The Martin JetPak: A $100,000 Nerdy Flying Machine

The Martin JetPak: A $100,000 Nerdy Flying Machine

On Tuesday, New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin displayed at a Wisconsin air show what he describes as the ultimate personal flying machine, the world’s first practical jetpack. Modern-day attempts to build jetpacks have evolved from the 1940’s and 50s comic book marvels and early television-series heroes, such as Buck Rogers, Rocketman, Commander Cody, Captain Video, and Tom Corbett (Space Cadet). Since the 1960s, science geeks have built a number of real jetpack designs from metal, plastic and propellant, but none has been able to fly for more than a minute.

But Mr. Martin’s jetpak is said to be able to run for 30 minutes. The contraption doesn’t look much like the classic jetpacks of science fiction. It stands five feet tall, rests on three legs and its rotors look a bit like cupcakes. Mr. Martin has somehow been able to make the future look pretty nerdy. It is also not, to put it bluntly, a jet. Mr. Martin acknowledges that a gasoline-powered engine runs the Martin JetPack, not really jets as we know them today. He explains that the gas-powered engine creates a jet of air. According to Martin, most important thing is that it flies.

And just how well does this very, very noisy dream machine fly? Well so far, the ultimate personal flying machine that is priced at $100,000 hasn’t flown any higher than six feet. That’s about $17,000 a foot.

A Preview: The Ultimate Personal Flying Machine

Wisconsin Air Show: The Premier of The Martin JetPak

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Sexy Tree Porn: The Tree Lovers

Sexy Tree Porn: The Tree Lovers

Oh my goodness, these sexy trees have been caught in the act!! Tree lovers indeed…baring their sexy stumps, openly displaying sultry bark openings and the tantalizing leaves that one tree teasingly moves up and down over his lover-tree’s forked branch. Yes, it’s forbidden floral sex!!

The Sexy Tree Lovers: Forbidden Floral Sex!!

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The Danish Poet’s Pilgrimage Through the Uncertainty of Life

The Danish Poet’s Pilgrimage Through the Uncertainty of Life

The Danish Poet: Questions about the Meaning of Life

The Danish Poet won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The film follows the pilgrimage of a poet named Kaspar who has lost his talent for inspired creativity. In his desperate search for help, he travels to Norway to meet a famous writer. As the Danish poet’s journey to recover his sense of inspiration unfolds, he has to deal with bad weather, an angry dog, a fair damsel, a careless postman, hungry goats, a broken heart and other seemingly unconnected circumstances.

Although the tale of The Danish Poet proceeds with a sense of unexpected humor, it is also an allegory for deeper questions about the meaning of one’s life. If we look to the past for meaning, can we really gain such an understanding by tracing the little, seemingly trivial things in the particular chain of events in our lives back to our earliest years? Or, on the other hand, is existence and the course of our lives simply a matter of coincidence.

Learning to Become Prepared to be Unprepared

There is, of course, an alternative perspective about attempting to achieve some understanding about the meaning and course of our lives. If we focus on the present, rather than upon the past, we are faced with acknowledging that human choice always involves choosing one particular course of action while abandoning others, some of which may have turned out to be in some respects equally, or even more preferable. Furthermore, our choice of a particular course of action is always complicated by the unknowingness or ultimate uncertainty about where the path or paths not taken actually might have led.

While life’s ambiguity ultimately is irreducible, learning to embrace the ambiguous and uncertain nature of our lives can vitalize and enrich our experiences of surprise. In other words, focusing upon the present can expand our capacities to become engaged in depth with the ongoing, day-to-day events in our lives.

This in turn calls for us learn how to become prepared to be unprepared for new experiences.

The Danish Poet: On Becoming Prepared to be Unprepared

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Grizzly Bear: Friends with a Bond of Care and Devotion

Grizzly Bear: Friends with a Bond of Care and Devotion

Grizzly Bear is a group of four forward-looking musicians, whose friendship reveals much more than just a willingness to share center stage with like-minded sidekicks. Their newest EP, Friends, shows evidence of a musical maturation that reveals a strengthening artistic bond between the four forward-looking musicians who, as their recent musical works make easy to forget, found each other just three years ago.

With appearances now ranging from frequent appearances in small East Village clubs, to national tours and performances throughout Europe, and even a recent critically acclaimed concert in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, critics have said that Grizzly Bear’s music reveals an extraordinary leap forward in conviction and virtuosity that is practically unheard of. Their response to such acclaim might perhaps be best captured by the title of a song that Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste helped contribute to an album produced as a tribute to Björk: Possibly Maybe. Grizzly Bear remains playfully modest.

