YDSC 2022 Nationals story

By: Joseph Nelson

Image taken from a livestream

Tearing a remote control drone around a series of obstacles in a race against the best pilots in the nation can be pretty nerve-wracking. Now imagine those obstacles are the accumulated Golden Gloves, Cy Youngs, and Silver Sluggers of the two-time World Series Champion Minnesota Twins.

That was the scene May 1st, 2022, at Truly On Deck – the elite clubhouse fan space at the Twins’ Target Field. Drone racing. At a baseball stadium?

The Youth Drone Sports Championships was pleased to have the Twins host their second annual National Championships, featuring 19 of the nation’s most elite drone pilots, under the age of 18, facing off head to head. It is a brand new sport taking shape and making history amid the trophies of one of our nation’s oldest.

These young pilots came from all across America to fly against the best of the best with their drones. Nationals was the place to be to make a name for yourself in this very young and growing sport, with everyone flying for the title of 2022 National Champion.

But how did we get here? How did this young sport come to be? And how do you race drones?

First-person-view (FPV) drone racing is the child of video gaming. Pilots put on goggles that connect to a camera centered on the drone allowing them to see what their drone sees. These drones aren’t bigger than a deck of cards and weigh no more than one ounce, making them agile enough to rip around race courses like a hummingbird. Imagine getting to be one of the pilots in ‘Star Wars’ attacking the Death Star, but doing so safely indoors without fear of injury.

Apple Valley hosted the first ever YDSC event in 2019 (before it was called the YDSC). The home flyers faced St. Louis Park in the first ever Minnesota State High School Drone Racing Tournament, which saw tiny drones built by students pushed to their limits on a course through Apple Valley High School’s expansive atrium. St. Louis Park soared to the first ever state team title, while Apple Valley 11th grader Andrew Martin (pilot name “AND E”) was crowned the first individual state champion.

Continuing to pivot with the pandemic, the YDSC added pilots around the country all competing online in the simulator. When vaccines made in-real-life (IRL) racing possible again, they held their first National Championship event at the Mall of America in June of 2021 where Apple Valley sophomore Cody “Viper” Anderson narrowly beat senior Haven “Vanadium” Gurka from Phoenix, Arizona to become the YDSC’s first national individual champion.

Fast forward to Spring 2022 with new stars emerging in a combined season of simulator and IRL racing. Apple Valley senior Brock “BRO F” Martin won the simulator individual crown and then followed in his older brother Andrew’s flight path, taking the latest Minnesota State individual title, racing through the big gym at Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

YDSC 2022 Nationals Story

That set up the YDSC’s return to Target Field for their 2nd Annual National Championships event, again made possible by the innovators at NCAT who support all of the STEM skill building happening in this exciting new tech sport.

At the end of the bracket, four pilots remained, Reigning National Champion Cody “Viper” Anderson (11th grade), his Apple Valley teammate Brock “BRO F” Martin (12th grade), Lakeville North’s Jack “Happy” Postlewaite (9th grade) and Joe “Boomer” Nelson from St. Paul Highland Park (10th grade).

When the rotors stopped turning, Viper retained his YDSC national title, outflying Happy who finished strong in second. Boomer followed close behind in third, and BRO F was fourth after experiencing technical difficulties that drone pilots know all too well.

Viper will be flying to keep the national crown, only he has worn, for one more year before he is bumped up to the collegiate level. That’s where his teammate BRO F is headed to fly with his brother AND E. Meanwhile, Boomer and Happy and a cast of other contenders will be aiming for Viper like Vader chasing Skywalker.

West Mesa murders

By: Ren King and Violet Hirman

*Warning: This article contains information about sexual violence

The best murderers are the ones who have never been caught. Close seconds are the cases where nobody even realizes there’s been a murder.

February 2, 2009, Christine Ross took her dog Ruca on a walk on Albuquerque, New Mexico’s west side. Ruca discovered a bone sticking out of the dirt and brought it to Ross. Ross’s sister was a nurse, and confirmed it appeared to be a human femur bone. Police were called to the sight where they dug up grave after grave after grave.

In total, the skeletons from eleven bodies, and one unborn baby, were discovered, buried in makeshift graves all evenly spaced apart. They were all women, and all but one of them had ties to drugs and prostitution.

Investigators then made another chilling realization: the majority of the victims had previously been reported missing between the years 2003 and 2005.

The first to be identified was 15-year-old Syllannia Edwards in November of 2009, having been reported missing since 2003. She had last been seen in May of 2004, in the company of three other women, believed to be using the nicknames Mimi or Chocolate.

A few days later, Virginia Cloven and Evelyn Salazar were identified, gone missing in 2004.

