Monday, December 1, 2008
Besides form coming down from my second favorite holiday (I want another Thanksgiving), and having a birthday a couple weeks back. 34 now...halfway to 68. Hooray! I have been working (as usual) and playing my bass. (love it!), but my latest thing has been the purchase of a 75 gallon fishtank. I always loved keeping fishes, and the largest tank I ever had was a 15 gal. one. I always wanted a huge tank, and this was the largest one I could find. In a few years I may try to do a saltwater tank, but for now I am raising African Cichlids. These are a fish I always wanted to try keeping. Given their variety and bright colors, they resemble a saltwater fish, and the way I have the tank set up it looks like one now. ...so anyway I got 10 of them the other day, and we are having a great time watching and feeding etc. them. Van loves it when they come over to say 'hi' which this type of fish will do with very little prompting.
Monday, November 10, 2008
1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.
2. The letter "A" and the word "The" do not count as the beginning of a film's title, unless the film is simply titled A or The, and I don't know of any films with those titles.
3. Return of the Jedi belongs under "R," not "S" as in Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. This rule applies to all films in the original Star Wars trilogy; all that followed start with "S." Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark belongs under "R," not "I" as in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Conversely, all films in the LOTR series belong under "L" and all films in the Chronicles of Narnia series belong under "C," as that's what those filmmakers called their films from the start. In other words, movies are stuck with the titles their owners gave them at the time of their theatrical release. Use your better judgement to apply the above rule to any series/films not mentioned.
4. Films that start with a number are filed under the first letter of their number's word. 12 Monkeys would be filed under "T."
5. Link back to Blog Cabins in your post so that I can eventually type "alphabet meme" into Google and come up #1, then make a post where I declare that I am the King of Google.
Attack of the Clones
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death
Dawn of the Dead
Escape from New York
Gone in Sixty Seconds (no the Nicholas Cage one)
Hell Comes to Frogtown
Justice League of America (like they'll ever get it together enough to make it...)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Neverending Story
Once Upon a Time in America
Planet of the Apes
The Quick and the Dead
Saturday, November 1, 2008
One of the best characters on the show, Al Swearengen, and his right hand man Dan (complete with knife). Also Dolly the whore is in this picture... if you know what I mean....
On a side note, I wasn't completely happy with this one, as it was my first one, so there will likely be another picture of Al in the future.
characters from one of my favorite shows, "Deadwood". Since the show had such a huge cast, I have a rather large ensemble to draw from. The first I am presenting is "Mr. Wu", boss of the area known as "Chink's Alley". JUst don't end up in his pig pen...
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Another thing I love is being a Mainer. Don't know why, but I get a little gooofy about it sometimes. Anyway, to celebrate the event we had a little dinner here today and it consisted of 10 lobsters, potato salad, apple pie (I made last night from apples off one of the trees out back), and blueberry scones. Also I had Sea Dog Blueberry Ale, and Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. Can't get much more "Maine" that this folks. (Unless i threw some clams or mussels in the mix) ...actually there was homeade clam dip too, and it was delicious.
I thought I had a decent picture of the outside of the house, but nope. Maybe next time.
Friday, September 26, 2008
OK, I missed it again this year. Hobbit Day is celebrated on Sept. 22 and is the birthday of Bilbo Baggins, and the day that Frodo and Sam set out from the Shire on their quest to destroy the ring of power. In celebration of that....
Here's Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This is an old show van from the late 70's and 80's that has had a recent exterior facelift/theme. While the theme before was a nautical one (my favorite!) the new owners decided to put a very expensive and expertly excecuted mural on the exterior featuring the "Pirates of the Caribean" trilogy. Holy shit did the level of skill on this blow me away! To the pictures mates, for they tell it better than I can...
While the exterior of the van features quite a bit of custom woodwork such as tail light bezels, side marker lights (which were super cool!), running boards, and frames for the bay windows...
to me the real focal point was the amazing paint work that was done. Look at the faces of the main characters! Often times when photographing vehicles, they come out looking better than in person, but believe me, this was just as stunning from 6 inches away.
