I’m finding I like it. I do miss being around people more often, but I like doing what I want when I want and how I want. I guess I’m an introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert. Or something along those lines.

But overall, I’m in a surprisingly good mood. I’m less stressed, amazingly, I think because I have less going on in my life. I’m looking positively towards the future.

A lot has occurred in the last month (March felt like FOREVER), and since the start of 2020, and even in the last few years. My life is changing and will keep changing. I feel like I’m at the start of a new phase of my life. I’ll just have to keep moving forward and see how much “new” I get.

– yeff


Review: THE BOYS (TV Show)

(I actually wrote this post back in September and realized recently I hadn’t posted it. Here it is).

I like a deconstructionist superhero narrative. I like a story that tries to look behind the superhero genre and actually create real characters out of the archetypes that form our images of the superhero. WATCHMEN is still one of my favorite superhero stories. Superheroes like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones are my favorite because they seem like real people. In some of my writing, I like to create superhero stories that treat the superheroes as real people and explore their needs and wants.

Superheroes in the “real world”, with flaws and issues, is a subject I find intriguing. A show like THE BOYS would seem to be entirely in my alley of interest. And it definitely was. I’ve been curious about the show since it premiered.  I binge-watched it over the course of about 3 evenings.

There are aspects of THE BOYS which I enjoyed. As mentioned, these superheroes are also real people and they have interests, and flaws, and character quirks. These superheroes exist in a corporate-driven world, which treats them like property to be molded and marketed and sold to benefit the corporate interests. It’s a blend of sports heroes and movie characters, and the show does an excellent job of having the superheroes be images to be marketed (lunch boxes, store displays, movies, tv shows, school visits, public appearances, etc.). I find this totally “realistic” in a believable yet disappointing yet inevitable way.

There are also levels of superheroes, in terms of ability and prominence. Some superheroes have almost no ability (I recall someone who could make flowers grow). Some superheroes grow spikes out of their arms and are solid hand to hand fighters but end up doing soft-core sexy superhero movies (Popclaw). Some are supremely power and end up part of The Seven, the top superhero group in the USA. (Maybe even the world, but we never get any information about that.)

THE BOYS is about two people who become involved with The Seven. The first is a young man, Hughie, whose girlfriend Robin is accidentally killed by superhero A-Train, the “Flash” equivalent of The Seven, who run through her in the street. The second is a young woman from the Midwest, Annie, who is a superhero with the name Starlight and ends up being invited to join The Seven.

Hughie ends up teaming up with a vigilante named Billy who is out for vengeance against The Seven because his wife, who worked for the corporate entity behind the Seven, was raped by Homelander, the “Superman” equivalent who leads the Seven.

Annie quickly discovers that being a part of The Seven is not at all what she thought it would be. She is manipulated into sex by The Deep (the Aquaman equivalent). She is lecherously spied upon by the invisible man. She discovers that Homelander is a controlling megalomaniac. Queen Maeve (the Wonder Woman equivalent) is burned out and disenchanted with everything about being a superhero.

Hughie and Annie meet innocently and fall for each other and begin a relationship. During this, Hughie continues his vigilante actions against the superheroes, ending int he death of Translucent. Eventually all is discovered, and the first season ends with relationships torn asunder, characters dying, and the rules seemingly changed

Again, a deconstructionist superhero narrative with many interesting aspects.

But where the show THE BOYS falls down for me is where so many shows and narratives fall down for me nowadays. The narrative is designed so that you end up “rooting for sociopaths” (a phrase I heard on Pop Culture Happy Hour).

Most of the characters of THE BOYS are sociopaths. More specifically, most if not all of the male characters are sociopaths. Homelander, The Deep, Translucent, Black Noir, Hughie, Billy. They are all maladjusted, dangerous, people who don’t care about others but just care about themselves and their needs and their wants. The women of THE BOYS are there to be the moral centers of the show, to soothe and forgive the actions of the men (Queen Maeve, Starlight). Or they are there to be murdered and revenged or manipulated or exploited (Billy’s wife, Hughie’s girlfriend, PopClaw) Even the lead of the corporation, Madelyn Stillwell, a powerful woman who is able to manipulate the superheroes into doing the corporate bidding (and who notably was a male in the comic book) still ends up existing at the whim of Homelander.

