Posts Tagged ‘FENX 4.0’

Sometimes crazy ideas find their way into our minds.  A few days ago I caught one of those.  Last week, I finished leading a small group at National Community Church (NCC) that read through Pastor Mark Batterson‘s The Circle Maker (In full disclosure Mark is the Pastor at NCC).  In our final meeting as a small group, we embarked on an exercise of creating a list of Life Goals; things we’d like to have accomplished by the time our lives come to an end.  Personally I think it’s much wiser to start thinking about this at 29, or even earlier, as opposed to a later time.  In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark has some pretty interesting life goals: making a movie, speaking at a commencement, and writing a New York Times Bestseller to name a few (which he has done with The Circle Maker).

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent some time watching a number of TED Talks, presentations given on various topics by leaders and innovators in different fields, who have ideas worth spreading or stories worth telling.  It could be someone talking about mobile technology and it’s uses in locating people as part of disaster relief, a discussion about Moore’s Law and continuing upward trends in technology, imparting the art of storytelling though enabling technology, the power of secrets, or even the energy future of our planet as impacted by a teenager who wanted to create a fission reaction in their garage and built a reactor to do it.  It’s impassioned people sharing their ideas and perspective on life to impact culture and inspiring people to think about the world around them.  Last week as I was working on this “Bucket List” of sorts I realized that one of my goals should be (and now is) to share my journey, and the story of the FENX, at a TED conference; to impart to that group of influencers the value of an individual life and how such a life forged by challenging experiences is enabled to see the world in a different light, and thus embark on a somewhat accidental quest to revolutionize the lives of others via unique mobility solutions.  To share what many see as a story of hope, courage, and family.

But it doesn’t end there.  After processing this thought on TED, something in me said “Why not an audience of 10,000?”  My inner geek immediately reacted “10,000?!  You could almost buy your own ship for that!” But why not 10,000?  Why not consider it a goal to be able to share this same story with a single audience of 10,000 people at a single event?  It could certainly happen; audiences of 1,000 and 3,500 happened in college and there was less story to tell then.

So here’s to “10,000 and TED”, right up there on the List with “writing a book by the time I am 35” and quite a bit higher than “Attending San Diego Comic-Con”

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

On the rare occasion that I get to go before an audience and speak about my journey so far, it is all but inevitable that I will talk about purpose and destiny at some point; partly because they are ideas that interest me, and partly because it’s easier to bring in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Terminator that way (all popular franchises in our culture that speak to destiny).  Speaking before a Christian audience, I’ll often frame my ideas about destiny and purpose around the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared for us in advance (or ‘in advance for us to do’)”.  Put another way, I will sometimes ask this question:  “Whose prayers are you destined to be the answer to?” I’ve thought much about this as an idea in recent years, as a third-person concept outside of my personal orbit.  Recently, that’s changed – and for the better.

In my last post I mentioned attending the Leadership Summit at National Community Church two weekends ago.  After it’s conclusion my brain was more than full but I wasn’t done thinking.  I began thinking about this idea of answers to prayer again and it was as if God was asking me personally “What if you intentionally prayed that way?  What if, every morning you prayed that that day, somehow, some way, you could be the answer to the prayer of someone else; what might happen?”  I’ll be the first to admit that I was harboring some apprehension about this prayer “experiment” because consistent prayer is one of the things that puts you on the front-lines of combat in spiritual terms and in conflict, those on the front-lines generally pose the greatest threat to the opposition.  The opposition in turn wants to strike back at your weakest point, and for me that’s a point of biological structure; because of some primary and secondary conditions I’ve lived with all my life, or a long stretch of it, I’m weaker and very vulnerable to pain and discomfort.  Moreover, already knowing what this feels like and what forms it can manifest in, tends to increase the dread if you know it’s coming (or might come); hence, the apprehension.

Nevertheless, I resolved to press forward with this idea.  The first few days were terrible, as pain and biological difficulty seemed to be on the hunt.  A few days later I was talking on the phone with a friend from out of town about a situation surrounding a mutual friend of ours, explaining how a friend of mine in here in Washington (which this out of town friend did not know) and I were planning on trying to help resolve this situation with our mutual friend.  In the midst of this explanation, my out of town friend just stops and says “wow, what you are trying to do is really an answer to the prayers some of us have prayed for awhile”.  I was standing in my kitchen at the time and the world. just. stopped. “What did you just say?”, I asked.  The words were repeated.  I then began to explain the whole prayer experiment I was in the midst of and the individual at the other end of the phone was amazed as well; the Master of the Universe taking the time to confirm a path I was on.  I also found it beyond coincidence or luck that the friend on the phone was reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson at this time; a great book on prayer if the  ever was one.