The side marker lights as I mentioned earlier, were filled in with wood, and little "lanterns" protruded from them. They had a piece of colored glass in them for a lens, which projected the light when it is illuminated.
Inside the van, the wood work was no less stunning. Expertly done and finished off in satin varnish, you feel like you are in a high end yacht (which I have been in a few of, and trust me on this one, they got it right) or in a cathedral. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good shot of the rear of the interior, but there was a settee across the back that was just amazing. It also features a rear mounted camera which was displayed on a monitor that dropped down from the headliner.
"Davy Jones I presume... ?"(not the Monkee :) ) Also a good pic of one of the side marker lights.
I was trying to get a good picture of the battle with boat and beastie, but in this one you can make out the edge of the rear settee.
Running boards that had some scroll like deatils ran the length of this van. Again check out the mural on the door. Beautiful work that! (don't look too close tho or you'll see me in the reflection!)
The driver/passenger seat matches the rear settee. Hand made capitans chairs, with lift up arm rests cap off the cockpit of this vessel. Also an incredible center console finishes the top of the doghouse off.
The rear features a portrait of none other than Cap'n Jack Sparrow!
Here is an overall worms eye view of how the van appeared on the show field.
There you have it. "Pirates of the Caribean". One of the cleanest, best themed show vans I have seen. When I think of a full blown custom survivior, this is it. I hope you have enjoyed seeing it as much as I enjoyed presenting it. Until next time when I will be featuring a radical custom, later.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I love ELO, and I have to say this is one of the funniest things I have come across in a while. The other viedos by this person are worth a watch. The "Jeff Lynne Storyteller" series are a riot.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ok, here's the deal. This awesome hoodie was going to be made by 80sTees.com, who also makes other super hero hoodies, and then the said they weren't unless they had a guaranteed 150-200 pre orders.
A page has been set up by F.O.A.M (Friends of Aquaman) member Eric Stettmeier to do just this. Simply click the link and go over to It's a Cold Day in Atlantis to have your voice heard. Don't let this hoodie die before it's made!
For more information on this story, check out Rob's Aquaman Shrine!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Here is a recent drawing I have done of the classic van Nautilus. This is a multi-show winning van from back in the 70's that graced the cover of many magazines, and was recently restored by a vanner from PA. It has had several different paint schemes over the years, and the roof was chopped when the van had less than 40 miles on it! But I digress, and I intend to feature this one as a van of the week feature soon.
Here is a couple of pictures I snapped of Nautilus at the Nats last week.
The interior... with the drawing on display. :D
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
"Witness the UnoCycle, a single-wheel (technically single-axle), single-rider vehicle that appears to be based on gyroscopic tech similar to a Segway and, more importantly, has photographic evidence of its existence. Of guys riding it and everything. You can see them by following the gallery link below.
Still in development, the Uno's top speed is 15 mph, but the inventor, Ben Gulak, suspects it could go as high as 40. That's no Harley, but it's faster than a Segway, and remember this is a battery-powered machine that you never need to fill up. Gulak says he's getting lots of interest lately."
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I found this super cool picture of the cast of Futurama, and thought it needed sharing. Which leads me to wonder... where are the new episodes already????
In case anyone is wondering, my favorite episode is the one where they discover the lost city of Atlanta.
Favorite quote (and I find myself saying it all the time... especially when I find toads around the house or wherever...)
"All glory to the Hypno-Toad!!"
oh yeah... click through for a larger version.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Here's the laws of being a pirate...which strangely enough I pirated from another site! Harrrr har harrrrrr!!!!
- A pirate does not ask for directions. He relies only on his gut feeling, a compass, or a treasure map.
- Parrots are the preferred pirate companion. Monkeys are an acceptable substitute, unless they fling their feces at people. Then they are an awesome substitute.
- When fishing, a pirate uses either a sword, a knife, or his bare hands. Use of a hook is only acceptable in the event the pirate is missing a hand.