Grizzly Bear: While You Wait for the Others

Grizzly Bear: Two Weeks (From Friend)

Readers can access earlier articles that I’ve written about Grizzly Bear ( along other with music videos) here and here.

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An English Lad and His Sparkly, Spangly Baton

An English Lad and His Sparkly, Spangly Baton

There are times when a seemingly unimportant story surprisingly ends up being very emotionally touching, evoking strong feelings of caring warmth. And so it is with the scenario about this English lad, a 2007 contestant on the English television show Britain’s Got Talent. In the first video presented below, a soft-spoken, shy Craig Womersley first appears onstage in a glittering, twinkling costume and bashfully tells the judges that his talent is baton-twirling. Most people would gird themselves to endure and wince at a performance like this, destined to surely turn out to be painfully miserable.

But when one of the judges asks him what his parents think about his baton-twirling, with a quivering voice Craig reveals that he’s been keeping his baton-twirling a secret from his parents for many years. They had long ago forbid him to continue with the baton-twirling. In his family, only his supportive elderly grandmother knows about his baton-twirling (she is in the wings waiting to watch his performance; neither of his parents are present).

When the lad launches into his routine accompanied by the uplifting strains of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, the audience immediately goes absolutely mad, cheering and clapping with excitement. I challenge your heart not to be warmed by the closing scene, in which each of the amazed judges gives a glowing opinion in describing his performance. With the soft strains of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful piping in the background, Craig tears up with barely concealed joy as each of the judges praises him. They are very touching moments.

The second video presents Craig’s second performance on Britain’s Got Talent a few weeks later. At the beginning of the video, before his performance, Craig breaks down crying when talking about having to keep the thing that has been of greatest importance to him a secret for so many years. Now out of the closet, about his baton-twirling, his parents have come to the show and are in the audience to watch him perform. I refuse to be a spoiler about how all of this turns out. But watch it and perhaps, just maybe you might have a personal experience of touching, tender and heartwarming feelings.

An English Lad Performs with His Sparkly, Spangly Baton

Weeks Later, Craig Once Again Performs His Spangly Baton Twirling

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Forever Yours: A Sadly Haunting Tale of Love and Loss

Forever Yours: A Sadly Haunting Tale of Love and Loss

Stephen Kellam’s short film Forever Yours is a visually beautiful achievement. The film was produced with no spoken dialogue. Instead, the film’s emotional message is marked by the tone of its background music, which is melancholy and burdened with sadness. Its haunting echoes serve as a metaphoric reminder that our lives are too often vulnerable to experiences of fragmentation wrought by the undercurrents of dread and ghosts from our past.

Forever Yours begins as a short but deeply disquieting simple story of love and loss during wartime. However, by setting part of the love story in New York City’s now demolished old Pennsylvania Station (which was re-created in the film by utilizing computer graphics) Kellam metaphorically evokes much deeper images and longings than in his classically understated romantic story of love and its collapse.

Suddenly, the film about a soldier dreaming of a rendezvous with his loved one back home becomes, in part, a film about our universal wishes for and dreams about a lost world. In other words, the film makes a sharp descent into the darker realm of reminiscent melancholia.

Forever Yours: A Haunting Tale of Love and Loss

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Randy Pausch Dies at the Age of 47

Dr. Randy Pausch Dies at the Age of 47

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist, whose Last Lecture at Carnegie-Mellon was about facing terminal cancer, became an Internet sensation and wrote a best-selling book, died on Friday. He was 47. Alyssa Mayfield, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Mellon University, reported that Pausch had died in Virginia. Pausch and his family had moved there last fall to be closer to his wife’s relatives.

Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions of people on the Internet. In The Last Lecture, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on his impending death.

Randy Pausch didn’t want his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University to be about dying, but he was, sadly, dying of pancreatic cancer. He knew that it’s a painful way to go. When he gave his final lecture at Carnegie-Mellon, he wanted to demonstrate that his focus remained, as always, on living, or on living in the process of dying.

Randy Pausch Dies at the Age of 47

Randy Pausch Visits Oprah Winfrey: No Self-Pity

When there’s an elephant in the room introduce him.”

Randy Pausch Visits Oprah Winfrey: No Self-Pity

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

Pausch’s Surprise Visit to Carnegie-Mellon on May 18, 2008

Slide Show: Remembering Dr. Randy Pausch

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

The New York Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope has compiled a listing of many of the best internet links to access important videos and other useful items that make up the online legacy of Randy Pausch.

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