Photoshop Phriday – Week 4 – Super Tim

I’ve made no secret of the fact that when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be just like Superman. After experimenting with various ways to gain superpowers, I gave up and set my sites on being the next Batman, then quarterback sensation (4th grade to 7th grade), lawyer (8th grade off/on until I found out Constitutional Law was only available as an 8am class at Luther), mild-mannered reporter, and eventually teacher.

This week I decided to spare my brothers embarrassment and picked one that featured only me (and part of my dad) which meant picking a birthday photo since we tended to be shot in group format at most other times of the year. In this one I had just woken up, thrown my clothes out into the hall for the wash, and was presented with my awesome new shirt which I wore as often as Mom would allow. Trying to find an appropriate modern picture to work from, I found the one inset from a recent Christmas where I was similarly sleepy.

Superman shirt for birthday

Geek Out – Man of Steel Style

Superman's beardOn YouTube over the past week I’ve been bombarded with ads by Gillette regarding how Superman shaves. Canon from the books, Lois and Clark, and the animated series purports he uses a mirror to reflect his heat vision. I’ve never been a huge fan of that as he would have to trim his hair that way. How many times would he get super-sneezes trying to clean up his nose hair before he got it down right?

So I checked out the ad and thought for sure someone would agree with the way I had envisioned. Bill Nye’s theory was that he shaved by grinding his hair down like a power sander, which is laborious and doesn’t address his coiffure. Mayim Bialik suggests that he has an enzymatic lotion, which again, would give him Lex Luthor’s hair instead of that perfect spit curl. The final entry, from the Mythbusters, is that he uses the large hadron collider.

None of the experts got it – all of their theories are crap as they were paid by Gillette to think within the box of his facial hair.

Superman’s Hair Care Secret

The closest was Kevin Smith who looked at Superman’s vulnerabilities and ruled out kryptonite (based on the reference he meant green kryptonite – which is an important qualification) and magic (his logic of Superman having to study magic being sound, but he could acquire an enchanted razor from one of Earth’s practitioners). Granted, he could keep around a lead lined charm with blue kryptonite (renders him human during exposure) for days when he wanted to stop by the barber and get a shave or a trim, but why would he choose to subject himself to the possibility of a nemesis dispatching him in such a condition.

The first part of the equation is that Jor El provided for technology for his son in his transport. Canon stipulates that he has a Fortress of Solitude holding the scientific wisdom of Krypton. If you read Reign of the Supermen which came after the Death of Superman, you would have seen that that fortress included a number of robots that maintain his sanctum and service him.

The second part of the equation is an understanding of his superpowers. They are derived from his ability to metabolize and infuse his body with yellow sun radiation. During “Eclipso: The Darkness Within” Superman was cut off from the Earth’s yellow sun and had to rely on fruits and vegetables to regain a portion of his power. Like Daxamites, Superman is vulnerable to red sun radiation as it suppresses his yellow sun powers.

So the solution – a barber bot in the Fortress of Solitude with the ability to generate red sun radiation in a targeted manner. Need a shave, the red sun laser targets the follicles, rendering them mundane enough for a standard razor to cut them. The same goes for his nose hair and coif. Who is going to believe that Clark Kent and Superman are different people if they both show up with poorly shorn hair? In addition, his Fortress sensors should pick up any incoming threat with sufficient time for the cantaloupe pomade to be applied, so as to avoid duplicating Lex Luthor’s iconic look in the event of a super-villain assault.

Cover photo courtesy:  Ben Northern

How the St. Peter Tornado Made Me a Better Man

St. Peter Tornado

Trees uprooted by the St. Peter Tornado, courtesy of the St. Peter Herald

It’s been 15 years today since a tornado cut a huge swath through St. Peter, MN. I’ve written previously about where I was the night it happened – I was on my way back from my grandfather’s funeral in Texas. There was an outpouring of aid from the surrounding communities and a glut of volunteers. I did little aside from drive past, gawking at the destruction; the once majestic trees that lined the lined 169 through downtown were gone. I had other things to do and manual labor had never been my cup of tea. I was working long hours and was active in the Community Education program teaching MS Office, Windows, and HTML.

That summer I was working 100+ hour weeks doing two jobs – Web Designer/Account Manager from 7-3 (eating at my desk) and Tutor/Counselor/Instructor at Upward bound from 3:15-10:30 with full days on the weekends driving kids around or helping them confront their fears on the ropes course. It was intensely rewarding, but I knew that I needed to find another outlet – another way to make a difference in the community.

A few weeks later I had a meeting with my financial adviser who was the president of the local Junior Chamber (Jaycee) chapter. They were having a membership initiative and she gave me the hard sell. I took the membership slip back with me to my office and it sat there staring at me. At the time I was an agnostic and so the first sentence of the creed stuck in my craw – “We believe that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.” It wasn’t faith in something greater than yourself, it was specifically faith in “God.” Like our national motto and pledge of allegiance which were changed in the 1950s to reference “God” as a bulwark against the spread of communism, I learned that the creed had added that line in roughly the same timeline.

After some internal back and forth, I signed the application, wrote out my check, and headed upstairs to drop it off. I told her that I was submitting my membership but I wasn’t promising to recite the creed exactly as it was written (in truth on multiple occasions I mouthed the first line just like I would fake singing when I would go to church with my parents). I told her how in my estimation, if there was an all-powerful deity, lying to him/her to make other people feel comfortable was a no-no. I also probably went on about my favorite philosophical rant about how only an atheist could truly do good because a theist believes that the good they do will be rewarded in the afterlife, so they’re just being selfish like putting money in the bank for a later day.

As a new member, the expectation was that I should run a project. She had just the one picked out – Rake the Town. I was to promote the event to the membership and convince a number of them to join me in raking 4 yards in St. Peter (evidently all of Mankato was covered by the time I called in). It was a chilly day and I arrived in advance of the team. I was nervous – while I was comfortable leading students from Upward Bound and gamers (first two-term president of the college gaming club), regular people were sometimes intimidating.

By the time we were finishing up the last yard, I was exhausted and questioning why I was out here and why I had joined. It was about that time that the owner of the house came out to thank us. There were tears in her eyes and I wasn’t sure why – it wasn’t a big yard and it took us about 10 minutes to do. Then she told us about how the day after the tornado she hadn’t known what she would do until people showed up and started picking up her yard for her. She was reliving that moment and so excited to see that people would exhibit this level of kindness for someone they didn’t even know. I could tell she was having a hard time coping with the emotion and we were also experiencing it with her so several of us exchanged hugs with her before leaving for the day.

That moment made me feel a bit like a superhero, getting me in touch with my dream job from childhood. If I hadn’t been such a slacker and gotten yards in Mankato, I don’t know if I would have stuck with the organization. I’ve faded in and out of the organization a number of times when I felt like I was sacrificing too much of my time and career, but I’m back again, helping out the state organization as a trustee for the foundation. It’s a rush to hang out with people who are inspired to change their communities.