1997

Services Family John R. Borchert

 

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1997 The Borcherts 1997

Those who know us well know that Borcherts are master collectors. Collectors in the eclectic sense, in that we donít actually organize, categorize, or catalogue our collections, which makes us, in fact, agents of thinly-veiled chaos. So, letís look at a few of these "collections".

Last spring, with both of our Odyssey of the Mind teams creating androids as part of their presentations, we had collections of arms, heads, eyeballs, wigs, and various discarded appendages. Karenís team created a benevolent robot who helped a little girl rejoin the human world after accidentally being turned into a doll-size girl. Mike and Tomís team created an android they lovingly dubbed "Bob Dole" in honor of the political season. With art imitating life, his right arm suddenly quit working. The team managed to fix that, so that when the arms worked, they had more than a full range of motion. Also, his eyes blinked, his head turned, he stood up, and his mouth moved. This, in combination with the speaker in his chest, allowed him to talk. The mechanics of the solution were in Bob, but the brains were in a connected computer, where a combination of programming, a database, and a specialized output card created simple tasks. These simple tasks were combined and put into many different "complex tasks," which could be waving, talking, standing, throwing cards across the room, or trying to draw a gun (the skit had a western gambling theme). The result was an engineering miracle, appreciated by all who understood what these guys had accomplished. Of course, during their practices, it was not always clear Bob would perform as desired. A high point of the season was on the morning of one of the competitions, when his head flew off as he stood up, landing on the other side of our living room.

Another collection that has grown this year is our menagerie of animals. Flopsy the rabbit has taught us lots about bunny behavior. Did you know that rabbits run circles around people if they are happy, and that they believe feet are other bunnies? Daveís feet are definitely the alpha rabbit, and Tomís feet are the enemy, always pounced on when they walk by. Flopsyís world has been upset recently, though, as Patís love of cats has overcome her and two kittens have joined the zoo. One is fluffy and black, and the other is a striped tiger. We are still struggling with names, since we understand the permanence of that decision, and we have only had them for one week. They have reached a truce with Flopsy, so that Flopsy no longer thumps her back leg whenever they walk by (thumping is how she warns the other rabbits she knows are around Ė remember the feet?). Flopsy often follows them around the study, where they sniff each other, nose to nose. So now we have a bunny, two kittens, a lizard, a hamster, and fish. We think thatís enough for now.

One of our collections is shrinking, and that is our collection of children living at home. "Launching" Mike into post-high school activities has been both frightening and rewarding. This step is a bit overwhelming at least to the parents, but Mike seems to be weathering it well. After a fine finish to high school, Mike has mastered the art of being a college freshman. He is well-established at Carleton College, where he has started a collection of his own Ė a collection of new experiences and activities. In his first quarter, he has learned ultimate frisbee as a defense against gaining the "freshman fifteen" pounds that occur through absorbing nutrients (a college studentís description of dorm food). He also mastered riding a unicycle, learned how to play a viol de Gamba in a medieval music group, and became the "prop man" for the production of Hamlet. In the process, he also learned the meaning of the word "over-committed", as he claimed that many parts of college are not advertised in their brochures, such as the need to study until 2 am every night, wake up for that morning class, be alert all day, and study again into the night. In the process, he also collected some other new experiences, in that he is now a vegetarian, and attends the Unitarian services held on campus.

So, as usual, changes continue in the Borchert household. We have another son preparing to leave home, as Tom agonizes over his essays for his many applications to a variety of colleges. Karen starts Junior High in 1998, so who knows what that will bring. Dave continues to grow his collection of employees, as Mike, Tom, nephew Peter, and sometimes even Pat help his clients Ė he never thought he would have to spend so much time as a manager! Pat continues to participate in the free-for-all at fast-paced Ascend, but who knows what changes will happen in the next year Ė past history predicts constant change. Just about the only thing that does not change is our pace of life Ė notice that we are following in last yearís pattern of getting this out after the New Year. We hope 1998 is a good year for all Ė filled with love, good health, and time for contemplation

 

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