Monday, June 8, 2009

Pitch, Yaw and Roll

Here we go again. Casey has achieved another milestone. And surprise, this one has nothing to do with bodily emissions. In consideration of this blog’s diverse audience, I will start with a quick physics/engineering tutorial for you non-engineers out there.
There are 3 axis’, typically referred to as X,Y,Z. Stand up, look straight down at the ground. Draw a line from your feet straight in front of you, that is the y-axis. Now, draw another line, from your feet to your left or right, that is the x-axis. The z-axis is pretty much a line from your feet straight up thru your head.
You can rotate about (flip over) any of these lines. Depending on which axis you flip over, there is a different term to describe the motion. Rotate about the x-axis and its called pitch. Just think summersault, or front flip… Rotate about the z-axis and its called yaw. Picture a break dancer spinning on his back. Lastly, rotate about the y-axis and its called roll. If you take a log, and place it on top of a hill and it rolls down the hill, that’s roll…
Now back to Casey. One day last week, we put him on his play mat. As always, we just laid him down on his back. A short time later, in response to some light crying we go see him: he’s on all fours, facing downward! So, I proceed with a detailed scene inspection. There is a large puddle of drool directly under his mouth, clearing indication he’s been in that position for some time, and that he hasn’t moved much. He had a look in his eyes that said, “oh S*&9, what did I do now? Everything is upside down” Imagine if we suddenly found ourselves hung from our feet; everything we are used to seeing would be backasswards. So, we rescue him, turn him over and ask him to repeat the feat. Alas, that was it for one day.
A day or two later, I was watching him play on his mat. He started getting squirrely, so I grabbed the video camera and aimed it at him. After a couple of unsuccessful/ aborted attempts, (not enough momentum, unintended deceleration due to contact with canopy support, and various other reasons such as stopping to fart) he finally rolls onto all fours. This time his head is held up high, checking out the new world orientation. I asked him for a high-five, but he politely declined my request, explaining that his hand was occupied supporting him, and couldn’t be used to high-five daddy. If you watch his facial expressions, they say, "what the ... everythings upside down.. whoa, I did it.... WOW, I really did do it! COOL!"
So we have 2 axis left. My estimate is that the next one Casey will conquer will be pitch. Most likely this will occur around the time we enroll him in a toddler gymnastics class, where they will hopefully teach him to do summersaults and eventually front tucks. If he ever wants daddy to teach him how to TRY a standing back tuck, and land on his face I’ll be glad to explain, but not demonstrate. As for yaw, about the only way Casey is going to do this is if Uncle Jack (Switch) decides to come out of retirement and teach him break dancing.


  1. Yay Casey! The look on his face at the end is funny....what the heck did I just do?

  2. That is most impressive! Just the start of exciting things to come:)