- Pirates shall always wear boots, except in the case of a peg leg. Then one boot is acceptable. Flip-flops are right out.
- Pirates do not cry, except in the case of the loss of a shipload of rum.
- When describing the size of a treasure, a pirate is required to exaggerate by at least 130%. Flowers are not treasure under any circumstances, unless said flowers are made out of gold.
- A pirate shall never wear lipstick, nail polish, or capri pants. Actually, that kinda goes without saying.
- No pirate shall discuss his feelings, unless his feelings include gutting a man from stem to stern and spilling his entrails.
- A pirate should always remove his hat in the presence of a bartender.
- During a swordfight, swordfighting insults are required. In the event both participants are still alive at the end of the fight, the participant with the superior insults shall be declared the victor.
- No pirate shall ever wear a "fanny pack".
- All foods prepared by a pirate must include rum, grog, or beer. Boone's and other "Wench Punch" is prohibited.
- A pirate may never compliment another pirate on the softness of his hands.
- No pirate shall wear a bracelet or a necklace, unless it is the tooth or tusk of an animal he killed. If in the presence of cannibals, a necklace is acceptable camouflage, but only if said necklace is made of human toes.
- Pirate Law: Dousing oneself in beer is a perfectly acceptable replacement for a shower.
- No pirate shall drink Grog out of a glass. Grog is only to be consumed either straight from the barrel, or from a mug heavy enough to to kill a man.
- Three-cornered hats, headbands and bandanas are the only acceptable headwear for pirates. Fedoras, bowler derbies, baseball caps, mickey ears, top hats, sombreros, or anything with lace and flowers will be removed from the vessel-- head included. A grace period of one minute is allowed for hats looted from a tailory.
- A pirate shall never wrap presents. The only thing a pirate gives is a bludgerin'.
- Pirate Law: A pirate does not use the word "Fabulous". Ever.
- No pirate shall attend a movie with less than an Arrrr rating.
- Only a pirate is capable of killing another pirate. If you are not a pirate (let's say a ninja) and wish to challenge a pirate, they have a word for that. Corpse.
- Pirate Law: "ARRRRRRRRRRR..." is a perfectly acceptable answer to any question.
- A pirate does not "go shopping". Unless by "shopping", you mean "killing".
- Peglegs must be made of timber or some other suitable wood. Plastic, ceramic, porcelain, or metal peglegs are utterly unnacceptable, simply because it complicates the use of the phrase "shiver me timbers".
- Real pirates have chest hair. If you cannot grow chest hair, you may be a cabin boy.
- Under no circumstances is a comb-over an acceptable pirate hairdo.
- No pirate may ever change his shirt because it is "wrinkled". A pirate may only change his shirt if it is completely soaked in blood.
- When drinking, Pirates may sing. "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest" is preferred. Kelly Clarkson songs are not allowed.
- No pirate shall ever drive a minivan, unless he drives the minivan into a tavern, for the purposes of looting barrels of rum from said tavern. Upon completion of this task, the minivan is to be burned. No exceptions.
- No matter how hard it is raining, two pirates may never share an umbrella. Pirates do not fear rain.
- If circumstances demand a career change, a move into real estate brokerage or tax collection shall be considered a lateral move and said individual may keep their pirate status.
- A pirate does not snuggle with an animal, unless he is trying to snap its neck. But I guess that wouldn't really be "snuggling".
- A pirate may never wear another man's clothing, unless he first kills that man.
- Two pirates must never share a bed or a hammock. It is perfectly acceptable for one pirate to sleep on the floor, or on a pile of treasure.
- Pirates do not wear eyeglasses or bifocals unless they are looking at a treasure map, and even then they are allowed only a monacle. Any comments about "Mr. Peanut" while wearing the monacle are prohibited.
- When setting out on a voyage, a pirate does not pack a suitcase. He is only to bring what he can carry under his arms, or what his wench can carry on her back.
- A pirate does not mow the lawn. Lawns are for landlubbers.
