Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dress like Johnny Cash: Or, Shopping for jeans in Mexico City

$729 pesos. Afraid to do the currency conversion.

Color is important at RoboCup. As DARwIn makes his way across the bright-green soccer fields to score a goal or take the bright orange ball from an opponent, color is everything.

The field. The ball. And especially the goals posts, either yellow or blue, depending on which side your team is assigned, or chooses. The robots operate on color, programmed to think, “Kick the orange object between the large blue posts,” rather than “Kick the round, regulation-sized tennis ball between the set goals to score a point.”

In the case of one of our DARwIn robots during a Tuesday practice session at Mexico’s World Trade Center, he had a blue goal set as his target, and as a blogger/photographer stepped onto the field to take some close-up shots of DARwIn, the little ‘bot made its way for the Levi’s worn by the man. Blue jeans, naturally.

Closer and closer, DARwIn scurried until one of his operators, a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student, pulled the robot back. “You might want to wear black jeans instead,” he said with a heavy sigh, as the embarrassed shutterbug suddenly was full of the realization that his own legs were mistaken for quite wide and round goal posts. (Is a work out in order?)

Luckily, the World Trade Center contains a large shopping mall, with a four-story Sears inside it. So off the photographer went to buy black jeans, Levi’s, in Mexico, a souvenir one does not expect to purchase while visiting one of the largest, oldest cities in the entire Americas. (The man’s three pairs of blue jeans will get a rest for the remainder of the week, it seems.

But, come game time – which kicks off tomorrow – it’s better to be Dressed in Black, like the late, great Mr. Johnny Cash, then wearing blue and feeling red because the color of your pants skunked a robot’s chance to win a goal with leggy distraction. Thank goodness jeans don’t come in yellow.

One other note on clothing attire: No sneakers or shoes are allowed on the soccer fields. So, it’s stocking feet all the way, unless you want to get bounced from the field. So, if one has holes in his or her socks, the world will know fast. Luckily, that Sears sales sells socks, too. Second floor, if you must know.


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