Archive for October, 2007

Who was that masked dork?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

At least two other people dressed up this time!

Unfortunately I pilfered one too many Taco Bells and busted my belt five minutes after I got to work :(

ATT00001

Experimenting with gravity

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Earlier this week I participated in the Area 15 Toastmasters 2007 Humorous Speech Contest. Despite strong competition including a Scottish guy with a hilarious story about an overflowing toilet, I managed to take first place.

On the off chance you won’t be able to attend the second round of competition held in Flint next week,

Fellow toastmasters and honored guests,

First off I want to apologize. I was not aware this was the humorous competition…I thought this was the scientific lecture series. I will therefore now dissertate on the subject of GRAVITY.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been dealing with gravity most of your life. But you may not have stopped to reflect on just how important gravity is. Gravity is the fabric that holds our universe together. In our own solar system, the gravity of the sun holds our planet in a nice neat symmetrical orbit. (Illustrated with my finger circling in the air)

I lose sleep over this. The question that keeps me awake…What if someone turned the gravity off? (Finger stops “orbiting” and drifts off into space) That’s not good!

Not to mention how confusing it would be. Imagine you walk into your kitchen, only to find all your cats on the ceiling….Ok that’s a bad example. That’s where I keep my cats anyway. Side note – if you find yourself tripping over your cats, just pick them up, rub them together really fast and then stick them on the ceiling.

But still, not having gravity would be weird. Picture you go to leave for work, only to find your car up in a tree. Imagine how confused the birds would be! “What the…who moved the bathroom up here??”

I worry about not having gravity, so every now and then I test it to make sure it still works.

Experiment #1 – SKIING

When I was ten years old, my mom took me skiing for the first time. I am not sure why. I guess the thought of taking her little boy, sticking him on two pieces of fiberglass and shoving him down a mountain struck her as a good idea.

Once I had mastered the “mountains” of Saginaw, we moved on to larger resorts. We went to a place in Canada where I found a long slick run. SCHWOOM! Great place to test gravity! SCHWOOM! On the third SCHW my binding came loose and my right ski shot out from under me. Everything slowed down like in the Matrix. I thought to myself, “this is going to hur” and then my right foot hit the ground and I turned in to the human avalanche. SCHWUMPWUMPWUMPWUMPWUMPWUMPWUMP! Hit my head on every WUMP. It was so impressive they were still talking about it in the ski lounge an hour later. The guy next to me in line said “Dude, did you see that guy wipe out?” I replied, “Flowers?”

Not convinced though, I decided to run this experiment again in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. After a full day of doing double and triple black diamond difficulty hills, I decided to end on a blue square or medium difficulty hill. “Medium difficulty” in Colorado…little different than Michigan. Within seconds of starting the run, I found myself looking up in the air at my skis, crossed together. Shortly after that I drove my shoulder in to the ground.

I tried to get up. Nothing happened. I said to guy I was skiing with, “Dude, I can’t move my arm. Is that bad?”

This presented a problem as I was several miles up in the mountains and they do not send the helicopter for shoulder injuries. Instead, the ski patrol showed up with a tiny sled, plopped me on, wrapped me up like a mummy and then proceeded to ski down the mountain with me in tow, bouncing off every mogul. When we finally got to the bottom, the kind and caring medical staff took bets on whether or not my shoulder was broke.

Fortunately it was only separated, and more importantly I had proven that gravity does work in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I’ve shown that gravity works in the winter, but what about in the summer?

Experiment #2 – ROLLERBLADING

I got a pair of rollerblades for my birthday, so I asked my college roommate how they worked. He said “It’s kind of like skiing.” I said “All right.”

This was at the University of Iowa. Now people have misperceptions about Iowa. They think it’s a big flat cornfield, and that’s just not true. It’s a big bumpy cornfield. So I found the biggest hill on campus. I figured I would slalom my way down because that’s how you control your speed in skiing.

Rollerblading is NOT like skiing.

Not only did I not slow down, but I began to speed up. I found my self careening down the hill and I had no idea how to break. At the bottom of the hill was a street. With traffic. I zipped across the street and luckily was not hit by a car, but my victory was short lived. Directly in front of me was a flight of concrete stairs. With no other choice I bailed off the sidewalk where I miraculously landed in a soft bed of cedar mulch.

I have never been so happy to have a scratched knee in all my life. More importantly, I had proven that gravity does work in the summer.

I’ve shown that gravity works down here, but what about up there? It was time to put gravity to the ultimate test.

Experiment #3 – SKYDIVING

When you go skydiving for the first time, they don’t let you go alone. You do what’s called tandem, where they strap you to a professional skydiver. My professional skydiver was a big fat man with a long grey beard. Kind of like Santa. Only grumpy. They strapped me to his bowl full of jelly, and then Bad Santa carried me around like a little rag doll.

I can tell looking back at the video by my pale complexion and wide round eyes just how excited I was to jump out that plane. When it got to be my turn, there was no “Should I jump…should I not jump?” No, you’re in the plane and then SCHWOOM you are out the plane.

Interestingly once I was out the plane, I still wasn’t sure gravity was working. The ground was so far away it just wasn’t an issue. It didn’t feel like I was flying either. The best way I can describe it would be to drive down the highway going 70mph and then stick your head out the window.

It wasn’t until he pulled the ripcord that I realized gravity was working exceptionally well. The hand of God grabbed me by the collar, yanking me up and puling my straps tight, unfortunately pinching a certain area of my body. And while that wasn’t pleasant, the rest of the experience was truly amazing, as we peacefully floated down and landed on the ground in one piece.

More importantly, I had proved that gravity does work at 14,000 feet.

So in conclusion, when you go to bed tonight, sleep well knowing that I will continue to test gravity to make sure it still works. Bungie jumping is an option and I haven’t ruled out cliff diving. Until then, my name is Steve reminding you to keep your feet on the floor and your cats on the ceiling, thank you.