The FENX and the Chris Rush Project

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It is rare for me to come across something that I find so compelling that I have to act. A good friend of mine recently commented to me that we often come in contact with situations which impress upon us and move us, but they do not impact us enough to actually do something about it. For some it’s poverty and/or homelessness. For others, like Mike and Heather Colletto, it’s the trafficking and subsequent slavery of another human being – the robbing of another of that individuals’ inherent dignity bestowed upon them by the Creator by seeing them as less than human and ensnaring them in to a life of bondage either by deception or force. Still, for others it is the sacredness of human life – especially the unborn. This is a cause to which I have attached myself, along with countless other friends and strangers. In the midst of ALL that seems to be transpiring in our great Nation over this issue in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a particular “sub-issue’ which isn’t addressed all that often, maybe because it gets wrapped up into the various facets of the larger issues at play within the Pro-Life Cause. This crucial “sub-issue” is the “quality of life” for individuals with medical conditions, physical challenges, handicaps, disabilities – call it what you like.

Previously, I wrote about my experience being interviewed on this very subject by an Emmy-winning pro-life television show, because of my life experiences, trials, and triumphs with Cerebral Palsy. Since that interview four weeks ago to the day, this issue of quality of life, the importance of it, and the lies surrounding it have been made starker than ever before.

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The FENX and the Trenches

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If there’s something I have learned over the last five years since my college days, it is that REAL Life is hard. I know it’s true because of the clever ways we as human beings try and evade and or escape such a reality. I do it with video games, comic books, and distractions of general geekery – yes, sometimes adventures with the FENX is that needed distraction. Others vie for the same sort of escapism by way of choices and substances that are magnitudes more destructive. Many of us escape though movies (guilty – Neverending Story, anyone, anyone). Who hasn’t felt like Bastian, Alex Rogan, or Luke Skywalker at some point in their life? Sometimes life throws us huge curveballs, challenges we didn’t see coming (that’s no moon…). One could argue that my entire existence has been exactly that for my family.

I’ve spent a lot of the last five years (since college at Cedarville University) walking in various valleys amidst some pretty high and steep mountains. While those mountains have been fewer, the freshness and clarity upon the apex is a marvel unto its own. I’ve trudged though tough trenches of pain and veered though dark vortexes of confusion, wondering if and when difficult aspects of my life will change or cease all-together (they haven’t yet). Aside from facing the pain, discomfort, and difficult head-on and try and bend it to the might of will power and tenacity (fueled by Christ in me, the hope of Glory – this is the banner we raise – I know no other way) the toughest part of any trial is to face it alone.

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The FENX and the White Warlock (Old Man Winter)

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Imagine for a brief moment that you are standing on the sidewalk in a busy city as the snow falls fast and the wind whips, grasping at you with icy talons. All of the sudden in the midst of nature’s temper-tantrum of frigid pandemonium emerges a clean aerodynamic form as it roars past; you cannot see into it and whoever (or whatever) might be within its confines (presumably) cannot see out of it. What are you thinking in that moment? What do you do? How do you react? Do you suddenly think we aren’t alone in the vast cosmos? A week ago that was me. I wasn’t the bewildered bystander though, I was the unseen one inside the all white alien form, and that form was the FENX.

Last week was baptism by snow as I slowly made my way home across the treacherous “Hothscape” that Washington, DC had transformed into over a matter of hours one afternoon. The government shut down around 3 pm that afternoon and I left “early” at 5 – already too late as I would soon learn. As I locked myself into the FENX; inserted keys; flipped switches to activate displays and check lights; set the Blue-tooth on the phone so I could catch-up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Round-table discussions, all of this was routine but I knew this was going to be an adventure and visions of The Empire Strikes Back started to dance across my cortex. The snow was falling and it was sticking to the FENX with no place to go. Before too long I was having a tough time seeing and often opened the canopy so I knew where I was headed. My memorized route was being altered by law enforcement as there was too much snow to know what to do with and I was praying safety a mile a minute even though the FENX is a veteran survivor of storms (but of the summer sort). As I slowly went along the weight of the snow gave my muscles a run for their money in lifting the viewport for sight (but I empathized with Luke Skywalker’s plight of the downed Snowspeeder and trying to open the canopy to escape the oncoming Imperial Walker). I can only imagine what passersby must have thought as they saw me roll by. In the end (thanks to much evident grace) I made it safely home and away from the world of Wampas outside. I knew the White Warlock of Old Man Winter had returned and caught me unawares; thus one of my greatest enemies had returned and our struggle began once again – and I was clearly losing.