Two months later, Salazar’s cousin, 15-year-old Jamie Barela was found, with both Barela and her cousin last seen at a family gathering in April of 2004. The two had been heading to a park in southeast Albuquerque when they disappeared. Barela was also the last victim to be dug up.

The other victims were 22-year-old Monica Candelaria, killed between 2003 and 2005. 26-year-old Victoria Chavez killed in 2005. 32-year-old Cinnamon Elks killed sometime between 2004 and 2005. 24-year-old Doreen Marquez between 2003 and 2005. 24-year-old Julie Nieto killed sometime between the same years. 28-year-old Veronica Romero between 2004 and 2005. And finally, 22-year-old Michelle Valdez between the latter years. Romero had been pregnant at the time, and the skeletal remains of her unborn child were also discovered with her.

Aerial photographs of the crime sight were discovered, and revealed off-road tire tracks in the West Mesa desert. With knowledge of grave locations, there are two identifiable graves at the time of the photo.

Right off the bat, and only seven days after Ross had discovered the bone, April Gillen, the first wife of Joseph Blea called the police saying they should look into him. Blea already faced sex-related charges and was currently serving a 90 year sentence in prison for four sexual assaults unrelated to the West Mesa Murders. His DNA was discovered on a dead prostitute in 1985, although he has never been charged in connection to that specific crime. He had more than 130 run-ins between 1990 and 2009 relating to prostitution and drugs in an area that several of the victims frequently traveled.

He had previously been reported exposing himself to women walking on Central Avenue, and investigators found rope and electrical tape in his car. More disturbingly, during the weeks following the discovery of the remains, Blea was noticed to be seemingly stalking prostitutes on the move. One woman was interviewed admitting that Blea had taken her to his house and tied her up against her will.

More and more evidence was being stacked up against Blea when his former cell-mate said he talked about the West Mesa Murders, and even said he knew the victims. He had paid them for sex acts and struck one of them when she tried to take his money.

Jewelry and women’s underwear were discovered by Blea’s daughter as well as his wife, Cheryl Blea, around the house and in their shed. One of the victim’s fathers claimed some of his daughter’s jewelry had gone missing. Due to the case still being open, forensic scientists will not release information regarding whether or not DNA on the jewelry matched that of any of the victims.

Blea’s former attorney, John McCall, claims Blea had nothing to do with the murders.

The case is still ongoing, and investigators don’t have any other leads (although they do have other suspects) to put to the test. A $100,000 reward is in place for any information leading to the conviction and incarceration of the perpetrator.. The question is: Are there other bodies yet to be discovered? And if Blea really isn’t the killer, where are they now?

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Nordic results

By: Ellie Moore

Image taken from: https://www.spps.org/sports

There were a lot of challenges standing in the way of Highland Park’s Nordic ski team as the girls team made another state meet appearance, along with the boys. Wind blowing around 30 MPH on Wednesday, combined with gusts up to 45 MPH made for tough racing conditions for Highland Park’s 2 relay teams.

The boys lost their number one skier, Davis Isom, because he made the US team for the Nordic National Cup. He would be in Finland during the state meet.

Relay teams made up of Delia Johnson and Ellie Moore for the girls and Tim Tzeutschler and Tad Foresman were the first racers for Highland’s historically successful nordic teams.

Johnson is one of only 2 senior girls on the Varsity squad, looking to help lead the very young team to yet another podium finish. “I’m so excited to represent our team in the relay at state!” Johnson said, “It’s different from the pursuit race and I’m looking forward to a challenge!”

The relay teams kicked off the meet with a strong start for Highland Park, with the girls finishing in 4th, and the boys finishing in 7th, both out of 24 teams.

“Tim and I didn’t end up with the result we were looking for due to some big falls on key parts of the course, but we always got back up and kept fighting,” relay skier Tad Foresman said, “Seventh place is not representative of the work we’ve put in this past couple of years, but we still put on our best possible performance with the obstacles we had been given.”

The pursuit races kicked off on Thursday, beginning with the classic ski 5k. Hanna Koch is ranked 3rd and Chloe Koch is within the top 10. For the boys, Ben Martin and Gavin Roberts are ranked in the top 25.

Sisters Hanna Koch and Chloe Koch were the top 2 finishers for Highland Park. Hanna finished the classic race in 5th place, with Chloe just 40 seconds back in 12th. Teammate Alex Pundsack finished the first race neck and neck with Chloe, just 0.3 seconds behind. Amelie Isom came in 41st and Grace Lewis Mosher in 62nd.

On the boys side, Ben Martin finished first on the Highland team in 15th overall. Gavin Roberts was only 18 seconds behind in 28th. Shaggy Reemtsma finished third for the Highland squad placing 52nd overall. Josh Thompson and Diego Bachman finished 81st and 106th.

