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

The FENX 4.1 – a conduit to a road less traveled and a demension rarely visited?

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In anticipation of the airing of the story of the FENX 4.0 on NBC Nightly News and reflecting on what the FENX Adventure has been so far, I’ve spent time as of late considering what this whole experience has taught me about God and Life in General (MxPx reference not quite intentional but welcome):

1. My Dad loves me, a lot – let’s face it, no other dad I know would take the time and effort to do what my Dad has done and all this because he saw a need that I had, not only at the present time but far into the future.  Lest anyone forget, this entire project – which includes both the FENX III and the FENX 4 – has been on going since the Spring of 2004.  My dad has taken a majority of his free time the last five years to design, build, and help me upkeep and modify both models at separate times.

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Transportation and Housing: With the FENX 4.1 and Solar Decathalon Houses, is the Future allowing is to glimpse it?

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Last Sunday I took the FENX 4.1 for a drive down to the National Mall to see the “prototype houses” on display as part of the 2009 Solar Decathlon.  For those who may not know, the Solar Decathlon is a competition which takes place every other year in the Fall in Washington D.C. to highlight architectural design concepts which are of assistance to the environment though, primarily, solar technology.  Now I make no attempt to hide the fact that I like technology and futuristic concepts in present technology – look at what I drive.   Now this competition takes place between a number of colleges and universities which are both national and international in nature.  This year there were teach from places like California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Canada, and Spain.  It was to this competition and these houses I drove the FENX 4.1 – I thought it would fit in rather well, and I was correct.  It garnished as much attention (and questions) as some of the houses did, and sometimes the questions came from the folks who designed and assembled the futuristic domiciles.  It was a worthwhile venture.

Riding towards eternity,

Aaron

The FENX 4.1 Returns (and the NBC Nightly News Saga)

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The FENX has landed.   Last weekend Dad returned to Washington D. C. with the FENX 4.1 complete with a double locking modification to keep it safe.  Previously I hinted at a TV segment which is being filmed on the FENX 4.1, my Dad, and me.  It’s not a rumor, it’s true.  It’s a segment for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  So how did something like this happen?  Well, quite simply God had a hand in it.  Late one evening I was piloting the FENX 4.1 near the House Office Buildings on Independence Avenue in Washington, across from the Capitol building.  As I was cruising along, three folks were down the sidewalk from me with a video camera and began filming my approach.   I ignored them and began on my merry way, when a small voice in my mind suggested I stop and talk with them, find out who they are.  I did just that, not knowing what I was getting into.  I stopped to talk with these folks for about 15 minutes and answer all their questions, only to discover they are from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) .  Additionally, the camera woman informs me that her husband is a car and aircraft enthusiast and would be very interested in seeing the FENX and probably meeting me – and then she told me he was a producer for NBC Nightly News and the Today show; you can imagine my shock and disbelief.  She commented that he would probably be getting in touch with me sooner than later.  (For the record I didn’t believe her, I thought it was too crazy – even for me.)  On the way home that night I talked with my dad and told him what transpired, having commented on Eph 3:20 – “To Him who can do more than we can ask or imagine” but also quoting Han Solo – “I can imagine a lot”.

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FENX-less, but still inspiring hope…or so I am told.

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When I last wrote, I commented on the FENX 4.0 being in Michigan for repairs and modifications; it still is, till next weekend.  However, I had an encounter last night that helped me realize it’s not so much the technology of the FENX 4.0 itself that can give people hope, but the story in it’s entirety.  Last night, I went to the premiere of Discovering God in America II:  Our Heritage.  It’s a film exploring the Christian heritage of our nation and it was put together by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, in conjunction with Citizen’s United.

After watching the excellent film which, explores our heritage from the early Jamestown Settlement in 1607 to Abraham Lincoln and after the Civil War in 1865, I went to a reception where I met some folks and before I knew it I was talking about the FENX 4.0 – mainly because of my story involving the Capitol Police thinking the FENX was a security threat and might explode the first time that I droveit to work on Capitol Hill – and yes, it included explosive sniffing canines.

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The FENX 4.0 and time in the shop

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I haven’t posted anything on the FENX 4.0 in some time, for one simple reason:  there’s little to say and no adventures to be had.  In a nutshell, the FENX 4.0 has been “in the shop” in Michigan, undergoing some repairs and modifications/upgrades.  One of the biggest lessons of this overarching adventure has been estimating the overall range of the FENX 4.0, how far it can go.  The biggest impediment to this in my estimation has been the electric engine’s tendency to overheat when used for long periods of time.  Since there is no real way to cool the engine down while it is in use, the FENX is best used in a situation where there is a defined destination upon where it can rest and the engine can cool.  I am looking forward to the day when it returns to Washington, D.C. and I can use it as a catalyst for more adventuring.

Riding towards Eternity,

Aaron