April 18, 2005

Is "helicopter" an indoor toy?

Some, weak of constitution and small of mind, might say "no." I would argue, "yes."

Yes, yes, a million times yes. Yes it is yes I will yes.

So, I was driving around Bellevue (population: mini-malls) today, somewhat aimlessly, mostly feeling sorry for myself but also checking out the latest growths in mini-malls. The great thing about a mini-mall is it's like store roulette -- you drive along and each storefront is something entirely different. Sushi! Tires! Motorcycles! Aquariums! Tacos! Unknown business with generic name! Car customization! Possible CIA front! Nail salon! Gun range! I'm not making these up!

My putative errand was to see if I could get a bid on a stereo for my new car (everyone asks the same thing: "Is it fast?" I like to answer, "Nope!"), because I'd decided not to just walk into the nearest stereo store and take the first thing they recommended to me. I'm rather proud of this decision, as it represents something of a watershed moment in my maturity as a consumer.

The car weasels had told me there was an audio store that had experience with my particular car, and even gave me a convenient map to said store. Possibly, a lesser man might suspect there are some sort of kickbacks involved if a car dealer gave him a map to an obscure audio store he recommended. Not I.

The audio place was on "2st Street", which I naïvely assumed might be 2nd Street (possibly in some language other than English or French, since I know in France they have, like, "bis" and crap instead of "st" and "nd" and "rd"). In fact, they meant 21st street. I did ruminate briefly on the irony of going to the trouble of printing up a map to show people to your store and then not actually checking to see if, you know, the actual street is represented in a way decipherable to your potential customers. Ah, well, life's full of mysteries.

So I found the audio place by random driving around, but of course it was closed. I did see that there was an orange duplicate of my car inside their showroom, which struck me as an expensive way to advertise that they work on this car. I mean, couldn't they use a poster? Are they going to buy one of each kind of car in the world, to demonstrate that they can, indeed, put stereos in pretty much anything? Or was this like those asian places that have those plastic mockups of the food you're considering eating, and the car was actually a big shiny fake? (And, if so, where can I buy a full-size plastic car, because that seems like a fun thing to, like, bring to the beach and throw at people. "Hey, Bob, think fast!")

Possibly it was just a car in the middle of a stereo install. I'll never know.

A little more driving around found me at a hobby shop, which is kind of the "home of my people." (I dated a girl once who was notoriously cheap (think money, not morality), and we always joked that the outlet mall was the "home of her people.") Something called to me from within... I'd been thinking about starting up a tabletop gaming campaign among my friends; maybe I'd find some inspiring miniatures inside? (Snicker if you want: gaming allows me to get together with my buddies every other week and get drunk and laugh for four hours. Also, seriously, some people throw candle parties. Is this lamer than a candle party?)

Once inside, I asked the guy if he had any, you know, small helicopters. His eyes lit up, and he showed me a box, which, sure enough, contained a tiny, remote-controlled helicopter. "Oh, you mean this one, yes?" Apparently, he thought I had something particular in mind. Really, I was just wondering if there were such a thing as small helicopters. [Answer: yes.]

Well, I think we all know that I bought it, because this story would be pretty lame if I ended it here with, "So, I decided this was a completely frivolous purchase and went home to sulk for a few hours. The end."

The best part of the purchase was when he showed me the giant wall of replacement parts they kept on hand just for this particular copter. Hmm, bodes well! At least they weren't selling, like, crutches and eyepatches and shit.

So I took the copter home, and after charging it up for a while I decided to try it out. Now, it's pretty small, and it's electric, and the blades are made of nylon. This isn't like the LAST time I bought a RC helicopter, which was gigantic (like, five foot blades) and gas-powered and required advanced degrees just to start and came with a warning that THE ROTORS COULD CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF. I'm seriously not kidding about that. We think we eventually got it put together correctly, but we never knew for sure because we never started the engine, honestly. (It still sits at Omni, and if you make them a reasonable offer I'm sure they'd part with it.)

So, yes, the living room seemed like a reasonable place for my first test flight. My thinking was: (a) the rug is soft, so the rotors won't be destroyed when I tip the thing over and auger it into the ground, and (b) the rug is clean, so the rotors won't get dirty when I tip the thing over and auger it into the ground, and (c) there's lots of soft furniture and/or cats around, which will keep the copter from flying away at high speed before tipping over and augering into the ground. Also, (d) it's the middle of the night and the only light is inside, and (e) I'm in a robe and don't want to go outside. (If you think flying a helicopter in a robe is stupid, consider that originally I was padding around naked, but suddenly had a flash of a possible consequence of naked-indoor-helicopter-flying.)

Did I actually "fly" my new helicopter indoors? Well, that depends. Do you consider what Orville and Wilbur did on December 17, 1903 to be "flying," or just "hopping off the ground for a couple seconds with potential?"

I would answer, yes, it flew. Yes it did yes it will yes.

And then it tipped over and augered into the ground.



Anonymous pfm0 said...

hrmm... sounds cool - I didn't know they made smaller ones either. Wasn't ready to go the whole hog and buy the decapitation model.

May go for the finger chopper though.

Thanks for the good story.
Cocoa groupie.

April 18, 2005 10:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good story, but you've never been on a date.

April 20, 2005 7:40 PM

Blogger thomas Aylott said...

The robe was probably a wise addition to this activity.

A friend of mine once had the afore mentioned decapitation model. He got this+ helicopter. They tediously put it all together. They were finally ready for their maiden voyage. He decided that since it was new he didn't want it to go sailing off into the sky, never to be see again (except for the 6 o'clock news program titled "More Terrorist Airplane Activity").

He decided to tether his new expensive helicopter to the ground. It lifted off the ground, instantly hit the end of the rope & then made a wonderful curving arc right back to the ground and smashed itself to bits.
So he destroyed it by trying to protect it. Relationships are like that.

April 22, 2005 7:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Good story, but you've never been on a date.

He went on a date with your mom. Of course, that had less to do with his having charm and panache as his having twenty bucks.

June 25, 2005 9:25 AM

Anonymous h4x0r said...

um, lol k

September 15, 2005 3:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find the juxtaposition of "augering a helicopter into the ground" with Ulysses to be particularily intriguing.

Bloomsday, for me, goes with the "concept of Junkyard Wars", so I fully understand.

August 08, 2006 4:50 AM


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