- Lifting or removing one's eyepatch is extremely impolite but is not considered an insult. It's just kinda gross. Likewise, one should never remove another pirate's eyepatch, except with a sword to the face.
- Pirates never use the words "fresh" or "feelings," and certainly not together (as in "I have that not-so-fresh feeling").
- A pirate must never visit a tanning salon. If he is not already tan enough from searching for treasure, he hasn't been searching hard enough.
- While creativity is encouraged during any barfight or battle at sea, pirates may only use the following types of sword; falchions, scimitars, rapiers, and particularly long knives. Katanas or any other Ninja sword are strictly forbidden, unless the Pirate rips off a Ninja's arm and hurls the arm, and attached Katana, as a projectile.
- No pirate shall ever sit on a toilet seat, for any reason.
- Kidnapping is an acceptable substitute for killing, but only if it is for the purpose of plank walking at a later time.
- When swimming, pirates do not dive. They cannonball.
- Cannoneers aboard a pirate vessel are not allowed to use hearing protection of any sort. No matter what the OSHA regulations say, if ye can't stand bleedin' from the ears, you have no business being a Pirate.
- A pirate will never wear a patch that is any other color than black; unless it's halloween. then they can wear a patch with an eyeball painted on the outside. Polka dots are not permitted under any circumstances.
- Female pirates are allowed some exception to rules concerning hygiene and garmentry, but must make up for it by using twice as much profanity.
- Hooks are the only acceptable hand substitute. However, they may not have secondary attachments such as screwdrivers, bottle openers, corkscrews, or nail files. These are Pirates we're talking about, not Inspector Gadget.
- A pirate's diet consists mainly of meat. If at sea, and meat is not available, shoe leather is an acceptable replacement.
- Pirate Law: You can't spell pirate, without "irate". There's a reason for that, so don't even try.
- No pirate will ever, ever raise his pinky when drinking any sort of beverage.
- Pirate Law: When choosing clothing, even if it looks dirty, or smells dirty, it is clean.
- A pirate may ride in a rowboat, if traveling to or from his ship. Use of a Kayak is only permitted if used for cannon target practice.
- When drinking rum, the only thing a pirate adds to the rum is more rum.
- The official Pirate religion is Pastafarianism.
- No pirate shall ever play wiffle ball.
- Under no circumstances does a pirate speak with a Ninja, unless he first decapitates that Ninja and uses his head like a sock puppet.
- When at the office, answering the telephone with "Arrrrrrr" is perfectly acceptable for pirates. Other acceptable choices are "Avast!", and "Ahoy Matey!"
- A Pirate does not read poetry, unless said poetry is scrawled on the wall of a bathroom.
- All women are to be referred to as wenches, with the exception of female Pirates, who can be referred to as "lass".
- Pirates do not clean up, except when gold falls out of a treasure chest.
- Spilling rum is not acceptable, except in the act of "pouring some out for dead mateys".
- A pirate may tell any tale of swashbuckling without being called on the details, as long as at least 51% of the story is true.
- A pirate may never shave below the neck. Shaving above the neck is allowed, but only if the pirate shaves his entire head. In the presence of cannibals, a mohawk is acceptable.
- No pirate may do the arm movements for "YMCA", or engage in country-western line-dancing.
- Pirates do not say "please" or "thank you". The phrase "Arrr, I'll probably kill you tomorrow" is an acceptable alternative for "Thank you".
- Should the ship's bow have a carving of a naked wench, mermaid, or something of the like, crew members should not touch it. Feeling up a wooden statue is unbecoming of a pirate.
- Pirates do not "IM". The only instant message allowed is a sword through the chest.
- Dental Hygiene for Pirates is not a priority. Should there be occasion, however, strong rum or salt water can be used as mouthwash. Anything "minty fresh" is strictly forbidden.
- Pirates never, ever obey laws. Period. Ironic, I realize.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Welcome back. I am back form my weekend van trip to Lost Memorial Day Weekend. I had a great time, partied with some great vanners, saw some killer rides, and as always, it was over too soon. Now to get ready for the Nats!