This doesn’t happen every second of every day or even every day, but when it does occur it’s wise to take note. I sometimes wonder if the FENX or the story of my journey so far  has been the answer to the prayers of others (other than my own).

And so I continue on this path, excited to see what other prayers of others I might be the answer to, knowing that most of those answer I will probably never be aware of, but the One who made the galaxies and crafted them into place will, and sometimes that has to be enough.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

This post brought to you by the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Orchestra Album

Author’s Note:  Penned almost 4 years ago, I still think about this event a lot, considering the controversy that ignited over the events in Florida the lady was referring to, and have really been considering it in the last week.  The Greater Miracle is often the harder road, the road bearing footprints you can see because it’s not paved, but few prints to follow.  When I wrote this the FENX IV wasn’t finished, Carl Sear at NBC hadn’t called yet, I didn’t know pro-life television existed, and I certainly didn’t know who Chris Rush or Zack Arnold were, and wasn’t thinking about articles written in Roll Call.  Almost four years later, some of this path makes more sense than it did in Spring 2008.  How big is God to you?  Is He big enough to NOT do something you want because there is a larger story being written, even in your own life?

Yesterday, before church, an older lady came up to me and asked me a random question: “Do you watch GOD TV?”  Taken aback, I said “no” because I don’t know what that is. (Only after thinking about it did I realize that I think it’s part of the Wendy Alec empire as it were.)  She then started talking about how guests on that TV program/station had been healed of various physical problems and illnesses during a “healing revival” and how I should start watching it.

So, ok, color me a skeptic.  I know that God CAN do such things, and that the Scriptures are filled with Him doing such things in the Old Testament and Jesus in the new (even using the Disciples and Paul).  God is God and the Universe belongs to Him and He can do as He wills. The whole reason this awkward conversation started is because she saw me sitting in the scooter and the synaptic impulse shot across her brain that “something is wrong with this young man and I know God can fix it”.  A noble idea and response to be sure, but is it the right one?

Has anyone ever considered that there is nothing wrong with me? Has anyone ever thought about the fact that I am what I am because the Lord created me to be this way for some purpose unknown to humans but fully known to Him – even though it is revealed to me and to others in small pieces or not at all? I just feel sad for people who see something like this and automatically think something is out of place, when in fact it is not. Sure, I still struggle with this whole situation, the idea of getting older and things getting worse. At times it isn’t fun – like right now when I am home suck because a variety of factors are working together to keep me out of the game for a short time – but it is never as bad as the outside world perceives it to be because my Heavenly Father is here too, grieving and struggling along side, but knowing there is a greater purpose that often I cannot see. (Lest we forget Paul’s example shown to us by the thorn that he was given, but never taken from him though he asked it to be)

What is the greater miracle?

For someone to be healed of a life-long infirmity, the Lord be recognized and praised for it, but soon forgotten by all except the one it happened to – and even then possibly forgotten over time?

Or for someone to go about life striving to accomplish the mission set before them, phase by phase, with a consistent infirmity, a constant reminder of their mortality, that can cause great pain and internal struggle (but also bring them in closer relationship with God than anything else) against impossible odds because the Father planted within that person the seed of perseverance that over time will grow and transform into a massive structure with God engraved all over it, as a symbol and encouragement to many people in many places?

I’ll take door number two, Bob.

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

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.

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

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 premire 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 Calista, 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 involing the Capitol Police thinking the FENX was a security threat and might explode the first time that I drove it to work on Capitol Hill – and yes, it includedexplosive sniffing canines.  This of course excited my small audience so I recounted the story of how/why my Dad built the vehicle.  I explained the whole tale of being born 10-12 weeks early, how God told my Dad I would be ok, that all my medical problems wouldn’t be the end of me.  I talked about how Dad built the FENX III because of the accident while I was in college where I flipped the tricycle.  I went on to recount why he built the FENX 4.0 (and showed pictures) and how becuase of a series of very of very odd (but very God-oriented) events led to the current adventure of taping and producing a segment for TV News which will air before too long.  The TV segment details the story of the FENX and the relationship between my Dad and I; he’s the greatest by the way – totally worthy of being my hero.

Well, the three folks I was recounting this tale for were just amazed, which seems a common reaction.  In a town as cynical and self-centered as Washington, DC is, they told me my story was one which gives them hope – that there are still good people out there doing what they can to improve the lives of others and change the world for the better.  They said it’s a story where folks aren’t in it for the money, power, and personal affluence and that’s rare.

