Surrendering to a higher voltage.

At a certain level, it’s all energy and energies.i What our most flowery poetry conveys, what our bloodiest wars determine, and what our genes pass onto the next generation is all, at its most fundamental, a matter of Newtons and Watts. In essence, that’s all there really is: energy. E=mc², y’know? Is it any wonder that mystics and ancients have been obsessed with energy since time immemorial?ii And that our current TVtastic western culture is so keenly obsessed with electric transportation and solar panels, now that we’ve “progressed” beyond the all-but-forgotten “nuclear age“? So energy it has always been and energy it will always be.

And so it is that Castle Contravex was was filled with much energy this week, not least of all from the 108-year-old technology known as “slot cars.” Heralding from the earlier days of electrification (ie. piped-in-energy), this innovation of the Lionel Train Company lives on in new but familiar configurations. Secured to the track with a 5mm plastic pin as the only mechanical connection save friction, two little toy cars run on separate (but twice crossing over) tracks around a circuit with electrical conductors to power them. Motive power is controlled via wired handheld guns with only a variable speed trigger. It’s simple yet competitive, requiring some degree of dexterity but moreso a healthy dose of racer’s edge. A brilliant purchase by The Girl, then, for Niko’s 5th birthday this week.iii

Since we can never completely divorce ourselves from our socioeconomic milieus, and since the “medium boy”iv is beyond fascinated with all things mechanical and motorised, particularly those in the automotive realm, gifting him his very own slot car trackv was a spark of genius. I mean, it’s not another whiz-bang screen! Jumping into it headlong, within the first hour, Niko’d already figured out how to handicap races in his favour and had unequivocally determined that this was “fair” because it’s his game and not mine, a line of reasoning not easy to argue against. Ownership is ownership, not debate club!vi

Slot Car 5th Birthday

Additionally, Niko’s figured out how to make his slot car go quite quickly by applying steady pressure to the handheld trigger near the limit of the car’s adhesion. He’s pretty decent at finding that sweet spot, but that he hasn’t yet experimented with the art of easing off the gas over the jumps and hammering the gas in the straights is just fine and dandy… because neither has his father. Not having grown up with slot cars, but instead having worked backwards from supercars to DD2 kartsvii to Briggs & Stratton kartsviii and finally to slot cars, we’re approaching this game from very diametrically opposing angles, but I wouldn’t underestimate his youthfully quick reflexes just yet, nor the amount of time he has to practice while daddy’s “working.”ix Also, there seems to be as much to the strategy of knocking the other car off at one of the crossovers as there is in finding the limit of adhesion and staying there. Most races are won and lost as a result of crashes, either two car crashes at the crossovers or single car crashes at the end of the downhill into Turn 1.

In any event, this little game will surely serve us well during the cold winter to come, and in the years to come. Sunrise, sunset… because where else does our energy come from?x

___ ___ ___

  1. So keep it positive man! I mean, it works for Virgil and Bjarke pretty nicely. Why shouldn’t it work for us mere mortals?

    bizarro aaa meeting

  2. The more fully we give our energy, the more it returns to us.

    ~Gautama Buddha

    Birth and death are of the physical world. They are put of the duality that surrounds us — light and dark, heat and cold. But energy can never be created or destroyed; it transforms from one form to another. Energy is in essence, non-dual.

    ~Bhagavad Gita

    Thermodynamics proposes, kinetics disposes

    ~Uncle Al


  3. Remember my intro to daddy blogging article? That was half-a-decade ago!
  4. Niko likes to call himself “medium boy,” in a very Goldilocksian way, because he’s neither “little” nor “big.” This business of seeking the greys is clearly rubbing off! Of course, Ari is still a “baby” because that’s just what your younger brother always is.
  5. LifeHawk Hot Pursuit Slot Car Track, to be precise. Dad bought the boy a couple of “8+” and “9+” LEGO sets because how else is he supposed to win LEGO competitions when he’s 7-years-old, like his old man did? 
  6. That being said, I’m keen to remind the young man that playing games as a family isn’t strictly about rules and ownership, it’s as much about sharing and giving. Families, after all, are socialist. This is how the diagonal works!

    A saying by the brothers Geoff and Vince Graham summarizes the
    ludicrousness of scale-free political universalism.
    I am, at the Fed level, libertarian;
    at the state level, Republican;
    at the local level, Democrat;
    and at the family and friends level, a socialist.

    via Skin In The Game by NN Taleb.

  7. As of this month, I’m now the proud owner of my own CRG! After my first full five-session day, my hands hurt for a week. Three g’s in the corners will do that. Shit’s fucking physical!
  8. It turns out that basically the funnest thing in the entire world is NASCAR-style-full-throttle-drafting-battles around the newly extended 4km Strawberry Creek Raceway. There’s a new infield karting track but it’s nowhere near as pleasurable, exhilarating, and competitive as 4-stroke karts on the wide-open straightaways designed for cars. The new elevations changes in the extended sections are an absolute riot in these 5hp rocketships. The freshly-paved blacktop never expected such joy!
  9. “Working” is in quotation marks because I don’t do jobs, you see. So I really don’t want to give any false impressions.

    “We don’t do Jobs”
    In 1989, a bunch of young Aleppo Jews arrived in NY, the last to leave Syria. A friend of mine went to greet them & offer help in securing employment:
    “We don’t do jobs”
    They started selling shoes in Harlem & the Bronx. 30 y later they all have yuuge mansions.

    ~NN Taleb

  10. It’s been said before but it bears repeating: a lifetime just isn’t that long!

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