Sunday, October 13, 2013

Then and Now

Back in November of 1985, a team of two young men began their construction of a replica of an ancient device used in warfare: the catapult.  Physics teachers the world over are fond of assigning this particular project to their students hoping to convince their hormone-riddled charges that Physics class exists in order to teach them something about the mechanical world and isn't just a forum in which flirt with the opposite sex.
Mr. Bennett, the Physics teacher at Oxford High School in '85, was particularly sadistic about this assignment, and instructed the students to build their catapult using no metal (the projectile could be a metal ball bearing) and no plastic.  The two enterprising young men of this story, Jeff and Rip, decided to build a catapult of the ballista-type.  It was made entirely out of popcicle sticks, twine and glue:
They spray-painted it gold and named it "Goldfinger" after the James Bond movie because they were boys and boys are dumb. (The future father of my child thought that Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore was the hottest thing ever filmed.  Also? He thought that the name "Pussy Galore" was sheer genius on the part of Ian Fleming because he was a boy and boys are dumb).
Jeff and I had just started dating, and I must say at that stage, the boy was flat moon-eyed over me...I got credit for the project's completion even though I just hung out during its construction looking cute:

I wish I had a picture of the construction process.  I do have a picture of Jeff constructing a parabolic oven with our friend Lauren for the same class:

(For this project the evil Mr. Bennett made us cook hotdogs on our parabolas and eat them...if we didn't get food poisoning, we passed).  You probably can't tell from the way he is jack-assing around in this photo...but he was quite a fine specimen of a 17 year old male....mmmm-hmmm...and I had it bad for him like a house afire.
I don't know why Lauren was feeding him Frosted Flakes out of the box.

Anyhow, I had dredged up all of those geeky-physics-filled memories of our first days together as our progeny embarked on her very own catapult (for a much more reasonable Physics teacher who allowed for sensible materials of construction).  She chose a Mangonel-type catapult.  She did the whole design and construction with her lab partner (her daddy helping when needed...some things like sawing and drilling were more than a two person job).

Funny to see something come full-circle like this.
P.S.  Some of you are probably wondering why I still have a 28-year old Physics project in my possession.  My only explanation for that is that Jeff NEVER. THROWS. ANYTHING. AWAY.  He's bad.  As in, if he lived alone he'd probably end up on hoarders.  He wouldn't be the type of hoarder that had nastiness going on or dead cats buried under trash or anything.  All of his hoarding would be neat and categorized.
Goldfinger is actually probably on his way out.  Jeff had saved him all of these years just in case his offspring had a project like it.  Sadly, when we dug it out of the shed, the bastard tree-rats had chewed  a good portion of the "track" up so we couldn't fire it and let the kiddo see how it worked.
Damn squirrels.






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