Here’s to reflecting the True Hope of the One who gave my dad the ability to create.  Next time, hopefully, the story behind the TV Segment!

Riding towards Eternity,

Aaron

P.S. Any thoughts can be sent to FENX04@gmail.com

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

Tonight, my good friend Brian and I attempted to enter the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution with the FENX 4 – we succeeded, at least partially.  We got in to the Museum because I stressed the fact that the FENX 4.o is my primary transportation device – which it has become.  While we were certainly a security concern for the guards – and to a point rightly so, having never seen something like this – the whole cross between a stasis pod from Aliens and a Light Cycle from Tron kinda freaks people out – they let us in.  Once in the Museum, we waited – all the while imagining taking photos with SpaceShip One.  We were told we had to wait to hear from the office of public affairs.  Why?  Well we couldn’t take pictures or video to be used in a promotional capacity – mainly this blog – unless they said so.  Well we never got the OK, and I have to call them this week and see if I can get the OK to go back and take pictures.  While we were inside though, we did drive/walk around on the first floor some – and yes, security followed us around the whole time.  I think they were very happy to see us leave.  Funny thing is that some of the security guards were really interested…

We’ll be back there though, and pictures will follow…not to mention the video Brian took before and after the museum and is editing…

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

On Sunday I got out early with the FENX 4.0 to run it through a hard test run – the toughest yet.  The goal – to run the entire circuit I had run on Saturday within 2 hours and 30 minuites.  Thanks to the dark horizon at 8:30 am very few runners and tourists were out along my route – on this day, a blessing indeed.  With food and fluids on board – breakfast while testing – I flew as hard and fast as I could, only stopping when lights required me to.  Starting at 12.7 volts, I ended the test run with 11.7 and in 2 hours and 7 minutes.  As long as I keep it above 10.5 volts life is good.  Importantly, by the time I finished I was near Union Station and was able to stop – as the engine was overheating and communicating said strain.  After letting it sit for over an hour things were cool again and I was good to go – the storm that came through, which I hit while on the National Mall, helped with that.  All the while runners and tourists were wet and cold and I was safe and sound in my litte world.  The FENX handles surprisingly better than anticipated in the rain, granted one doesn’t want to do something stupid.  All in all a fantastic run, with an important lessons learned – batteries need rest too.

Hopefully, tomorrow, the FENX 4.0 and Spaceship One will meet for the first time.

My friend Azaria and I doing our best Wonder Twins impression (from SuperFriends).

My friend Azaria and I doing our best Wonder Twins impression (from SuperFriends).

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

Where I’m going, I don’t need roads, only sidewalks…

I spend a lot of time in the FENX 4.0; my mornings/early afternoons on the weekends are generally reserved for field testing the range of the FENX 4.0, seeing how far I can take it, trying to negotiate it’s limits and trying to push the envelope a little bit each time I take it out for a spin.  As often happens while I am out driving/testing, I meet people interested in the FENX 4 who often ask questions about it.  Sometimes I will meet people who actually have a real need for the FENX 4 or something like it.

Three weeks ago I I found myself chased down by two different photographers around the Chinatown area of Washington, DC; one was Matt Dunn and the other Ed Callender.  You will see some of their work on this blog as I continue to write and post pictures.

Two weeks ago at Union Station I met a family who was on vacation here in Washington, D.C. as part of a three week RV tour of the east coast of the United States.  The Dad, Mom, and three boys hailed from Israel actually.  The father was in a wheelchair and the mother was in a scooter.   As I began to talk with them, and explain the story of the FENX 4, their countianence changed, a glimmer of hope in their eyes; that one day they could abandon chairs and scooters for something else, something with greater capibilities – something like the FENX 4.

Yesterday, I met a man in a wheelchair who is a quadriplegic with limited use of his arms and hands.  We talked for an hour about life with a handicap and the FENX 4; specifily on how it might be adapted for folks with different disabilities.  This is what the FENX 4 was built for, to expierament in how to best give people hope and dignity through mobility.

Today, I met Senator Sam Brownback, almost by accident.  He was enjoying the national mall with two of his kids and they were rather enamored with it.  So I stopped to talk with the kids and answer questions while at a crosswalk and he started talking and asking questions.  Before too long there was a crowd of about 20 people all around asking questions and taking pictures.  Needless to say I missed my chance to cross when the light changed.  It was neat to meet one of my pro-life heroes though.

FENX IV - Canopy up - angled - HOPE

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

Photo Credit:  Matt Dunn