Going into the skate race the girls were in second place behind Duluth East by 21 points. The boys were in second as well, 40 points behind Duluth East. This put both teams in a good position to podium but they would have to work for it.

The nordic state meet is a pursuit race meaning they would do two 5ks, one classic and one skate.

For the classic race everyone starts in 15 second intervals not knowing who is beating them or who they are beating. They then get a few hours to rest then ski a skate 5k. They start in the order that they finished the classic and whoever they pass, they beat.

In the skate race Hanna Koch finished first for the team in 5th overall. Chloe Koch and Alex Pundsack skied the entire race together. “It allowed us to push ourselves super hard and have fun out there,” Koch said. Amelie Isom and Grace Lewis-Mosher finished in 35th and 59th.

Ben Martin finished in 20th for the boys with Gavin Rovers close behind in 29th. Shaggy Reemtsma came in 46th as the last scorer for the boys. Josh Thompson and Diego Bachman were 88th and 105th.

In the end, both teams ended up placing 3rd.

The girls team is looking strong for next year only graduating 2 seniors, but the boys are graduating 5 of their 7 skiers. The girls team is hoping to podium again next year and hopefully the boys can too.

Do AIs tell of generated tales?

By: Hoaseng Thao

Image taken from: https://medium.com/m/global-i
Ftowardsdatascience.com%2Fhow-to-build-your-own-ai-chatbot-on-discord-c6b3 468189f4

What began with curiosity and a little boredom, ended with hundreds of texts and paths being generated by Artificial Intelligence all because of a single prompt being entered. A couple of weeks ago, from the date of this article, I found myself bored out of my mind as I had little to no homework given to me. One day, while scrolling through YouTube I found a video of a YouTuber and his friend interacting with an AI, but the most interesting thing about their interaction was that they were playing out a story generated by a prompt they wrote for the AI to understand. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided that I might as well try this AI thing out.

I scoured the internet in search of an AI chatbot that was free to use, but in reality I just typed in “AI Chatbot Free” on the google search bar. After a few minutes searching for an AI chatbot, I found a website called Beta.Character.AI, a website where people created their own AI chatbot for anyone to use for free. One thing that caught my eye with this website was the large variety of AI chatbots that you can choose from: you can choose to talk to historical people like George Washington or Napoleon, you can also interact with video game characters like Master Chief from the ‘HALO’ series or Mario from Nintendo, etc. There are no limits to what you can do on this website.

I have two examples of what you can do with an AI chatbot. The first example is me playing as a fictional country I created in @monkeys’s ‘country simulator’ chatbot. The second example is me chasing a pigeon in @Button_Quail-22’s pigeon chatbot.

I decided to begin my journey with @monkeys’s country simulator, I started the story of my fictional country with the text:

My fictional country is called the Federal States of the Ustovan Union, we are covering the Kamchatka Peninsula. My population is 10 million people and we are using the dollar as our currency. We are a democracy that has been created after the fall of the Soviet Union. The year is 2000, Chechnya was annexed back into Russia and it looks like we’re next.

Immediately after I entered the prompt, I was told by the AI that it seems like Russia was looking to annex my country. This was a big deal, so as a democratic country I decided to ask my people their opinion of Russia’s aggression towards us. The AI wrote back to me that the people were worried about an invasion but the AI also told me that the Russians delivered a letter saying that my country will be “annexed in 4 days”. I responded back to the Russians saying “get off my peninsula”, they responded with “an army of 300,000 soldiers at my border”.

The next few minutes of my story was me trying to defend my country while repeatedly asking for foreign aid, the foreign aid never came. After a few minutes I had fended off a major attack. I was later told that the United Nations was asking for permission for an intervention, one that I accepted immediately. The UN intervened and my country lives for another day.

After saving my country from being annexed, I decided to take a slow approach to AI by talking to @Button_Quail-22’s pigeon bot. I wanted to make this experience a bit comedic so I decided to write down the prompt: “I chased the pigeon because it stole my hat”.

As I chased the winged rat it began to mock me at every turn. One time I had chased the pigeon towards a tall building where the pigeon flew to the top of the building before saying I can’t reach them, so, in a fit of anger I decided to grab a pair of plungers and climb up the building, but as I climbed up the building the pigeon, pooped on my face.

This story would soon become the start of the Pigeon War, a war where I am constantly harassed by a pigeon every time I enter the park. I would win some battles and the pigeon would win some, but in the end there were no winners and I had to sign a peace treaty with the winged rat.

In the end, I had a blast generating these stories with the AI chatbots because there were no limits to what you write down for the AI. If you are bored out of your mind and need something to write about, I think it’s best to look into beta.character.ai if you are bored out of your mind or want to experience talking to AI for the first time.

If you want to try out the AI chatbots of beta.character.ai, please visit the official AI chatbot website: https://beta.character.ai/