Posts Tagged 'robotics'

Three is a BIG Number

When you’re stressed, tired or just four months old, three can seem like an awfully large number.  We had three events today, all of them sizable, and all of them enjoyable (when taken one at a time, per day).

First, a movie!  I love movies, and I especially love Pixar movies.  Today we saw what may soon be known as my favorite movie – WALL*E.  I generally consider movies either one of my favorites because I don’t want to actually say one good movie was better than another good movie.  In this case, though, you’ve got some great animation, wonderful characters, good story, fun laughs, stunning visuals and strong emotional elements.  Before this movie I loved Stardust, A Knight’s Tale, The Incredibles, and a few others – each as one of my favorites.  Now, though, I may begin saying that WALL*E is my favorite movie (until I find something better).

After the movie my five-year-old had to go to the bathroom and I was left holding Sophie in the lobby.  There was a huge, cardboard model of WALL*E, so I had the baby pose for some pictures in front.  Click on the smaller images to see larger ones:

Next, a birthday party for two little girls each turning one in the same month.  Silly?  Yes.  Excuse for adults to get together and drink?  Also.  We left at the first signs of tipsiness from one of the hostesses.  Not because she was getting drunk, but because we have a four-month-old and we had other things to do.

Before I leave the subject of that little party, I have to mention that it is so funny to watch the four-month-old baby when she gets her little fist wrapped around a Twizzler and starts to suck on it.  She absolutely loved the Twizzlers and the chips (don’t worry, I only let her suck until they got too soft but before they broke apart).  She also enjoyed sucking on ice and baby carrots.  Oh, and Laffy-Taffy.  She enjoyed the Laffy-Taffy for almost fifteen minutes.

Finally we headed over to the home of our friends (D’n’A) and ate dinner.  After dinner we played some games among screaming babies.  It was a good time despite my utter exhaustion and high stress levels.  I get stressed for reasons most people would scoff at, and the stress often gets worse if I begin worrying about whether my stress and social awkwardness are making others uncomfortable with me.  Fortunately for our friends D’n’A, I don’t stress much at their house because I don’t worry about whether they are uncomfortable with me or not.

At last we ended up at home with a very tired baby girl who had too much to do in one day.  I played a few minutes of a Wii game while my wife fed the baby, then I started typing this (which turned into a much longer project than I thought).  I think I hear the baby making some noise now, so I’m off to work.  Soon I’ll begin writing for the sake of writing again.  For now I’ve been using this mainly for family updates.  Before long I’ll get back to work!

Favorite Superheroes

In an effort to distract myself from all things stressful and real, I decided to dedicate my writing hour to honoring the greatest men in faux-history, as far as I see it. What follows is an exploration of a few of my most favorite superheroes. Among them there are three that got their start in the comic books, and one that didn’t (as far as I know).

First up is the man who has always been at the top of my list. I think the greatest appeal any of these heroes has with me is that they are ordinary guys. None of them has a super power that separates them from me by a super-margin like the one between me and Superman. The only thing that keeps me from actually being any of these heroes is money, and in some cases technology that hasn’t yet been developed.

Again, first up is one I have had at the top of the list since as long as I can remember. Batman. Rich, secretive, loves technology and gadgets, and is a smart crime-solving detective. That’s me in a nutshell… Well, if I had it my way, that is. Sure, a lot of the toys and gadgets he uses are a little out of reach (for now), but it’s nice to dream.

I’m especially in love with the Tumbler, his Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Night. Sometimes, when I’m driving around in my car, I imagine that I’m in the Tumbler.

Even better than having to drive in the first place would be flying, and my next two super heroes can do just that (without mystical powers).

Next, then, is Iron Man. Batman’s resourcefulness comes from his gadgetry first, then from his costume. Iron Man is the costume. No gadgets here (which does make me a little sad, since I love gadgets), just pure awesomeness in the form of an exoskeleton suit and some pretty impressive computer programming, both of which I love.

I’ve always been into robotics, and exoskeleton research is a big spin off/byproduct/sister project of robotics. With the recent release of the Iron Man movie, many people have been talking about the technology behind such a suit.

Oh, if you haven’t seen the movies I’m talking about, you really should. They’re all excellent films.

Since I saw the Iron Man movie, I’ve been wondering what it would be like if you combined the two heroes, Batman and Iron Man, into one really cool hero. I’ve decided that, while it might be overkill, it would be pretty cool.

For the final of my comic-book-based heroes, I give you an older one: The Rocketeer. This one goes way back to my childhood. In fact, I’d venture to say that I wanted to be the Rocketeer before I wanted to be Batman (but I’m not sure because it’s a close call).

Though not as technologically advanced, the Rocketeer does have something we’re still working on – a jet pack. Even without an exoskeleton or a bunch of gadgets, having a jet pack would be awesome.

I think the Rocketeer must have made a great comic too, because he really is just an ordinary guy with one thing that sets him apart from the rest of us, that cool rocket pack. Other than that, he’s not a super genius, he’s doesn’t have a ton of money to buy whatever technology or gadgets he wants, and more of us can identify with him for it.

The movie is still one of my favorites, and it never gets old (right up there with Short Circuit , but we’ll talk about robots another time).

As you may have noticed, we’re working our way down from most gadgets to the least, but we’ve covered varied amounts of technological integration. My final hero is just a man with a bunch of gadgets, but he’s got so many other qualities I love that I had to add him to my list.

I suppose he’s really not considered a “superhero” by most, but James Bond has always been a favorite of mine. I especially loved the portrayal of him in the recent film Casino Royale.

Though I wouldn’t ever want to be the womanizer that he is, I admire just about everything else in the character. I especially love his resourcefulness, intelligence and wit. Plus, he always dresses pretty sharp, which is great.

You know what’s funny? As I’ve written this, my list of heroes has been growing. So far, I’ve realized that a list of my favorite heroes in fiction would never be complete without Sherlock Holmes. It was his work (well, the writings of Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle) that helped me realize how much I love using my mind to solve problems and analyze the people and world around me. When it comes to awesomeness, you would be pressed to find a better man than Jason Bourne from the Bourne series of books and movies. Though I don’t actually know much about him, there is one more comic book character that I was a big fan of when I was young. Dick Tracy. I think the main reason I loved him was for his video phone watch. Anyhow, that just illustrates my deep love for gadgets.

No matter how many fictional heroes I may want to be like, there is one real guy (well, two) who I’ve actually met and I model my life after him (them) every day. I say two because the first, obviously, is my father. I don’t just say that because it’s what everyone says. My dad is a true hero and someone that more than just his children can look up to for a great example of how to live. The second is someone I served with for just over a year and a half, but in that short time he helped me more than any one person aside from my parents. He was my mission president in Mexico, President Alonso.

I love and look up to both of them, but I really want to be like the fictional characters here because it would be fun.


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