Maybe you grew up, as I did, with brothers brooding behind closed doors, building and manipulating their own mechanical inventions or trying to figure out how to upgrade the motors in their remote-control racecars. Or maybe you were the one doing the tinkering. Either way, you're sure to get a kick (or a mechanical leg swing) out of the ComBots Cup and Robot Fighting League's 2005 National Championship.
Featuring many of the robot industry's top prizefighters, the ComBots Cup is a hard-core battle between intricate collections of steel and titanium, screws and bolts, spinning wheels and swinging blades. Set up ring-style, the matches are short and fierce, eliciting cheers from the fans and sparks from the machinery as killer toys unleash hell on one another. This year, the big guns are up for a grand prize of an unprecedented $10,000. Be sure to catch Buster, a sleek, flat-backed robot with brutal spinning dual axe-heads that can slice through the competition. Another savvy heavyweight is Shovelhead, a six-wheeled minitank with a sharp-edged front shovel to scoop up opponents and send them flying. The fun starts at noon Saturday and Sunday at Fort Mason, Festival Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$20; visit www.combots.net.
-- Karen Macklin
Learn to rough it
I don't necessarily need to learn the correct route up Kilimanjaro, but the Adventures in Travel Expo will set me straight regardless. Featuring a host of luminaries, from famed climber David Roberts to a bevy of National Geographic Adventure writers, the seminars promise to be the event's main draw, with titles like "The Alaska You Might Have Missed" and, simply, "Iceland." Exhibitors also bring out the high-ticket thrills, such as a scuba-diving tank, a rock-climbing wall, a kayaking pool, and a zip-line on which you can soar above the show floor, screaming like a howler monkey.