In addition, the story is completely America-centric. Towards the end they do bring in the existence of superheroes in another country, and it is of course in the context of a super-powered terrorist who attacks American troops. It looks like this plotline will be the central plot line of the second season. The construction of the show, with a corporate injecting a super-serum equivalent into children via vaccinations is also unfortunately designed to accentuate anti-vaxxer sentiments and make it real. Which adds another aspect of sociopathy to the situations of the show.

While I was binge-watching THE BOYS I wondered what would happen next and what turns the narrative would take. Eventually it felt like so many other shows in that it’s really about the sociopaths who drive the narrative and it is designed to make me root and cheer for them.

One could say that the world works like this. There are powerful people who are sociopaths who are able to manipulate the systems of the world and get their way. American is the dominant world power in terms of cultural influence and economic influence. Why should superheroes be any different?

It’s a good question. I’d like to see a narrative that is different. I’d also like to see what happens when that assumption of the previous paragraphs runs into people who are determined to make it a different narrative, whether they have superpowers or not. Not because their wives/girlfriends were injured or killed by the current situation, but because they realize it needs to be different. THE BOYS could be that show, but it’s not. Instead it relies on what feel like tired tropes of narrative and power and in the end tries to get viewers to root for the sociopaths.

– yeff

RIP, MacBookPro2012

The Saturday before Thankgiving, I was running math contests. I was getting ready for the last event called Countdown, in which I project problems on a screen and pairs of students race to see who can solve the problem first. I use my MacBook Pro throughout competitions to handle scanning and grading students tests, and I use it to run Countdown.

I closed the MacBookPro, walked over to the testing room, opened it, and … nothing. No screen display. I’d had some battery charge flakiness recently, so I powered it off, plugged it in, and powered it on. Nothing. It looked like the computer was on as I could see light under the keyboard. So I tried again. I tried opening and closing it again. Nothing.

Eventually I had to cancel Countdown. At home, the same behavior. I left it plugged into power overnight, and tried again Sunday. Same.

Monday I took it into the local repair shop, which has repaired it in the past. They called and said that the computer was really dirty, and that the video chip needed re-sautering. So they did that, and Wednesday it was ready. In the shop, it powered up just great. I took it to the office, and it wouldn’t power up. Back to the shop, it did power up. Obviously it liked the shop a lot.

I said I’d try it over the Thanksgiving weekend and see how it went. Over the next few days, I tried powering it on again and again. I got it to turn on maybe twice. Once, I did a bunch of email. The next time, I tried a backup before going to sleep but when I came in the next morning the computer was off and wouldn’t turn on again.

Back to the shop after Thankgiving. They called after a couple days and said the motherboard was dead and couldn’t be saved. Their recommendation was just to buy a new laptop. So, after some decision and financial review, I’m now the proud owner of a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

And the 2012 15-inch Mac Book Pro is no more.

I’ll be selling its parts (screen, cables, keyboard, etc.) to the repair shop for them to transplant into other needy computers. I am, of course, keeping the hard drive after I get my data from it and onto the new computer.

When I buy computers, I like to buy computers that will last me a very long time and I have a track record of making good choices. I purchased the old MacBook Pro in the tail end of 2012, when I had decided to leave HP and join Schilling Robotics. While at HP I used my work Windows laptop for everything, so this was the first MacBook I’d had in a while (I had a PowerBook100 and PowerBook170 in the late Apple and early HP days before getting a work laptop, and I’d missed Mac laptops).

Since then, the MacBookPro2012 and I have been constant companions. We’ve traveled around the world – England, Ireland, Canada, Cuba, France, Japan – and all over the United States. I’ve run tons of math contests using it, have written a bazillion emails, and created many stories that I’ve enjoyed and even some that I’ve sold. I replaced the keyboard at least once, replaced the battery, and also the screen connector. I spilled chai tea all over it at least once, it had a dent in one side from my rough handling, and it was missing a few screws (just like its owner).

I basically ran my life through that MacBookPro for more than seven years. It was a good, faithful, productive laptop until the day it went to the great beyond. I’m getting a little dewy-eyed just thinking about it.

I’ll post some pictures on twitter (@jeffsoesbe) when I get them together.

Here’s to you, 2012 MacBookPro. You were awesome. Your successor will have a lot to live up to.

— yeff