Monday, May 25, 2009

Robot Birthday

Yesterday it was my birthday. I hung one more year on the line.* It ended up being sort of a robot-themed day, partially through coincidence, if you believe in such things. I had decided while watching trailers before seeing Star Trek that I wanted to see the new Terminator movie on my birthday (NERDS!!!). I did not know that my wife had already bought me this:

Inevitable, really. I've been fascinated with automation and figuring out how things work as far back as I can remember. The first symptom I remember came when I was about five or six and I picked out a Big Bruiser from the Sears Catalog for my number one Christmas present. If you are too young to remember the Sears Catalog in its heyday, think of it as a paper version of Amazon.

A year or so later I got an Erector set, and built a skyscraper with a working crane.

The year after that it was a crystal radio kit, which I still believe is magic. I mean, I put the thing together myself. I know there was no battery in it, but I could listen to the radio (almost) as well as people with batteries. That might be the first "What the Hell?!?!" experience I can remember.

Subsequent Christmases and birthdays saw a steady procession of telescopes, microscopes, chemistry sets,

rock collecting kits, crystal growing sets and dissection kits. That's right, kids. In those days you could buy something in the toy department that would help you carve up little woodland creatures that you might capture around the house. It came with a frog and a couple of bugs in formaldehyde**, but how long is that going to amuse a curious 10 year old boy with a scalpel, tweezers and low power microscope?

This was all in addition to the dozens of watches, clocks, toys, tools and household appliances that I took apart to see how they worked. Of course, this included many of the items mentioned above. In my defense, most were broken when I started, I got almost all of them back together with no pieces left over, and I actually fixed a few things.

Then I got older and put away childish things. Except for the year after I was married and got the Big Trak.

Oh, and then the rockets.

And the RoboRaptor.

The cats are pretty sure he is mentally challenged.

So, that's a roundabout and memory-filled way of saying I've always been a science nerd and a sucker for cool toys, and I suppose I always will be.
As for Terminator. It was good. Star Trek was better. Oh, and this is what I built with my robot kit:

I'll be back.


*With apologies to Paul Simon

** Kids today don't appreciate a good carcinogen in their toys like in our day. Nowadays you put a little lead in a toy car and everyone starts acting stupid. Oh,wait. Sorry.


  1. I would totally want a robot if I wasn't already afraid of the day when the Brotherhood of Machines rise against us.

  2. That's what I'm afraid of. I'm trying to build my own Cameron.

  3. I think we are long lost siblings.