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The FENX and the Media

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Life so far has been full of many crazy (some even fantastic – in the older sense of the word) adventures. As much as this shouldn’t surprise me considering I read things like Dune, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings – and thoroughly enjoy the TRON universe – many times it does. Worth is one of the greatest things humanity struggles with (both internally and externally; self worth and the worth of another) and I sometimes wonder if I am worthy of the adventure I find myself on. From a proper perspective of humility in relation to the Creator and Master of the universe, I’m not – but rather blessed to be on said journey.

Greatest amongst the recent adventures is obviously The FENX Project. I was reminded of this a few nights ago when I had dinner with Carl Sears and his wife Sheila. Carl is the producer behind the NBC News story on Dad, The FENX and I and his wife is the one who helped “discover” us on that late summer night in 2009 when I was driving home from the Capitol and her camera crew spied something coming toward them which they considered to possibly be a UFO, and in a sense the FENX was – in being an unidentifiable object flying past them. (To my friends to who secretly wonder if I’m really from somewhere else, here’s your shot but I am sorry to disappoint.) At dinner we shared memories of that night in July and the surrounding circumstances when it came to working on the NBC project together, such wonderful people. I shared with them a number of unlikely stories involving places like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Capitol Hill, and reactions from Members of Congress. It occurred to me, as it has many times, that I don’t lead a regular life – even if it seems so normal to me. (I’ve the Creator and my family to thank for that.)

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The FENX and Physicians…

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December: the greatest and worst month of the year. It’s a period of 31 days filled with great hope and wonder. The hope of a coming Savior now arrived and fulfilled. The wonder of grappling with those implications and seeing the bright faces of children during the season as it washes over them (or in some cases folks who just grow old but never bothered to grow up). It’s also filled with Winter, with snow, and with cold; the older I get the less I like that – it makes my life harder. In the midst of this period of days stand days long remembered, never forgotten. Every year I spend time reflecting on the two and a half weeks that changed my life, where a young boy persevered though pain and trial and came close enough to Death to shoot the Reaper’s eye out with a paintball gun; much better than a BB gun, I don’t care what a kid who stuck his tongue to a pole and yet wants said armament at Christmas says.

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The FENX and the Commander: James Bond and Screen on the Green

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Screen on the Green at the National Mall began last night for 2010 with Goldfinger, the second and probably best of the presently dead James Bond movie franchise (thanks to MGM’s management and budgetary troubles). Powering up the batteries of the FENX, I headed down for this screening with some friends. As often happens taking the FENX down to such a public venue attracts attention, but the one behind the butterfly always has to focus on the drive and ignore the onlookers. Unfortunately, about halfway through the film the rain came with crashing sound and blazing light. In the end Screen on the Green was shut down just like it was last year when screening Rebel w/o a Cause starring James Dean. Last night, like last year, the FENX was my saving grace from the torrent of water, light, and sound. While many others were scattered, sopping, and screeching their displeasure at the turn of events I focused on seeing through the rain and singing Star Wars parodies like Yoda, The Saga Begins, and Star Wars Cantina on the drive home. Once again, the ingenuity of my own personal Q Branch known as DAD shone through brighter than lightning and I navigated my way back to the Fortress of Solitude while silently lamenting the inability of the masses around me to coherently mind their surroundings as Bruce Wayne was taught and be something other than huddled masses yearning to be dry and spurred on by group-think. This adventure did, as others have, highlight the future possibility of more additional passenger space in the FENX to keep my friends safe and dry though; a thought for the next iteration.

