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Maybe I am just getting too old, but people are starting to get to me with the silly things they do.

Drivers

While sitting in traffic the other day, in a line of cars just before the road shrank from three lanes to two, I was watching how folks acted when they knew they had to merge. (I saw more than a few staring at their phones while driving, by the way!)

I was in the middle lane just before where the left-most lane was going to disappear. There had been signs to that effect for over a mile. The middle lane was full of cars who knew enough to get ready for the end of the lane. There was probably room for two cars between where I was and the end of the left lane. Still, several folks tried to push past me and nose their way in front of me. When I failed to let one of them push between me and the car in front of me, the driver acted like he had the right of way. I even got a one-fingered salute. Too bad! Who appointed you Master of the Universe?

Then I started thinking about it (while seeing that driver glare at me from his position behind me. He did ace the driver behind me with his terror tactics!) Gee, was I in the wrong there? Did he really have the right of way? Why should he have paid attention to the signs telling him their lane was ending and got in line with the rest of us?

Some would say I was tempting fate. There are enough crazy people around, this one might have crashed into me just to make a point! You never know these days! Naw, he was driving a Lexus.

I love it when a semi-driver solves this kind of problem by pushing the rig over into the left lane blocking these bozos from zooming past him when there really is no room for them.

Hmmm.

Let's move this entire scene to the movie theater. There are two lines waiting for tickets, and someone decides to run up to the front and push into the line in front of those waiting. What do you think will happen. I would really like to be there to see! Is there really any difference in these two situations? If so, I simply cannot see it. Maybe their car gives them special powers!

Some folks, when they get in their cars, think they are privileged, and should be ahead of everyone else. I used to think there was a clause in the Mercedes and BMW handbooks (maybe even in the Lexus book as well) giving them this authority, but I may be wrong about that!

In the end, I suspect that common courtesy just gets lost in their haste to get where they are going. Obviously, they are more important than the rest of us, and we should know that! Too bad it makes them look like idiots!

Student Success

Some years ago, I was a member of a committee working to find ways to help our students succeed in college. This is something I care about, I want them to have as much fun in their career ans I have had in mine! I approach each class I teach with the goal of helping them get ready for that first job interview. I want them to stand out, and really impress that potential employer with their skills, and their knowledge, not just of the core material they were supposed to learn in school, but with how professionals in their field work on a daily basis.

Sadly, some students seem to feel that they too are entitled to special privileges. The ones I feel the worst about are the ones who will "borrow" someone else's work and pass it off as their own. Unfortunately, I have had that happen six times in my tenure as a Professor, and that really bothers me.

This semester, I started adding an "Academic Integrity" requirement to my lab projects. Each student has to include a file containing a personalized statement that they are submitting their own work for this lab assignment. I cannot be sure they will honor that statement, but I can at least make them formally lie to me. If I spot another attempt (and I am pretty good at doing that), they have heard they will fail the course.

Of course, not all students act like this, most do honor the professional codes of conduct. But those few who do not? What in the world leads them to think this is the right way to act?

Politicians

Then there was that news item this week of a city council passing an ordinance that people are not allowed to stink in public. OMG, I would hate to be on the Police Force in that town. Their officers now have to walk around sniffing all the citizens. That will sure go over well!

I remain convinced that many in politics are not there to help people, they are there to control them, and have them act according to rules they decide are appropriate. Just watch your political system at work, and you decide!

Sigh!

Maybe I just need more sleep.

Best Robotics

Just to end on a good note, today I attended the kickoff meeting for the Capitol Area BEST Robotics Competition, where teams of middle and high-school students compete in an event with robots they have to build themselves. Actually, the event provides most of the equipment they need to build the robots, but they have to design, build and operate the gadgets themselves. The robots are not autonomous, they are radio controlled, but they have to solve some manufacturing challenge. This year, they assemble something that looks like a wind turbine with long blades, and have to hoist the assembly up on the end of a tower-like pole. The teams can cooperate with other teams to earn more points. It is anything but easy!

Here is a robot from last year's event:

BEST Robot

I am a judge for the event to be held in 42 days. I did this last year and had a ball. These kids are sharp, and they will be the ones who succeed in this life. I sure wish they had events like this when I was a kid.

Oh well, I had the Smithsonian and could dream of becoming an engineer and scientist. I think I made it happen!

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