Building The Bionic Dad
Col. Steve Austin wouldn’t have lasted a week in my war.
Way back in the deep, dark reaches of time, back in the dim horror we all survived (as opposed to enjoyed. Or lived.) called 1973, when bell-bottom pants were a fashion statement (and not one that said, “I’m appalling and can’t be taken seriously), Col. Steve Austin barely survived a catastrophic crash of his space vehicle.
Clinging to life, his not-yet-cooling not-yet-corpse self was confiscated by a shadowy agency run by a man with odd taste in eyewear and subjected to bizarre experiments and painful surgeries. He emerged from these trivails supposedly “better, stronger, faster” and worked as a superhero/secret agent with bionic legs, a bionic arm and a bionic eye.
Being a stay-at-home dude, I sometimes find myself being a bad parent and clicking through the channels in search of something inoffensive to keep various little men occupied for just one flippin’ minute so I can get a chance to think. I recently stumbled on the Six Million Dollar Man television show. Contrary to its stated purpose, it actually got me to thinking.
What kind of mechanical devices could be used to do various bits and pieces of the job we dads do? In other words, what would a bionic dad look like? I’m pretty certain the bionic dad wouldn’t be as good looking as Col. Steve Austin*, but let’s start with what he’s got and see where we can go from there.
Since you’re still here after all that, I’m going to assume you’re interested in what follows. Which means it’s time to set the parameters of what we’d need.
To start with, we’re going to need something to pick up the little dudes, change their diapers and bounce them up and down to burble up the burp bubbles. As they get older, we’re still going to need something to pick up the trails of detritus that will grow spontaneously in the growing child’s footsteps because certainly it’s not them who is leaving behind shoes, clothing, bits of schoolwork, food or anything else that had been spotted anywhere near their path. Eventually, we’re going to need something with which to hand over the car keys and the wallet.
For all these uses, that means we’re going to need a really advanced robotic arm. No, it doesn’t look like Steve Austin’s bionic arm, but we work with what we can get. In this case, the Cytron Gamma 1500 from Robai. Of course, it can only pick up at most 2 kg (around 4.5 pounds), so it will require some finesse to make it work like a biological DadArm.
We’re going to need something with which to aim that robot arm at the correct pile of . . . stuff we need to pick up. Oh, and make sure we are grabbing the right kid when it’s time to burp. We’re also going to have to find a way to watch out for the little dude doing anything massively self-destructive, such as taste testing the various electrical outlets. And watch as various bits of artwork spring from ambush for a quick visual assault on whatever senses are still working.
So we’re going to need some kind of visual input. I’m going to take that to mean we need some kind of surveilance camera. These things come in varieties that go from tiny button cameras to full-sized, rotating beauties with astonishing resolution. Since, according to my kids, Dads can see things no one else can (for instance, the half-sandwich moldering away under the bed, which has swollen to twice its former size from the massive amounts of mold using it as a spawning ground), I think there’s only one real replacement. Yep, the Hubble Space Telescope.
Yeah, that looks to be about what’s necessary to spot the subtle clues that someone might have, possibly, taken the car out without permission. You know the kind of miniscule clues like the seat being in the wrong position, the car being parked in a different place and McDonald’s wrappers everywhere in the backseat. Yeah, you’d definitely need a massively powerful visual-input device to uncover those.
Now, the bionic dad would have to have some way to get around. He’d also have to have something strong to support himself when he’s going on vacation and having to carry every single suitcase his family packed, including the suitcase set aside only for shoes if you can believe it, and all the outfits that got packed for each kid because there’s no way a single kid would actually wear only one outfit a day and wouldn’t you know it we. . . he would need to pack at least three outfits each day but that’s okay because they won’t have to carry them and don’t even think about asking if maybe it would be possible to go a little lighter. It–
You know something? It just might be possible I have some certain issues about this.
Artificial getting-around things. While it’s true that scientists and engineers are working on devices to support and propel parapalegics to walk, and artificial legs that allow amputees to move around, I’m thinking we’re going to need something a bit, well, funnier. For that, I nominate the Titanium Man armor. The Titanium Man was a bad guy who fought Iron Man in the Marvel Comics comics. This would serve two purposes. One, it would boost our bionic dad’s carry capacity and, two, it would also serve to cut him off from the world so he wouldn’t understand what it was like to be a teenager these days, man, because he just can’t understand it.
Sounds like we’re on a roll here, guys. However, I’m going to have to cut it short for now as I have a firm limit as to how many words I’m allowed to use in each one of these. I mean, like my old pappy used to tell me, “Son, there’s something just not right about you.”**
So, until next week, get out there and be dads.
Footnotes & Errata
* Come on. If you don’t think that Lee Majors was the manly man’s man of the entire 1970’s, then you probably weren’t around back then. Or were incapable of getting television reception where you were living. Under that rock. In the middle of nowhere.
** While true, I’m not sure it’s really relevant to the discussion. Much like my old pappy. No, I’m pretty sure the relevant thing he used to tell me would be something more along the lines of “Son, pixels don’t grow on trees, you know.” Or something. It’s fuzzy.