My new trailer worked great, made for worse mileage (by about 2mpg...whatever), but not having all our stuff piled up in the van so as not to be able to move made the trade off worth while. Here's a few pics to enjoy.
This classic van now sports a new coat of art done by my friend Guy (who sadly did not make it this year) Why I didn't get a picture of the new mural... well, they were parked a little close during the show, and I didn't catch up the rest of the weekend, so I now have a new mission. Get a pic of the Eagle's new paint!
This one features some awesome stained glass portholes.
This is the van Visions. Truly an excellent example of an updated classic. The body is a mid Ford, but the nose features headlights from a modern era Chevy pickup. Awesome body work on this one.
What the?!? That top wasn't chopped last year!! Still an amazing van, and the funny part is it's the owners work truck!
Hey I even made the light show this year! All in all I have to say I had a great time, and special thanks go out to my friends in Moon Lite Vans of Reading PA. for letting me park with them. (and not kidnapping Finnegan! :D ) See you in Altamont in July!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Ok, so these guys in no way represent vanners. They are pretty much just dorks with a van. Not really helping our image much, but I have to say these ads do make me laugh. I love the way the wizard goes "uuuuuoooh, it's YOU guys..." Props to Altell for making the van a central theme in their ads tho... even if it is a spoof of another phone companies ads... which we'll see tomorrow.
One side note that bugs me regarding this van tho... that door clearly came from another van. The way the mural abruptly stops at the jambs and the fact that it is a completely different shade of brown really stand out and bother me.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Ok, I admit, I have never played the game, and I think learning how to play a real guitar is much cooler (sorry GH fans), I have to tip my hat to the fact that the animators of this ad not only included a van, but it was a radical custom! A tandem! Sooooo the bomb!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thought i'd do a bit of a theme week. Lately it seems as though 70's style custom vans have been used a lot in advertising. The latest is one for Stride Gum. I love that the included this classic looking mid-Ford in the ad, especially as it has NOTHING to do with the product, and is only used as a getaway van for their hijinks. Enjoy.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Anyhoo, this classic mid-Ford van entitled Miss Behavin' which was used by by a company called J&J in their ads back in the 70's, was until recently delegated to guarding the inside of the barn it was sitting in for many years. The owner wanted $1800.00 for it. (where are these deals when i have the money????) It's now owned proudly by a midwest vanner. I am looking forward to seeing it in person at the Nats this year in Altamont Il.
Seriously, this thing is a gorgeous time capsule. Glad it was saved and will be back at shows.
I just read a pretty interesting article regarding the recent sucess of superhero movies, and the majorites of them being Marvel characters. Having been a DC fan first off, I have been wondering "where are the DC movies?" THis article explains a bit. I have to say I was looking forward to the upcoming Justice League film. Bummer it's on hold.
On a side note, if they were to make a Aquaman film, and took the direction mentioned in the article that would suck. He already gets little respect, and that would just worsen things. His story would make a great film, as he has a rich history, backstory, and supporting cast. Not to mention it would have the potential to be visually amazing.
"So, if you're Superman, and you heard this week that Thor—Thor!—got a release date for his movie, do you wonder what on your adopted planet you have to do to get on the calendar?
The answer might be: Be a Marvel character.
This week, hot off Iron Man's $102-million opening weekend, Marvel issued a "partial" list of eight upcoming superhero movies, everything from Iron Man 2 to Thor. All but Ant-Man had scheduled release dates.
Meanwhile, rival DC Comics' characters, from Aquaman to Wonder Woman, and with the very large exception of Batman, remain in various stages of, if you'll pardon the vulgar Hollywood expression, development.
"I really don't see a big difference between the potential of Marvel versus DC characters on the big screen," wrote Mike Voiles, editor of Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, in an email interview.
Well, actually, there is one big difference, as comic experts like Voiles are quick point out: Marvel is its own entity, cutting its own deals, and even financing its own movies. DC Comics is a subsidiary of Warner Bros.
"Even higher profile DC properties have to fight through other Warner priorities and projects to get made," Voiles wrote.
