Do you recall my recent Gray Code blog in which we posed the question: Is it possible to create a Gray code sequence for any non-power-of-2 number (so long as it is an even number)?"
Well, the response was overwhelming. It turns out that there are lots of different techniques we can use to achieve this – I'm currently gathering everything together and will report back to you in the not-so-distant future. But that's not what I came here to talk to you about...
Now, do you recall my blog entitled When I was young, old people knew their place? In that blog, I announced that I have just celebrated the 30th anniversary of my 20th birthday. This caused one reader to send me a message saying:
FIFTY!!?? No wonder you were interested in GRAY code counters!
Ha! Very clever (grin). That caused me to laugh out loud. But that's also not what I came here to talk to you about...
The point is that, as I mentioned a in my I cannot wait! blog from few weeks ago, I didn't have a skateboard when I was a young lad growing up in England. As soon as I saw it I wanted one, but we didn't have a lot of money back then. This is why, when I saw the mega-cool boards from the Flowlab I decided to treat myself to one as a pre-50th birthday present to myself (you see, there is a point to all of my ramblings – I love it when a plan comes together!).
Well, the little rascal just arrived and it is GREAT! Called a Flowboard (and very reasonably priced at $89.99 for the complete, pre-assembled 36-inch deck and wheels) this little scamp handles like a snowboard on concrete. We've recently had some new arrivals in our area, with the result that there are now 17 kids (including me) living on our street, but I'm the one with the coolest board!
Unlike a regular skateboard with two pairs of wheels, the front-and-back wheel assemblies on a Flowboard comprise curved/arced axles each carrying seven roller-blade-type wheels. These multiple wheels (shown in more detail below) are designed to roll smoothly and carve effortlessly throughout the full transition of each turn.
The problem now is that I've never actually been on any sort of "board" in my life (Skateboard, Snowboard, Flowboard ... you name it and I've not been on it). So, as you can imagine, I'm looking forward to a somewhat interesting learning experience.
Settle down, settle down. I'm not quite as stupid as I look (well, I couldn't be, could I?). As fate would have it, I was introduced to a really great website called Snowboard Secrets (www.snowboardsecrets.com. Clicking on the Secrets link reveals a lot of very useful information, including the fact that two of the big potential problem areas for Snowboarders (and Flowboarders) is breaking one's wrists and/or – even worse – breaking one's "tail bone".
Now, although I'm an engineer by trade, I currently fill my days writing, so breaking one of my wrists would not be a good idea. And I don't even want to think about breaking my tail bone – there's no way to "strap it up", it takes a LONG time to heal, and (while it's healing) sitting down is a pain in the ... well, let's not go there. By some strange quirk of fate, just yesterday as I pen these words, I was visiting with an older friend (now in his 70s) who told me that he had once broken his tail bone. He gave me some very sage advice, which was: "Don't break your tail bone!"
Observe the wrist protectors I'm wearing in the pictures above. These are state-of-the art Flexmeter wrist guards that are proven to reduce Snowboard (and by extrapolation Skateboard and Flowboard) wrist injuries. What you can't see in these pictures is that – under my shorts – I'm also wearing an Azzpadz tailbone protector. I got these incredibly useful protective items from the Snowboard Secrets website. Obviously the pictures above are staged, because I should be wearing a helmet. As the Snowboard Secrets folks say on their "Secrets" page:
You might think (mistakenly) that helmets are only for people who ride in the trees or do big tricks. But the first time you catch an edge and go CLUNK! and the back of your head hits the hard hard ground, you'll reconsider. This can happen so suddenly and unexpectedly that you won't know what hit you. But it was the ground!
The point is that they also advise that one purchases a helmet in person, because correct fit is both mandatory and tricky. So that's going to be my next purchase before I really start using my little beauty.
In the meantime, I've been discovering that there are all sorts of other cool boards out there. For example, consider the T-Board which has only two wheels. Another really cool-looking play on this two-wheel theme is The Wave, which you can find on the Sports Authority website (check out This Video to see The Wave in action).
Hmmm, I think having only two wheels is a little rich for my blood. I'm not that brave. However, there is one board that looks very, VERY tasty to me. It's called the Carveboard and is available from the Carveboard Sports website (www.carveboardsports.com). Good grief Charlie Brown – this is even cooler than my Flowboard. I want one so bad I can taste it, but at $359 (or $389 with the silver wheels) this is way outside my budget ... maybe for my 60th Birthday?
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.