What a Rube

We are home, mostly recovered from the jetlag, and almost done sorting through the pictures. I shall have vacation tales for you soon!

In the meantime, it looks like an amazing music video was released right around the time we got back. OK GO produced a 2nd video for their single This Too Shall Pass, featuring an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that runs for the duration of the song and was built to sync up to the music with its blerks and borks and crashes and movements.

It’s amazing.

There is a very special place in my heart for Rube Goldberg machines.

When I was in elementary school I was part of a team in a district-wide Rube Goldberg competition. The machine had to start a certain way (activated with one finger I believe), contain at least X steps (I forget how many now – somewhere around 13), and finish by launching a beanbag into the center of a circular target on the floor.

I don’t remember much about the specifics of our machine, except that it finished by launching the beanbag off an old metal-frame foot-pump for blowing up bike tires and soccer balls and the like.

We were a pre-pubescent team of perfectionists, and rigorously tested our machine in my driveway, running it multiple times to confirm the distance it would launch the sample beanbag we were given, and used that distance to measure exactly how far from the edge of the circle we needed to set up the final step of the machine to hit the center target.

Competition day.

We are nervous but confident. We have our beanbag launching precision down to the centimeter.

We confirm the distance and set up our machine. Nervously, one of us hits the “go” button.

Tick. Tock. Smash. Ping. Crash. Swivel. Ping. Pop…. LAUNCH!

Our soft fabric beanbag sails through the air in a graceful arc! We hold our breath as it goes… up, up, up, down, down, down…. BINGO!

The beanbag landed EXACTLY in the center of the target.

The target on the smooth (completely un-like my driveway) polished concrete floor of the de-iced community rink we were in. And slid. Nearly to the other side of the circle.

The highly unqualified (in my oh-so-expert opinion) panel of judges awarded the prize to the much less prepared rinky-dink team from another school whose beanbag haphazardly slid nearest to the target. We got the launching aspect of the competition nailed. Too bad they hadn’t informed us of the curling part. We lost.

And thus I experienced my first lesson in how not to test, and that sometimes those in charge of RFPs don’t know to supply all the required parameters to build something that works, and that sometimes you fail and go away in tears, and if you’re lucky you get to adjust your work and try again another day, but sometimes it means you just lose.

But enough about me. Back to OK GO!

Their machine goes off without a hitch, including the payoff at the end. Please watch, and think of an 8-year-old me and my machine when you do!

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One thought on “What a Rube

  1. Susan Low

    I believe I had a similar experience with a mousetrap-powered car which couldn’t get any traction on the shiny gym floor and therefore skidded its way about 1/3 of the distance it had been traveling on the concrete in front of my house. Heartbreak. I am so glad that OK Go makes videos like this to soothe the inner-rube-goldberg-machine-making-child of so many.
    .-= Susan Low´s last blog ..Olympic commentary #3 – Our Olympic Experience =-.

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