May 5, 2002

Index Page

Late Spring

Dear Family,

This year Craig has been involved in the Coming of Age program at our fellowship.  This program for high-school aged kids encourages development of independence and values in a semi-structured way. Each participant chooses an adult mentor to work with.  Sometimes as a group and sometimes with their mentors they work and discuss.

One of the last activities of the Coming of Age program is a weekend long retreat.  This year's CoA group held their retreat at Spencer's farm northeast of Chapel Hill.   This is a working farm, producing  some crops and raising livestock, including horses.  The farm is also run as a summer camp and afternoon after school program.

This yurt provided overnight sleeping quarters for the CoA crowd

The retreat was held a couple of weeks ago, April 13, on an incredibly beautiful spring weekend.  The most interesting part of the retreat is the vision quest.  The kids each chose their own piece of woods and then spent 6 hours there on Saturday afternoon.  They each stay alone in their spot, meditating, being with the woods, and fending off an occasional mosquito.

The photo at left is Craig standing on the fallen tree where he spent his 6 hour vision quest.  When I picked him up I asked him to show me where he'd spent his time and him how it went.  He said it was boring at first, but after he'd been on his fallen tree for an hour or so it stopped being boring and he enjoyed the rest of his time there.

This past Sunday the Coming of Age youth were the focal point of the service at ERUUF.  They each spent about five minutes at the pulpit talking about who they are, what they believe, and where they hope they are going.  It is an opportunity for them to introduce themselves as adults to the fellowship, and for the fellowship to begin to see these young men and women as adults.  It was a truly wonderful service.

A couple of weeks ago we were visited by a large black snake.  He showed up in a garden near our front door as I was about to weed it  I guess I annoyed him with my camera, as he eventually slithered across the front steps and departed into the woods.

Black snakes are harmless to people.  They are not poisonous.  A snake this size (about 4 feet long) eats mice and other small mammals, hopefully including the moles that tear up our back yard from time to time.

NetApp will soon celebrate 10 years as a corporation.  Here is the official corporate picture of the RTP office, taken to celebrate the occasion.  We'll have a party with a keg and a band on 5/16 to celebrate.

Nearly all the trees are fully leafed out by now.  Everything has that new spring feel, but we've already had a couple of hot summer days, harbingers of more to come.

In other news, Craig is part of the Science Olympiad team that Durham Academy will send to the national competition.

Craig was part of DA's junior varsity team at the regional competition.  Most sophomores are on the JV team, and the events on the varsity team that Craig most wanted were taken by upper classmen.

Craig did quite well in 2 of his 3 events, and the JV team as whole placed third (I think).  The varsity team won the event and went on to compete at state-level competition.  The varsity team went on to place first in the state as well, earning the right to compete nationally in Delaware on May 18.  Unfortunately, that same weekend DA's track team is competing at the state competition in track and field.  Some of the Science Olympiad team are also on the track team and chose to go to the track meet.  As a result there were spaces on the national team that had to be filled.

Craig's three events are Cow-a-bungee, Boom-i-lever, and Scrambler Car.  All three are building events, and each is a 2-person team.  For Scrambler car, you must build a car that is powered by a falling weight.  After the car has been entered, the team is given a distance.  The team is scored by how close they can get the car to going that exact distance without going farther.  DA seniors apparently built a very successful Scrambler Car, and Craig and his friend need only to understand how to set it up, repair it if necessary, and run it in the competition.

In the Boom-i-lever event, the team must build a cantilever that attaches to a wall.  There are complex rules regarding the design and materials that may be used.  The cantilever is tested to destruction by adding weight to the end.  The winning team builds the canitlever that holds the most weight.  Craig is paired with a friend who built the Boom-i-lever entries for the regional and state competition, so Craig's is mostly a supporting role.

Cow-a-bungee will be Craig's chance to show his stuff.  This is an event that was not competed in North Carolina, at either regional or state competition.  His partner is too busy studying for AP tests to help much.  Craig has to build a bungee cord.  Before the competition starts, the cord is inspected to see if it obeys the rules, and then impounded.  After all of the entries are impounded, two drops are announced.  Each drop involves dropping a weight of between 75 and 350 grams a distance of 2 to 10 meters.  The cord must prevent the weight from touching the bottom, and your score is how close to the bottom you can get the weight.  When it is your turn to drop, you have 5 minutes to set up your cord, then 5 minutes to perform the 2 drops.  You get one chance at each drop.

The cord must be stretchy enough that the bottom 1 meter of cord, stretches to 1.25 meters long if a 500 gram weight is hung from it.  There must be no attempt to prevent the cord from stretching too far or to prevent the weight from bouncing up at the end of its drop.

So Craig and I have been working with rubber bands and weights and measuring devices.  For the physicists among you, I ask if you can provide a formula for the tension in a rubber band as a function of how much it has been stretched.  Hint: the answer is not linear.


This week I'm on a road trip, talking to prospective customers in California, Texas, and Colorado.  I should have some pictures from the road in next week's letter.

Love to you all,