Monday, 2 January 2012

Heroes - Paul, Bill & Who?

I was suddenly reminded yesterday of a topic I wanted to discuss some time ago, my heroes. Who are they? Why? To sum them up, there are three men I admire and wish to emulate in the achievements of my own life. They are (in chronological order by discovery) Paul Lotus, William Lishman & Dr. Who.

Paul Lotus
15 or so years ago, I fell in love with the achievements and antics of one Paul Lotus. In short, he traveled the world, used his brain to solve common, every-day problems and cared about the state of humanity. In 1988 he circumnavigated the planet on a sailboat, by himself. If you don't believe me, he wrote a book about it.

"Confessions of a Long-Distance sailor"
Copyright © 1991 — 2005, P. Lutus

He lives out in the Oregon wilderness in a cabin he built himself by carrying the lumber up the hill on his back and until he decided to buy his first computer (the brand new Apple II) he lived completely without electricity. Before all that, he designed spacecraft components for  NASA Space Shuttle, researched at Mt. Sinai, and consulted at the University of Colorado.

I first learned of him from a friend who passed me a 3.5" floppy disk labeled "Arachnophilia 3". The program was like using notepad but with lots of customizable tool bars available for the web developer who just can't stand the standard Windows wysiwyg environments. I loved it and I still use 4.5 even though he replaced it with an OS independent Java version (I just don't like the feel of it).

Paul Lotus is my hero. He is adventurous, inventive and wise.

Soon afterwards I started researching underground homes... why? Because Lotus likes to say things like "Find out what everyone else is doing, and do something different". I liked the idea of a house with a unique look and is efficient to run. Most of all, I liked being different. During my research I discovered William Lishman.

William Lishman
Bill has this groovy website with very simple html stuff so I could easily view it regardless of my dial-up connection. Mind you I was still in college (about 21 years old) and it was 1998ish. High speed was available but not necessarily affordable to everyone.

I was entranced by his step-by-step description of how he conceived, designed and built his own underground home back in the 80's, decades before most of the technologies became available to builders. I loved it. I've sat for days, designing my own home similar to his concepts. I even got hooked on Mike Holmes shows just so I could learn more about materials and building codes. I'm still determined to retire to a home of my own design, blood, sweat and blisters.

6 or 7 years ago, I was receiving visitors from out east (my dearest friends Russel & Nicole) and thought they would get a kick out of seeing Bill's house. I knew I would for sure and my wife at the time was a skeptic that I just couldn't help but educate. So I started emailing Bill and asked for a tour of his home. Bill obliged and through some mishaps and bad timings, managed to show up at his house during a snow storm at 10pm with our starving infant children.

We were all fascinated by his home. He made it a point to show us his home-made refrigerator (which is a giant lazy-Susan on a pneumatic piston that rises and falls out of the counter-top by stepping on the corresponding pedals). He said "Everyone wants to see it first". I didn't even know he had it. It was awesome. We all had questions about the house, how it was built, where did he get some of his idea's, upgrades, etc. I found a photo of him and the actor Jeff Daniels sitting on the mantle. Russ and I thought that was cool. I didn't find out till a year or two later that the picture was taken when Jeff Daniels played Bill in the movie Fly Away Home. Talk about adventurous!

Bill Lishman is my hero. He is adventurous, creative and unafraid of popular opinion.

The Doctor (1-11)
Other than this year, the last time I stopped by to visit my friend Russel was in Fredericton some 3 years ago. During my visit, he introduced me to an episode of Dr. Who titled "Blink" and I was hooked.

I've become a huge fan, watching every episode and reviewing every decision he makes. I was riveted to the screen when he fought the Daleks with the Bad Wolf. I was devastated when he lost his love and companion Rose Tyler to the alternate dimension and I was floored when he faced the combined might of all his enemies and said "Come and get me, but remember who I am, and let some one else give it a try first!"

He is rebellious, brilliant, protective, imaginative, caring and vindictive. He has a dark side that all of his enemies have learned to fear. He is the Doctor and the Oncoming Storm. He is so lonely, being the last of his kind and yet he's almost never alone, always having someone who comes along for the ride. Above all, he loves Humans in our nearly infinite variation and capacity for everything. So flexible and stubborn and just so "stupid and beautiful". He's always ready to rescue us from his enemies and from ourselves.

The Doctor is my hero. He is passionate, abhors violence and tackles all obstacles with his intelligence and wit.

Heroes are meant to inspire us to improve ourselves by the example they make, the lives they lead and the achievements they leave behind. Being so inspired, we are meant to become examples, achievers and heroes for others. In pondering my heroes, their achievements and the reasons that I admire them, I was finally left with one question.

What achievements will I leave behind, how will I inspire others, who could possibly think of me as their hero?

---
Friar Greg
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