To Jim Littler, webmaster of ComicBookMovie.com, the long-planned Wonder Woman movie is a prime example of the superhuman challenges a DC superhero can face.
"Warner Bros. was able to get Joss Whedon at the helm—AND THEN THEY REJECTED HIS SCRIPT! Joss Whedon of Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more!" Littler wrote in an email. "I'll bet the DC people were crying when that fell apart."
More than a decade ago, it was Marvel heroes who were having all the rotten luck in Hollywood. Spider-Man wasn't much more than a 1970s TV washout. The Fantastic Four were fit for an unreleased Roger Corman B-movie. Captain America was singed in a direct-to-video bomb.
Now, it's DC's turn. While the comic giant's characters continue to be huge small-screen players, on Smallville and in various animated series, they're getting swamped by Marvel's gang at the multiplex. Superman vs. Batman was scrapped. Justice League of America fell apart. And all sorts of cape- and tight-wearers are cooling their boots—even Superman, who's doesn't yet have a definitive start date for his next movie, two years after Superman Returns grossed $200 million.
According to Littler, DC's troubles have nothing to do with DC's characters.
"Many comic fans think DC has a much stronger lineup than Marvel does," Littler said. "I can think of at least three or four more franchises that they haven't even touched yet that could be as big as anything Marvel has put out."
Few, in fact, expect any comic-book movie to be bigger this summer than The Dark Knight, starring DC's own Batman (with an assist from Christian Bale). Filmmaker Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated Batman Begins sequel opens July 18.
Even in star-crossed times for his JLA colleagues, the Caped Crusader reigns. "I've never run into any comics fan who doesn't like Batman," Littler said.
Now, if only some of his mojo could rub off on the Green Lantern.
Here's a look at some of the upcoming Marvel-based movies, and their scheduled release dates, per the company:
* The Incredible Hulk (June 13)
* Punisher: War Zone (Dec. 5)
* X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1, 2009)
* Iron Man 2 (April 30, 2010)
* Thor (June 4, 2010)
* The First Avenger: Captain America (working title) (May 6, 2011)
* The Avengers (July 2011)
* Ant-Man (no announced date)
And here's a look at the statuses of some of the planned DC-based movies, per ComicBookMovie.com:
* Aquaman: "According to Comic Book Resources, the producers want to make a screwball comedy of it."
* The Flash: Wedding Crashers' David Dobkin was signed to direct last year.
* Green Lantern: Greg Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters, Eli Stone) is writing a script; Jack Black won't star—at least he promised as much back in 2006.
* Justice League of America: "Tabled."
* Superman: The Man of Steel: Director Bryan Singer's on board. Superman Returns star Brandon Routh's on board. Filming might begin "early next year," per Routh, who admittedly doesn't have the power to schedule such things.
* Wonder Woman: "Sitting uncomfortably on the backburner."
Friday, May 9, 2008
My favorite on line comic "Breakfast of the Gods" has just begun book three "Apocalypse Yum". I beleive this is third in a trilogy. If you haven't checked this out it's well worth it. I have posted links to one and two respectively, and they are available from the site itself. Dig in and enjoy!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I am really looking forward to the new Iron Man film which is coming out this week. Check out this article I just found. KIck Ass!!!!
(gotta admit the "Cyberdyne" thing is a little creepy tho)
The prospect of slipping into a robotic exoskeleton that could enhance strength, keep the body active while recovering from an injury or even serve as a prosthetic limb has great appeal. Unlike the svelt body armor donned by Iron Man, however, most exoskeletons to date have looked more like clunky spare parts cobbled together.
Japan's CYBERDYNE, Inc. is hoping to change that with a sleek, white exoskeleton now in the works that it says can augment the body's own strength or do the work of ailing (or missing) limbs. The company is confident enough in its new technology to have started construction on a new lab expected to mass-produce up to 500 robotic power suits (think Star Wars storm trooper without the helmet) annually, beginning in October, according to Japan's Kyodo News Web site.