Star Trek and the FENX: Undiscovered Country

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is one of my favorite Star Trek movies. But anyone who knows me knows I’m more of a Star Wars fan (kinda like J.J. Abrams; didn’t he direct a Star Trek film?). At this point I can hear the “snap/hiss” of lightsabers and phasers being set for kill all over the world-wide-web. How in the word can a Star Wars fan love a Star Trek movie? Well, the sci-fi genre has always been one to take issues of the time away from Earth and tackle them in a safer environment; Star Trek VI does this. At the time Star Trek VI released (12.13.91) the Chernobyl incident had occurred, the Berlin Wall had come down, and the Iron Curtain had recently fallen. The story in Star Trek VI mirrors this with a energy disaster on a Klingon moon and the need for peace between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets. Add to this plot great performances by the Trek cast and additions like Christopher Plummer as General Chang and David Warner as Chancellor Gorkon and things get better. Throw William Shakespeare quotes into the dialogue and make it relevant to the plot and it’s amazing. Now, how does this relate to the FENX? Well, one of the themes to Star Trek VI is fear of the unknown. Peace between the Klingon Empire and the Federation was a scary thing for some because it would change the galaxy.; it was something folks just couldn’t understand.

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The FENX and The Users: A TRON Tale

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This December the much anticipated sequel to the original TRON releases to theaters. Originally released in 1982, it was the story of a video game designer who got transported into the world he created. IMHO, the Terminator and Matrix franchises may not have existed if TRON hadn’t come first. One of the highlights of the original movie was the sequence with the lightcycles (and the lightcycle sequence in the coming sequel looks even better). About two months ago, Free Comic Book day happened on a Saturday. That morning I jumped in the FENX to take a trip to Union Station, intent on stooping by Fantom Comics to pick up some comics. I always park the FENX right out front of the store and it tends to attract a lot of attention. As I was leaving Fantom Comics that morning, a gentlemen came up to me with his five-year-old son and tells me “my son really likes you’re vehicle, when he first saw it he looked at me and says ‘DADDY DADDY, IT’S THE TRON CAR!!!’” I was floored, utterly shocked – a five year old knew a movie that was 20+ years older than he was. It pretty much made my day.

Airplanes, Evacuations, and the FENX 4.1

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Yesterday morning my brother Seth and I caught a flight at Regan National Airport in DC to Detroit Metro in Michigan. It being a Holiday we have some time off and haven’t seen our parents in a while – perfect time to come home. This flight was probably one of the more interesting ones, as I met a man who was returning home to Minnesota with his family after touring the city with his wife and daughter. We spent some time talking about what he does as a parts supplier with IBM and what I do as a Congressional Staffer and what it’s like to work where I do – mostly in the last few weeks with long days and Health Care.

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Behind the Butterfly: A return to the cockpit of the FENX 4.1

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Over the last three months, Washington, D.C. has gotten an inordinate amount of snowfall. Therefore two things have happened: The FENX 4.1 was grounded due to weather and the entire city knows what “Snowpocalypse” and “Snomageddon” mean (and I almost put hash-tags in, need to remember this isn’t Twitter). Thanks to the FENX being grounded, I wasn’t able to have my own Battle of Hoth in the snow.

Today, I took the FENX 4.1 out for a quick test run to Union Station and Ebeneezer’s Coffee House, just to see how the vehicle was faring. All is still well, just need to keep a judicious eye on the batteries. It felt awesome to be behind the butterfly steering wheel again, there is nothing like it. I still get stopped by folks though; I like to think my Dad and I are actively engaged in changing the paradigm in how an individual gets from point A to point B in a city and loving every second.

Riding towards Eternity,

Aaron