CYBERDYNE was launched in June 2004 to commercialize the cybernetic work of a group of researchers headed by Yoshiyuki Sankai a professor of system and information engineering at Japan's University of Tsukuba. Its newest product: the Robot Suit Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) exoskeleton, which the company created to help train doctors and physical therapists, assist disabled people, allow laborers to carry heavier loads, and aid in emergency rescues. A prototype of the exoskeleton suit is designed for the small in stature, standing five feet, three inches (1.6 meters) tall. The suit weighs 50.7 pounds (23 kilograms) and is powered by a 100-volt AC battery (that lasts up to five hours, depending upon how much energy the suit exerts). By way of comparison, a lower-body exoskeleton developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Biomechatronics Group is powered by a 48-volt battery pack and weighs about 26 pounds (11.8 kilograms).
CYBERDYNE (which film buffs will recognize as the name of the company that built the ill-fated "Skynet" in the Terminator movies) designed the HAL exoskeleton primarily to enhance the wearer's existing physical capabilities 10-fold. The exoskeleton detects—via a sensor attached to the wearer's skin—brain signals sent to muscles to get them moving. The exoskeleton's computer analyzes these signals to determine how it must move (and with how much force) to assist the wearer. The company claims on its Web site that the device can also operate autonomously (based on data stored in its computer), which is key when used by people suffering spinal cord injuries or physical disabilities resulting from strokes or other disorders.
The HAL exoskeleton is currently only available in Japan, but the company says it has plans to eventually offer it in the European Union as well. The company will rent (no option to buy at this time) the suits for about $1,300 per month (including maintenance and upgrades), according to the company's site, which also says that rental fees will vary: Health care facilities and other businesses renting the suits will pay about three times as much as individuals. The site does not explain why, and the company could not be reached for comment.
CYBERDYNE is not the only company developing exoskeleton technology. The U.S. Army is in the very early stages of testing an aluminum exoskeleton created by Sarcos, a Salt Lake City robotics and medical device manufacturer (and a division of defense contractor Raytheon), to improve soldiers' strength and endurance. The exoskeleton is made of a combination of sensors, actuators and controllers, and can help the wearer lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring, the company said Wednesday in a press release. The company also claims the suit is agile enough to play soccer and climb stairs and ramps.
But there are still many kinks that must be worked out before HAL or any other exoskeleton become part of everyday life. Exoskeletons work in parallel with human muscles, serving as an artificial system that helps the body overcome inertia and gravity, says Hugh Herr, principal investigator for M.I.T.'s Biomechatronics Group, which is developing a light, low-power exoskeleton that straps to a person's waist, legs and feet. Wearers' feet go into boots attached to a series of metal tubes that run up a leg to a backpack. The device transfers the backpack's payload from the back of the wearer to the ground.
One of the difficulties in developing exoskeletons for health care is the diversity of medical needs they must meet. "One might have knee and ankle problems, others might have elbow problems," Herr says. "How in the world do you build a wearable robot that accommodates a lot of people?"
There are also concerns about the exoskeleton discouraging rehabilitation by doing all of the work of damaged limbs that might benefit from even limited use. "If the orthotic does everything," Herr says, "the muscle degrades, so you want the orthotic to do just the right amount of work."
Power efficiency could also become an issue, given that the HAL moves thanks to a number of electric motors placed throughout the exoskeleton. The problem with electrical power is that you have to recharge, says Ray Baughman, professor of chemistry and director of the University of Texas at Dallas's NanoTech Institute. Baughman and his colleagues have been developing substances that serve as artificial muscles (by converting chemical energy into electrical energy) that may someday be able to move prosthetic limbs and robot parts. Their goal is to avoid the downtime inherent in motor-powered prosthetics that must be recharged.
Makes you appreciate Iron Man's strength and agility all the more.
Alright all you commie bastards. Sorry I have been away for a while, but I hope to get back on track here. For the time being, check out this little beauty I stumbled across.
the peoples mario
Also, how friggin' creepy is that image of Mario as a real person???